As a high school moral theology teacher, and especially after a tumultuous political season, I’m deeply invested in whether my students gain a solid understanding of a consistent Catholic ethic of life—which recognizes the human person’s inalienable dignity from womb to tomb. Whatever their future vocation, I hope they retain a deep-in-their-bones conviction that all human life, and indeed all of God’s creation, has profound value that must be nurtured and protected.
If education is to be transformative, it must engage the mind, capture the imagination, and spark a desire for real engagement with the world. Julián Carrón writes, “Education is not explaining reality or forming some argument about it; it is helping another person . . . enter into reality” (“A Communication of Yourself,” in Disarming Beauty: Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom, 168). This kind of education is not a passive memorization of facts, but rather an “encounter.” Such encounters captivate the attention, propose “a hypothesis of meaning,” and inspire students to search for what is good, true, and beautiful.
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Last year, the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity launched a new offering, Teaching Human Dignity. The Teaching Human Dignity series is a one-of-a-kind collection of units/lesson plans, curriculum resources, and expert guides that empowers teachers to incorporate life and human dignity issues into existing curriculum. These resources are meant to be used in traditional academic disciplines, such that students are formed to recognize the worth of the human person while discussing poetry, analyzing historical events, or learning about biology.
“I desperately need guidance as a catechist. I'm being told by my DRE . . . to 'send home lessons.'
I'm not a professional educator. I don't have back up or tools or tech support. Just a mandate to do it.”
—Recent comment from a blog reader
Planning lessons as a catechist can be challenging. Planning lessons to send home for parents to complete with their children can be even more difficult! Whether you find yourself as a catechist in a religious education program that is dividing its time between classroom instruction on the church campus and family instruction at home or you’re experiencing a global pandemic and suddenly need to prepare lessons to send home for several weeks, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.