Effective catechesis

How often do we focus on ‘what we need to teach’ above ‘what is actually being learnt’?

This distinction really struck a chord with me when I stumbled across this excellent resource which for me, as someone who is not a qualified teacher, has given me fresh insight.

Learning Objectives
If we want our candidates to be active learners, the learning objectives need to contain ‘active’ verbs rather than ‘passive’ ones. This supports what I wrote about in my last post – how the GDC promotes the activity of the catechised. So, for example, our Confirmation class last night had the following learning objectives:

Candidates will be able to:
1. Recall the definition of sin.
2. Distinguish between Original Sin and personal sin.
3. Recount the event of the Fall.
4. Explain why we suffer from concupiscence.
5. Analyse the different ways in which Mary and Eve used their freedom.
6. Examine the areas of sin in their own lives.

Dees makes the excellent point that as catechists and teachers we are very keen on thinking up ways to teach our key points, but less good at assessing that these objectives have actually been met. He gives some excellent and innovative ways of assessing that the candidates can do these things – rather than the typical worksheet where they answer questions or fill in the blanks.

Teaching Strategies
The final step is to choose teaching strategies that will achieve these learning objectives. Dees provides a vast matrix of many different strategies which correspond to different styles of learning.

The Pedagogy of God
My final remark would be that, within this extremely helpful process for planning effective catechesis, as catechists we mustn’t lose sight that we catechise according to the pedagogy of God. We proclaim the Gospel because this is what God does. Similarly, we must never lose sight of the fact that the Holy Spirit is the interior Teacher – we are his instruments as catechists. Sometimes we might get so hung up on making a session so exciting and active, that we forget that catechesis is a work of God – not our work. If we fill a prayer time, for example, with different prayer ‘activities’ but never allow for silence, we may well be leading candidates away from God, not to Him.

This is expressed well in this video clip below. Lord, make us faithful instruments so that you may form – through our work – young people like these:

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

2 responses to “Effective catechesis

  • Max Figueiredo

    Thank you for your great work…..not trained as one but so much more aware of what makes a great teacher…..

  • William

    Through Jared’s discussion on learning objectives I added to every lesson plan 1st – 6th grade the objective of the lesson and learning outcomes. I loved your reminder that the Holy Spirit is the interior teacher. We do need to trust that as long as we are faithful the Holy Spirit will speak to the hearts of those we catechize. That is not always easy to actually live out, but it is nevertheless true.

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