Veritas programme published by Chapman. First School RE T & G Copley published by SCM, £1.95. Sharing God's I.ife St Paul Publications, £5.
MANY primary teachers will already be familiar with the very attractive materials in the Veritas programme.
Much of the content and approach will be familiar to teachers using English primary syllabi. In view of the fact that it is designed for the Irish situation, it may he that teachers will use it selectively to supplement and develop existing resources.
The teacher's manual is very clearly organised, with full guidance on aims, content and method. Perhaps the suggestion of project and collage for so many lessons may be a little impractical in view of time available. and most teachers may decide to focus on one such activity for a term.
Question and answer learning tasks are set to test doctrinal knowledge. However, it is perhaps desirable that teachers use a wider choice of material for memorisation.
In the recent document on Catechesis, the Pope emphasises the place of memorisation in education, but he suggests that "quotations front the words of Jesus, and important Bible passages, the Ten Commandments, formulas of profession of the faith, of liturgical texts, of essential prayers" ... should be included as well as "key doctrinal ideas". suggestions for research which would pose big problems for teachers looking for suitable sources for this age group.
The programme is worked out in great detail. It perhaps presupposes an amount of training which many teachers are not able to have. hut the thorough integration of theology, scripture, liturgy and experience will be a great help in developing skill in this field.
A recent book for teachers in State primary schools is perhaps a useful partner for the Verdes scheme.
It is set in the context of the situation not unknown in Catholic schools . , . in which commitment to religious education is very dependent on the skill and enthusiasm of individual teachers, where there may he confusion regarding aims, and • even a neglect of its real educational importance in the life of the child.
The authors are concerned that apparent hostility and aparthy should not be taken as the whole picture. They believe that it is possible to build on real interest in religion which exists, and on the often very searching questions now being asked at primary level as well as at secondary level.
Their suggestions are based on what they feel can be achieved to give pupils an appreciation of what religion means for humanity, in a stimulating and interesting way, particularly if their questions are considered sympathetically.
There are useful sections on festivals and worship as well as on general content and approach. in the cheerful, practical style which characterises their books.
There is no doubt that children are receiving more effective help in learning how to praise and pray to God, as teachers realise how central this is to growth in faith.
There is a steady flow of material to help teachers and priests in this task.
A recent book with texts for 42 Masses for primary children will be a very useful resource. It has been prepared with the assistance of the Liturgy Commission. and based on the Directory for
Simplified presidential prayers, with additional material which illustrates their function in the Mass, will be a useful guide for priests. In adapting Bible readings. the concern is to use "simple but good English, without descending to childish language."
The danger of missing the full meaning through adaptation is stressed and hopefully, this style will be a guide for those who have this responsibility.