With Matthew telling us that Jesus taught the crowds at great length, it should strike us that in pursuit of leading a well-rounded religious life there is much that we must learn. Let me tell you how as a Religion teacher for teen agers I came to see how much was required.
With an English degree, and with several years of teaching English, I came to a local high school expecting to be teaching Grammar and Literature. Instead, I was handed a text for pointing out God’s hand in history. It wasn’t a text I could work with, so I bought thirty-five Bibles, and I joined the kids in stumbling through the Bible’s length and breadth.
A few years further on, I was given a parish with a sizable grade school where the parents and kids disliked the recently published Religion texts, so I decided on trying to work out matters for equipping kids for their lives in God’s world. Teaching the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grades every day, I worked out six semesters of matter for which I ran off copies for the kids. Let me just list the six semesters. First, World Religions. Second, The old Testament up to the Babylonian Captivity. Third, the rest of the old Testament. Fourth, the Gospel according to Matthew. Fifth, the History of Christianity. Sixth, the Gospel according to John.
When I had completed those six text books I asked a Scripture Scholar friend of mine to evaluate them. He told me, “You cover the matter very well, but in teaching Religion you cannot just bank the material in the minds of students. You must get them actively involved in searching for God’s truth.”
On my friend’s advice I followed each lesson with a space for the student to briefly write how the matter went down with him or her. It wasn’t a great success, but even Jesus had mixed results.