The Most Difficult Teaching

For the past three years I have had the pleasure and the honor of teaching at a Catholic Jr/Sr High School. Many people have said that teaching in Catholic education is easy. Less discipline issues, smaller class sizes, greater support of parents, etc. While sometimes these things are true, being a teacher in a Catholic school definitely has its challenges.

The most challenging course I teach is religion. I have three sections of ninth grade theology. In this course I want to draw my students into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the perfect class for putting faith into action. However, I’m constantly amazed at how ninth grade students can know the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong yet consistently choose to do what’s wrong!

This past week we had an all school mass on the feast of the Archangels. Father gave a wonderful homily that focused on Jesus’s core teaching to love one another (Matthew 22:35-40). He talked about being Catholic by living a Christian life in word and deed. This is not the first time my ninth grade students have heard this message, but it’s like it goes in their heads for about 30 seconds and then it’s completely forgotten.http://commons.wikimedia.com The three Archangels[/caption]

I am certain that this message gets reinforced daily but they keep forgetting or regressing. It is even the primary lesson I want my students to be able to understand and put into action when they are both inside and outside of my classroom. If I can’t help my kids to love one another and their neighbors as themselves have I failed? 

I believe that theology is the most difficult teaching we do in Catholic schools because we have to model Jesus in our thoughts, actions, and deeds as well as teach a curriculum that is literally endless. Putting others especially God first is so counter cultural. When our culture dictates that we need personal branding, that we need to use social media to keep up to date and talk with our friends, and that being a leader and an extrovert is far superior to being a reflective thinker and introvert we will struggle to put faith into action. While our culture reveres the athlete, the movie star, and the accumulation of things over living the Gospel message, our teaching and modeling will continue to fall on deaf ears. What can we do to get our kids to become counter cultural and seek to do God’s will?

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