For our final Humanities class, we examined human rights and what different documents did and did not include within them as human rights. We then set out and did service for a day as a group with a church’s women’s group making and serving lunch to hungry men and women and volunteering at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter. Then we were told we had to set out on our own and find a cause that we are a passionate about and volunteer three hours of our time to volunteer there.
I have taught Sunday School at my church for the past 4 years. I started off with a class of 1st graders, then 3rd, 5th, and finally 7th graders. My last class was two weekends ago and to think that that chapter of my life, at least at that church, was closing was something I didn’t know how to deal with. When my teacher asked me to do some service and think about rights, I decided to use this as an opportunity to take the director of Religious Education at my parish and help her rework some of the curriculum and the teaching methods they suggest.
A catechist is typically an older woman with a child in the class, so being a teenager having to control, educate and relate to a group of fifteen to twenty kids can be pretty difficult. I spent the last four years taking it upon myself to teach individuality and the importance of consciousness of choice in what we believe and how we do it. I offer a fresh perspective as someone who recently went through Sunday School and knows what’s engaging and what is not. As a freshman, I didn’t come in as the most qualified candidate to have my own class, but I was given a chance and now have a lot to offer.
We spent hours pouring over binders of crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blank worksheets, art projects, game ideas and so much more thinking about what was most effective. Outside of religious beliefs, Sunday School was always a place I could just have some fun. We did our best to remember that and to try to bring that in to the curriculum and lesson plans. Teachers and students should be able to connect and talk about things that have happened to them and function as a small community that’s also learning about God and whatever else is in store for the day. The object I have chosen to represent my four years and the final service I did especially for this class is one of the stacks of cards from a game of Jeopardy I made for one review class. I made tons of decks over my four years because I always found them connecting best to the content and paying the most attention when there was competition and rewards (doughnuts) involved.
The work was really rewarding and provided me with a strong sense of closure, even though I know I will still miss waking up early to see the energetic, uncontrollable smiles of my students.