Monday, June 11, 2007

The Interpretation Approach in Christian Education (6)

In the interpretation approach, the teacher helps the learner to seek meaning of God in his or her daily experiences. He or she is encouraged to discover his or her story and then connect it to the greater Christian story of God’s redemptive work in the world today. The teacher acts as a guide.

Galindo notes,
Both developmental psychology and formation theory demand that a Christian education be life-centered and need-oriented. Christian education must be presented as a personal search for meaning and as part of the learner’s total religious experience. Christian education must help clarify for the believers their religious and spiritual needs and dimensions.

The strength of this approach is that Christians find meaning in their experiences. The shared praxis is Thomas Groome’s contribution to Christian education pedagogy. Groome is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College.

He notes,
Christian religious education is a political activity with pilgrims in time that deliberately and intentionally attends with them to the activity of God in our present, to the Story of the Christian faith community, and to the Vision of God’s Kingdom, the seeds of which are already among us.

The key to the understanding of shared praxis is the understanding of time. Instead of linear time or kronos, Groome suggested that kairos time, especially the present time being most important. In the present time, which he described as “present of things present, the present of things past, and the present of things future” is where true learning takes place.

He suggested that the Shared Praxis approach is the most reasonable way to do Christian religious education. There are five components or movements in shared praxis. They are (1) present action, (2) critical reflection, (3) dialogue, (4) the Christian Story, and (5) the Vision that arises from that Story.

It is in the present time that action takes place. Action is a reflection of our self. Hence critical reflection of such action needs to be done in terms of past Christian tradition, present situation and the future of what is hoped for in the Kingdom. This is to be done within the context of the Christian Story. The hope is the Vision of the educational outcome.

Groome summarises, “Christian religious education by shared praxis can be described as a group of Christians sharing in dialogue their critical reflection on present action in light of the Christian Story and its Vision toward the end of lived Christian faith.”

The weakness is that experience becomes the objective of Christian education, and of the spiritual life. Furthermore not many Christians are able to, or have the inclination to do critical and theological reflection.


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