A message from Genevieve Daniels, RE Transition Team Member

What is the most important purpose of a good Religious Education program?

More than 40 UU’s from Milwaukee, Madison, Fox Valley and UUCW (12 members, ministers, and staff), gathered at First Unitarian Society in Milwaukee on December 8 for a workshop to explore trends in Unitarian Universalist Religious Education.  This is part of our 5-step process which will lead to a recommendation for our cherished RE programs.  Each month, from now through May, we will highlight one of our Transition steps.

Step One: Attend a discovery session on RE trends.  Completed!

The Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy from the Fox Valley UU Fellowship in Appleton led the interactive discussion where we were guided through questions such as:

  • What are the strengths of your current RE program?
  • What’s the main point of RE?
  • What do we want a child who goes through our RE

program to “know” by the time they are an adult?

  • How can UUCW fulfill RE needs?

Rev. Leone-Tracy reminded us that even if a child attended RE every-single-Sunday, they would only receive about four hours of religious education per month.

During the session, we learned about the three types of RE curriculum:

  1. Explicit curriculum – those things we directly teach or say
  2. Implicit curriculum – the things we actually do and the assumptions that drive our actions. Most of what children learn comes from this.
  3. The null curriculum – what we don’t say (and what is learned by the fact that we do not talk about certain topics)

We also learned about several trends in RE.

  • Immersive methods like “maker spaces,” and “ChurchCraft” online gaming, and a children’s chapel model where the “sermon” involves children moving to different “centers” or “stations” to take in the lesson of the day.
  • Middle Hour – which involves having RE for children AND adults between services instead of concurrent with them.
  • Container models like the “workshop rotation method” which allow for one-time teaching by “experts” from the congregation.

UUCW’s workshop participants had a lively conversation on “What is the point of RE?”  “Why do we do it?” The ultimate goal: to raise children to be Unitarian Universalists challenged and expanded our thinking beyond the content of lessons and curricula.

We look forward to hearing from YOU on the questions above, including what you see as the most important thing UUCW can do to strengthen its RE programs. Watch for and participate in any/all of the next steps as we explore together!

Step Two JANUARY: A simple survey about RE will be sent to children, youth, and members

Step Three FEBRUARY: Second workshop with expert RE consultant Kim Sweeney, Kim Sweeney on Feb 23 about RE Identity and the big framework of shifts in RE and culture.

Step Four MARCH: Focus Groups

Step Five APRIL/MAY: Compile results and present recommendations

For more information about the RE Transition and to get involved, contact Rev. Suzelle Lynch.