This cluster of questions focuses on ways that past experiences shape learning.

There are so many ways in which history shapes learning that it’s hard for me to know where to begin. Particularly in a course as short as this, I’ll have to rely in large measure on the knowledge you bring into the “room.” But think even in basic terms about what history is: the series of past events that lead up to the one you’re currently in the middle of.

Your own experience of this class, for instance, was likely shaped by your previous experiences with religious education. Maybe you were a kid who LOVED Sunday school. If so, you probably come to this class eager for ideas about how to help other kids have similarly engaging experiences. Or perhaps you’re someone who learns best through memorization. The past memory work you’ve done will shape what you can take from this class.

If we had the time, I would have invited you to read Mary Boys’ book Educating in Faith: Maps and Visions, or the Van Engen edited collection of social history around religious education. These are wonderful texts which tell some of the stories of religious education over the years. Such history shapes current learning for good Δ and ill.

The questions your group needs to ask as you engage this week’s focus situation stem from digging into the history of the situation. What can you glean about prior events, practices, meanings that have shaped what is occurring in the situation?

  1. First you need to ask: what stories are being brought into the situation? Do these stories conflict in any way? What history seems to be connected or informative in this context?
  2. Parker Palmer and Maria Harris make some strong assertions about the ways in which relationships shape knowing. Are there any ways in which relationships over time — specifically, stretching back into history — might be impacting this week’s focus situation?
  3. What does your small group think is the most important thing you’ve learned so far, in relation to this week’s situation?
  4. Finally, compose a summary of your deliberation and post it to the course blog for this week’s focus.
  5. For extra credit, if you like, search out a few additional resources that offer useful materials that relate in some way to the ritual learning challenge(s) you identified.

Possible resource sites include your denominational sites, the Christian educators of the 20th century history database, and the Congregational resources database