Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Teaching Catechism in the Third Millennium

Pupils and Their Parents Prefer Bible Study Introduction
this report cites what top performers in catechism and their parents say about the bible, mass, rosary, the sacraments and the commandments.

In my study, I tried to get the pupils and their parents’ ideas on what learning activities they prefer [inside and outside the classroom]. The campus ministry questionnaire (CMQ) was a supplement to the published catechism syllabus, De La Salle Modyul ng Katesismo for Grade I to Grade VI.  The CMQ was also meant to identify activities that would make catechism classes more pupil-centered and bible-centered.

In 2005, the CMQ had eight open-ended questions which were developed in coordination with BAMCREF Director Luisa Lacson in 2005.  These questions were then reviewed for completeness and were translated into Filipino by the catechists themselves.  Our respondents were the 17 Grade VI pupils Dona Carmen Rivero Donato Awardees who were considered model students by the catechists.  The awardees were chosen based on their financial profile, personal character and discipline, catechism achievement test, six-year catechism program under BAMCREF and active participation in religious activities. We included their parents as respondents because we felt that were the ones responsible for their academic success,  morally upright. conduct, and  Catholic upbringing.

1. Pupils and parents who responded to the survey preferred activities related to bible study and bible prayer meeting.  They prefer this activity over attending mass and praying the rosary.  The CMQ survey showed that both pupils and parents are interested in the Word of God.  Pupils and parents ranked bible study ranked first, mass is second and rosary is third.
2. Pupils ranked personal prayer of thanksgiving, petition, forgiveness and praise higher than formula prayers like Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.  Their parents preferred formula prayers over personal prayers.  However, both pupils and parents prefer prayer of petition over prayer of thanksgiving, forgiveness and praise.

3. For activities related to catechism, ‘serving others’ was ranked first by the pupil respondents. Serving others included volunteering to teach catechism, helping in recollections/retreats and serving in camping activities.  Combining catechism with the ‘performing arts,’ was ranked first by their parents.  The arts include drama, dance, and painting and drawing.  While the pupil respondents ranked ‘film viewing and story telling’ as third preference, their parents ranked this category second.  Pupil respondents ranked ‘competition,’ [like sports and quiz] fourth; their parents rank this category second (tied with film viewing and story telling.)

The 2005 CMQ survey showed the importance of bible study.  This confirms the same finding of the De La Salle Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO) survey conducted in 1992.  In that study, the parents requested that their children be provided a copy of the Bible so that they become knowledgeable of the Word of God.  The CMQ survey shows a wider cohort interested in studying the bible – both pupils and parents were unanimous in ranking bible study as number one priority.  At the joint CEAP-ECCCE national congress in 2000, Arch. Leonardo Legaspi, OP, DD pointed that modern catechesis need to “stress on the communitarian dimension of faith-education through family and BECs.”

The CMQ parent respondents were between ages 30–50.  They were most likely exposed to the Catholic renewal movement which established in the Philippines in 1969. It has been observed that the renewal movement has a special preference for personal and communal prayers and a strong interest in the Bible.  For example, in 1996, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Malate, where De La Salle University and Aurora Quezon Elementary School under BAMCREF catechists belongs to, established the Kapatiran Kay Kristo, basic ecclesial community engaged in weekly bible study and prayer meeting.

Personal prayers in contrast with formula prayers appear to have a reflective-cognitive content accompanied with a profound sense of connectedness with the Almighty.  Instead of a routinary recitation of Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be in a five decade rosary, a short spontaneous prayer brings the human spirit to a sacred moment. According to Arch. Legaspi, there is a shift from overly doctrinal to experiential catechesis.  He said there is a world-wide phenomenon of a new search for the divine, for God.  The need for a personal experience and relationship with God is confirmed by the pupils and their parents in this survey who find it important to learn to formulate their own personal prayers.

The Grade VI CMQ respondents were looking for opportunities to share their time and talent. They mentioned involvement in programs that reach out to others, like teaching catechism and doing volunteer work.  Other desired activities include peer group discussion, recollection, and camping. I believe before the graders finish elementary schooling, our catechists in coordination with the other teachers, should prepare them for Christian leadership.  A doable goal is to have a well trained prayer leader capable of lifting everyone’s aspiration to God in assemblies and public gatherings.

Performing arts
The arts, specially performing arts, may be used as channels for religious experience. Ms. Lachica, St. Scholastica’s Grade School principal, revealed in a interview that their religion classes have  interdisciplinary modules for special events.  This means all academic subjects including art, music, physical education and Filipino are involved in promoting gospel values under a common theme.  She revealed that their ‘infusion approach’ to value formation makes sure that all curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are anchored to and integrated with religion as the core subject.

The Dennis Mills, a Protestant pastor, integrates the Bible learning by making language arts the venue for learning to read, write, speak and listen. He believes that “the teaching of all subjects as part of the total truth of God, thereby enabling the student to see the unity of natural and special revelation.”  He advocates a bibliocentric curriculum that extends to all areas of the life of the pupils.

It is of prime importance that the graduating elementary pupils are prepared as Christian leaders.  Class organizations identify who the leaders are.  Catechists need not re-invent the wheel of leadership.  All they need to do is supplement, complement and coordinate with other teachers and fill-in the leadership gap.  The graduating leaders need to be introduced to the dynamics of human leadership and servant leadership this early.

As growing adolescents, they need to relate with their peers.  The critical incident survey question related to peer group, the response of Grade IV pupils differ significantly from those of Grade VI pupils.  The very young adolescents represented by Grade IV pupils prefer to consult their parents if they are faced with a choice to join a fraternity.  Grade VI pupils would rather consult their barkada, rather than inform their parents that they are being recruited to join a fraternity.  Grade IV pupils continue to uphold the authority of their.  By the time they are in Grade VI, as young adults they begin to assert to assert their independence and lean on their peers for support.

In Philippine public schools, the possibility of a bibliocentric curriculum is a challenge.  The catechists should be able to run a biblical track on key topical areas of the Basic Education Curriculum 2000 of the Department of Education.  This means that all curricular and extra-curricular subjects (recollection, camping, volunteer outreach work, fine arts, singing, drama, dancing, story-telling, film viewing, etc) are fertile grounds for cultivating the Word of God.

What kind of learner do we have in the Third Millennium?  The profile of the grader today is someone who is exposed to Music Television (MTV) showing images in quick succession; virtual games (military combat, car racing and space exploration); cyber chat with video camera at internet cafes; cable (global) television at home; and mobile cellular phone access. Every catechist is challenged to address issues related to the use of technology in the Third Millennium.  The CMQ survey has articulated pupil and parental preferences.  The time is now to address their needs to become truly human and in the process become true followers of Jesus Christ.  Let’s get them and their parents anchored to the Word.

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