Teaching Christian religious education: a review

In ten chapters or one hundred and eleven pages, the author presents a compendium of teaching methodology for Christian religious education. The purpose of the study, the innumerable misconceptions of students, the etymology of the word ‘methodology’, the definition and reason for religious education, the types of research methods, and note-taking suggestions are discussed in the first chapter. These give students the opportunity to revise as they write rather than present them with new information. The importance of the second chapter is that it provides a systematic approach to finding research/project problems, approach to finding a research topic, formulation of the research topic, sources of information, review of relevant literature, sources of information, review of relevant literature, hypotheses, 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 set out in the 1981 Revised National Education Policy, shifted from memorizing Bible passages to affecting the psychomotor and affective domains. The approaches to the study of Christian religious education discussed in Chapter 3 include the Bible-centered or salvation history approach, the phenomenological approach, the teacher-centered approach, and the Bible for Life, life experiences, and life-centered approaches. Therefore, new life was injected into the teaching of religious education as students discovered the religious implication of their actions.

Starting from the premise that there are several teaching methods in each discipline, the writer identifies in the fourth chapter some methods and factors that determine their suitability and the right time to use them. He rightly observes that the Christian religious studies teacher should not be dogmatic but should apply a method as the situation requires. These methods are divided into teacher-centered (lecture, questions), student-centered (project, homework), and joint methods (theater, field trips, storytelling, role-play).

In Chapter 5, the writer successfully defines technical terms such as teaching and teaching practice. The parameters used to identify the teacher’s competence are discussed. The preparation to teach section is aligned with Hendrick’s law of preparation. The discussion on the management, organization and administration of teaching practice and microteaching and its advantages are aimed at training the teacher to teach effectively, especially if the evaluation instruments at the end of the chapter are implemented.

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

The eighth chapter on the lesson plan follows logically from the seventh, as the classroom experience tests what has been planned. The writer realistically observes that the teacher’s success depends on mastery of the subject matter and the teacher’s work is incomplete until the evaluation is done. The importance of educational objectives, the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, cannot be overstated.

Commenting on the application of didactic materials, the author observes that a good material, among others, must be related to the objective and the age of the students, match their ability and arouse interest in them. The penultimate chapter presents a vivid description of the use of didactic 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 the justification for moral education in schools in an era of moral decline. The objective of religious education, therefore, is to facilitate desirable changes in an individual, since it encompasses theoretical, practical, moral, spiritual, human and divine aspects. All of society—home, school, church, voluntary organizations, the 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. Although it presents a format for research writing, the technical terms are not defined, leaving the reader in a difficult position to see the relationship between them. Several typos undermine the richness of the presentation. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this illustrative text of the Nigerian educational experience features graphic illustrations and review questions that stimulate critical thinking. One commendable idea is the lucid distinction made between the curriculum and the syllabus, which are treated as synonymous terms. The clear presentation of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives is also imperative. Perhaps another idea is how the incorrect use of textbooks could hinder one’s own initiative and turn learning into a mere routine.

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