education


Preparing to Do Our Best for the Children We Teach

by Kristina Wenger, M.A.
Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry to Teachers

As a new school year approaches, it is good for us teachers to think about how to improve our teaching methods so that we can be more effective. One way in which we can become better teachers is to sharpen our preparation for each class that we teach. Thinking through our lessons ahead of time, planning them, writing them out (or at least jotting down notes), and trying out activities or crafts before we do them with students are all ways in which we can improve our preparation and thereby become better teachers.

Let’s Know and Support Those Who Teach

by Kristina Wenger, M.A.
Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry to Parents

It is the beginning of a new school year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a good time to set goals and also begin good habits for the year. As our children participate in school, homeschool groups, library or park classes, clubs, Sunday Church School, and other such groups, let us as parents be mindful of those who are leading and teaching the children in these groups. This school year, let us set a goal to do a better job of knowing and supporting these teachers, and let us also begin the habits that will help us to meet that goal.

Works of the Order in Action: Theophany School

Sixteen years ago, at the tender age of twenty-one, Sonia Daly had a vision to open an Orthodox School near her hometown in Massachusetts. With her hard work and by God’s grace, Theophany School opened its doors in 1997. Since then, we have been working hard to foster the intellectual, moral and social development of our students by engaging their minds, nurturing their spirits, and enriching their God-given gifts and talents through the teachings and life of the Holy Orthodox Christian Church. Our small class sizes and child-driven curriculum let us educate the whole child, thereby cultivating each child’s strengths, and encouraging him or her to be an independent thinker and a thoughtful member of our School, and of his or her family and communities, ultimately guiding us all along the path to Christ.

Two Articles on Christianity and School

Below you will find two articles taken from the archives of Orthodox Family Life. May God bless you and your families as you begin a new school year.


 

Making the Most of Your Children's Public School Education

by Ann Marie Gidus-Mecera

While the trend of many Christians today, including a growing number of Orthodox Christians, is to home school their children, many have chosen (or do so out of necessity) to educate their children through the public school systems.

Any concerned Orthodox parent is aware of the negatives attached to a public school education, and very often struggle with this on an on-going basis. While the purpose of this article is not to defend the benefits of a public school education, it will attempt to help Orthodox parents turn those negative factors into positive learning experiences.

Two Articles on Orthodox Education: Public School and Home School

The following articles are archived selections from Orthodox Family Life. The first deals with secular education in the public school setting. The second article pertains to Orthodox Home School, which is becoming increasingly popular and more common. Whether your children are part of the public school system or receiving their instruction at home, there are specific challenges unique to each setting. 


 

Making the Most of Your Children's Public School Education

by Ann Marie Gidus-Mecera

While the trend of many Christians today, including a growing number of Orthodox Christians, is to home school their children, many have chosen (or do so out of necessity) to educate their children through the public school systems.

Any concerned Orthodox parent is aware of the negatives attached to a public school education, and very often struggle with this on an on-going basis. While the purpose of this article is not to defend the benefits of a public school education, it will attempt to help Orthodox parents turn those negative factors into positive learning experiences.

Book Review: Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Part 3

Part 3: Where Does It Take Place?

Click here to read Part 1
Click here to read Part 2

In her book Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Karen Tye discusses the beginnings of the Sunday School, and the reasons it became relegated to formal Sunday morning classes exclusively.  In this section, she encourages us to expand our vision of Christian Education beyond the traditional Sunday morning box, to examine the one-room schoolhouse model , and the homeschooling concept of education.

The one-room school model is firmly fixed in American history, as it was the way early small communities collaborated to educate their children.   This form of education is certainly custom made for the small church school, which must of necessity have groups with a range of ages, as did the one-room schoolhouse.  In this sort of setting, older children learn while helping younger ones, and younger children have the older students as ready-made role models.  Each student learns at his own pace, and receives individual attention from the teacher, and there is very little presented in the group lesson format. 

Book Review: Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Part 2

Part 2: It's all About People!

Click here to read Part 1

In her book Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Karen Tye reminds us that Christian education, like so many other things in life, is not primarily about programs or curriculum, it is about people.  When you are talking about a smaller church and its educational program, this is even more the case.  In a smaller church, you do not have the large numbers to draw from for participation, everyone knows everyone else, and in general, healthy interaction with the people involved becomes even more crucial.  The history of the parish comes into play, and so do the personalities of the parishioners.  Positively, in smaller programs, the talents and good will of the people are often the greatest assets of the church school.

Tye feels, along with most educators and psychologists, that there are three aspects of the human being that must be taken into account when teaching them- especially children:

Book Review: Christian Education in the Small Membership Church

Part 1:  Who Are We?

In her book Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Karen Tye reviews the tendency of churches in America to want to “Super Size” their churches, much as we do our burger meals. She emphasizes however, that small churches are not just smaller, but also, different from their larger counterparts, and that we must realize this as we plan any programs in our churches, perhaps especially Christian Education programs. Smaller is not only different, but in some respects, better for the purposes of educating our children. While there are certainly differences between our Orthodox Churches and the Protestant ones she focuses on, most of the generalities she discusses run true for us also.

The first step in planning Christian Education programs in the smaller church, Tye says, is to evaluate what you have in your particular church.  There are certain characteristics of all small churches:

  1. There’s a strong sense of community
  2. It’s like a family
  3. It has deep traditions
  4. There is a high percentage of participation
  5. The organizational structure tends to be simple in nature
  6. Worship is the prime activity

While some of these characteristics may show up very strongly in one church, another may find different characteristics more true for them.  Deciding what your church “is,” involves evaluating the degree to which each is applicable in your case.

An Orthodox University: Higher Education for Orthodox Christians

by His Grace Bishop Thomas, Ed.D.

In "the founding of explicitly Orthodox Christian schools of higher education...we must seek out men and women who are willing to offer up their academic learning and other educational talents to God for His Eucharistic sanctification for the salvation of the world."

An Orthodox University: Higher Education for Orthodox Christians

by the Right Reverend Bishop Thomas (Joseph), Ed.D.

If we were to survey the Orthodox Christian private grammar schools that currently exist in our country, we would discover that they exist for one of two reasons. The first, and probably the more common, is that parents want a place for their children that is safe from the evil influences found in the secular schools that will also give to them an adequate academic education. Such schools do not particularly exist as Orthodox schools for the sake of Orthodoxy, but rather as safe havens, sheltering students reassuringly under the preferred religious branding.

By contrast, the other kind of Orthodox Christian school that exists in our country is dedicated to immersion in the Kingdom of God. Their purpose is not to provide a shelter from the world that happens to give a decent education, but rather it is to use education sacramentally to unite students mystically with Jesus Christ. Indeed, far from providing a shelter, we may think of such places as a barracks or as a training camp, raising up soldiers for Christ’s mystical army. Such schools have one purpose: the salvation of students and of the world. For them, education can become a mystery of the Church.

August 18, 2010 + First Things First (Part 1)

by Fr. Richard L. Tinker
from The Word, November 1966

A short time ago I was discussing religious education with a Roman Catholic priest. I have always felt that it is a good idea to shop around for ideas, moving on the assumption that someone else may have solved or at least learned to live with a problem that is currently troubling you.

The priest described himself to me as one who was “up to his neck” in religious education. His parish is a large one: over six thousand parishioners attend Sunday Masses, the earliest of which begins at 5: 30 am. His parochial school, a huge complex of three buildings, educate nearly five thousand students, many of whom are not even members of his parish. The priest also directly supervises the Released Time Religious Education Program. Under provisions of the program, hundreds of students are released from the Public Schools in the neighborhood an hour early on a specified day each week in order to attend special religious instruction classes in his school. When they arrive, they are taught by dedicated nuns especially trained for that work. The classes are conducted in modern classrooms, furnished with beautifully illustrated textbooks, and crammed with the latest audio-visual aids. I remarked that he was working under near perfect circumstances, and that his program must be succeeding rather well.

He nodded, sat back, and with a wry smile, said: “I wish it were, Father. The plain fact is that we are not. Oh, the kids come, all right. They learn a lot about the Church, but I’m pretty sure that we are going to lose most of them.”

Building Faith by Reading

Little children start learning to read by being read to aloud. Most often they learn to read from their parents and brothers and sisters. I believe that I developed a love for reading listening to my mother read small booklets she had brought with her from Greece to Denver, where we were living. Every afternoon or so, I recall laying around on my back, relaxing, and listening intensely to my mom read out loud from a worn-out book that did not even have any colorful pictures. But all of the stories talked about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. My mother’s deep faith in Christ was revealed to me by listening to her read about the miracles and the parables during our Lord’s short time on earth. Once in a while she also read a story about a princess or two. Again, there were no photos, just the illustration on the book cover.

I finally became a mother myself and wanted to read to my daughter Elena. I don’t think it had anything to do with my beloved mother, but rather with the strange obsession to be part of the middle class in Boston where I had started my own family. I simply wanted to introduce my child to every aspect of the world. I had been greatly influenced by the Montessori system, which holds that the brain of the child is like a sponge that quickly and easily soaks up all kinds of information.

Lessons from a Bible Puppet Theater

I stood alone in front of the audience while they stared at me in silence. Memories of playing the lead in my second-grade Christmas play rushed back, with all the dread of performing before an audience for the first time.

What was I doing here, a middle-aged man, dressed as a Babylonian king? How did I get here and how did this happen so quickly? The memories and questions flashed by, but then I heard my own voice bellow out to the audience, “I am King Nebuchadnezzar, Ruler of all Babylon. I am here to tell you the most amazing story about three young men and how the True God who rules over all saved them from a fiery death!” With those opening lines Saint George Cathedral Church School in Pittsburgh started a new, educational adventure.

Almost every teacher regularly confronts the challenge to engage his or her students in learning. At times that challenge seems to be overwhelming. However, supportive teamwork, some creativity, and openness to new approaches make it easier to develop eager students who look forward to Church School on Sunday morning.

It was a warm Sunday evening in early September 2006 when the Church School staff met at the Cloherty’s home for the first meeting of the new school year. Our host and Church School Director, Joanne Cloherty, and Father John Abdalah suggested as one of the topics for discussion that we try dramatics to supplement the students’ knowledge of the Bible and of the Saints, Patriarchs, Prophets and others found within it. We decided that I would write and perform one-man plays as a way of making these holy people from the Bible come alive for the children.