Teaching Christian Religious Education – A Review

In ten chapters or one hundred and eleven pages, the author presents a compendia of methodology of teaching Christian religious education. The purpose of the study, countless misconceptions of students, the etymology of the word ‘methodology’, definition and reason for religious education, kinds of research methods and hints of note taking are discussed in the first chapter. These give students the opportunity of revising when writer rather than presenting new information to them. The importance of the second chapter is that it gives a systematic approach to finding research/project problems, approach to find a research topic, formulating the research topic, sources of information, reviewing relevant literature, sources of information, reviewing relevant literature, hypothesis and format for research writing. Like the first chapter, the dimensions are not new but serve as a useful guide. The Nigerian approach to moral and religious instruction as stated in the 1981 Revised National Policy on education moved from rote memory of biblical passages to affect the psychomotor and affective domains. Approaches to the study of Christian religious education discussed in Chapter 3 include the Bible-centered or salvation history approach, the phenomenological approach, teacher-centered approach, and the Bible to life, life experiences and life-centered approaches. New life was therefore injected in teaching religious education as students discovered the religious implication of their actions.

Working on the premise that there are several teaching methods in each discipline, the writer identifies some methods and factors that determine their suitability and the right time to use them in the fourth chapter. He rightly observes that the Christian religious studies teacher should not be dogmatic but should apply a method as the situation demands. These methods are divided into teacher centered (lecture, questioning), learner centered (project, assignment) and joint (drama, field trips, story telling, role play) methods.

In Chapter 5, the writer successfully defines technical terms like teaching and teaching practice. Parameters used to identify the competency of the teacher are discussed. The section of preparing to teach is in consonance with Hendrick’s law of readiness. The discussion on the management, organization and administration of teaching practice and micro-teaching and its advantages are geared towards enabling the teacher to teach effectively especially if the assessment instruments at the end of the chapter are implemented.

The sixth chapter clearly traces the history of the religious studies curriculum which protects the child from receiving any instruction that is contrary to the wishes of his parents. The origin and objective of the word ‘curriculum’ and the vital role of parents, learners, teachers, local community, religious bodies, ministries of education and other national bodies are discussed. The seventh chapter expands on the discussion in earlier chapters. The sample of a syllabus is a useful reference material to every Christian religious education teacher.

The eighth chapter on lesson plan logically follows the seventh since the classroom experience tests what has been planned. The writer realistically observes that the success of the teacher is dependent on the mastery of the subject and his/her job is incomplete until evaluation is done. The importance of educational objectives, the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains cannot be overemphasized.fvfv

Commenting on the application of teaching materials, the writer observes that a good material among others should relate to the objective and age of the learners, match their ability and elicit interest in them. The penultimate chapter presents a vivid description of the use of instructional materials in teaching. The impact of visual and audiovisual materials is amazing. Although they create an opportunity for students to come face to face with reality, they should be seen as a means to an end.

The last chapter clearly presents justification for moral education in the school in an era of moral decadence. The aim of religious education therefore is to facilitate desirable changes in an individual since it encompasses theoretical, practical, moral, spiritual, human and divine aspects. The entire society – the home, school, church, voluntary organizations, mass media- has a role to play.

Although the book presents a rather interesting evaluation of Christian religious education methods, the author himself admits that he is not trying to offer new dimensions in the first two chapters. Even though he presents a format for research writing, the technical terms are not defined leaving the reader in a difficult position to see the relationship among them. Several typographical errors undermine the richness of the presentation. The above notwithstanding, this illustrative text of the Nigerian educational experience has graphic illustrations and review questions which stimulate critical thinking. A commendable insight is the lucid distinction made between the curriculum and syllabus which are treated as synonymous terms. The clear presentation of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives is also imperative. Perhaps another insight is how the wrong use of textbooks could hinder self-initiative and transforms learning merely into a routine.

AUTHOR SIGNATURE Oliver L.T. Harding, who obtained his GCE O & A Levels from the Sierra Leone Grammar School and the Albert Academy respectively, is currently Senior & Acting Librarian of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He is a part time lecturer at the Institute of Library, Information & Communication Studies (INSLICS), Fourah Bay College and the Extension Program at the Evangelical College of Theology (T.E.C.T) at Hall Street, Brookfields; Vice President of the Sierra Leone Association of Archivists, Librarians & Information Scientists (SLAALIS); a member of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and an associate of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP). His certificates, secular and sacred, include: a certificate and diploma from the Freetown Bible Training Center; an upper second class B.A. Hons. Degree in Modern History (F.B.C.); a post-graduate diploma from the Institute of Library Studies (INSLIBS, F.B.C) a masters degree from the Institute of Library, Information & Communication Studies (INSLICS, F.B.C.) and a masters degree in Biblical Studies from West Africa Theological Seminary, affiliate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he won the prize for academic excellence as the Best Graduating Student in 2005. Oliver, a writer, musician and theologian, is married (to Francess) with two children (Olivia & Francis).
Email: oltharding@yahoo.com
Mobile: 232-2233-460-330

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