Here’s a second installment of Religious Education in a Virtual World.
A Good Question Will Start the Conversation
In the New Testament, one of the central elements of the encounters that led to increased faith was a question. In the Gospel of Luke (10:25) a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Also in the Gospel of Luke (24:17), Jesus asked Cleopas and his traveling companion, “What are you discussing with each other…?” In Acts of the Apostles (8:30), Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch, “Do you understand what you are reading?” In each case, the question led to a conversation that revealed the Good News.
A good question opens up the possibility for dialogue and importantly investigation. In each of the examples above the conversations required a closer look at events, scripture, and teachings.
In a virtual religious education classroom, students of any age should be involved and not just be listening to or watching a teacher. If you don’t like attending lectures in person, a virtual lecture – especially a long one – isn’t much better.
So, what kinds of questions?
Ask the students for their questions. What are the big things on their minds today when it comes to matters of faith? You don’t have to look too far to find them, especially these days. But when the students get to ask them, they begin to take charge of their learning. Our task then becomes one of helping them find the information that helps them answer their questions, through the conversation.
Ask the students to get involved with planning their learning, their classes. Helping students to dig deeper into the questions, discuss their findings, with the teacher guiding the process is how learning can occur. A class session becomes a time for presenting resources and ways to use them. A resource can also pose questions to a student for investigation. This is the basic strategy in most of the resources from our Department. They strive to question the student, and the student can question as well. And a student who is given the opportunity to pursue the questions is far more likely to stay involved and participate.
Ask the parents of the students. On this front, ask the parents how they can assist their children and the class in learning. Of course, there are also the practical aspects of asking parents for the virtual classroom. When is the best time for the class? What can be accomplished at home? What resources do you have and what do you need?
One of my teachers liked to say, “Think more about the questions you will ask than the lectures you will deliver.”