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Having spent many years as a teacher and as a parent for more, I cannot claim any real familiarity with what Eamonn Keane describes as one of the most defective religious education methodologies in use today - Thomas Groome's "Shared Christian Praxis". However, the connection between content and presentation cannot be divorced.
It was 30 years ago that Canadian sociologist, Marshall Macluan coined the phrase "The Medium is The Message." He identified the fact that Western society had replaced form with feeling: it wasn't so important what you said any more, rather the way you said it. Its form or medium is its purpose; form shapes content. The medium becomes the message.
What is certain is the deep concern parents have for their children's faith, no better justified than from the terrible statistics exposed recently by Professor McLaughlin showing how ineffective current faith education is. Yet most of our schools continue to have glowing CEO assessments each year, despite over 80 percent of students not practising the faith.
Those paid to be accountable say that the responsibility rests with parents, not with the schools. Meanwhile, until we find a better way, the prime reason Catholic schools exist is to give sound formation in the faith to children. Unfortunately nothing will be done until those accountable are prepared to admit that there is a problem rather than praising the Emperor's new clothes.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 2 (March 2003), p. 16
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