Sift,-My wife and I are not a little concerned at the thought of sending our children away to a hoarding school in a few years time. We endeavour to teach our children to love God and to make them feel that He is their very personal friend. We fear that they are bound to be very disillusioned to find at school religion is a very cold and impersonal affair, forced upon them under the threat of corporal punishment, and involving compulsory attendances to frequent and (to them) boring services. Is it any wonder that there is a leakage problem'?
May I be permitted a few suggestions:
1. Regular private chats with a priest who understands children should be arranged without the child having to ask. In this connection the confessional lacks the warmth of a fireside chat (in more ways than one!).
2. Could interest be substituted for the strap and the cane in the teaching of doctrines? It seems to me that Bible stories, lives of saints, discussions, debates, essay writing in defence of beliefs and in answer to the classic attacks on the Church, competitions, films, pilgrimages, etc. All this could help to increase the child's knowledge of and loyalty to the Church and prepare him for the future.
3. Why not make the most of the Liturgy to make the Mass more lively and interesting. Children would prefer a form of dialogue mass and should take an active part in singing.. 4. Most important of all: the child associates the Church, not unnaturally, with its priests, brothers and nuns. He expects them all to excel in the virtues which they are trying to instil into him. He is as deeply scandalised by their failings as by those of his parents.
Leakage through Schools
SIR.-One may feel full sympathy with your Irish correspondent "Catholic Mother." and yet also feel a certain sympathy with the schoolteachers whom she condemns for teaching religion with beating and threats.
The real responsibility rests upon authority higher up which insists on a lengthy catechism being memorised from cover to cover. In the long rue, fear is the only way to attempt this useless and impossible task.
If some immigrants into England show a desire to have done with their religion, no doubt "Catholic Mother" supplies part of the explanation.
SIR,-1'm afraid it is too early for a conference on this subject. There are spasmodic complaints, but there is no general appreciation of the position.
When I started teaching, 30 years ago, I was shocked between theory and practice in religious education. I looked forward to the day when I became a head and ran a school on the basis of friendship, sympathy and mutual help between clergy, teachers. children and parents. Headships did eventually come, but the fruits were scanty. I now realise that the education of children is a fairly straightforward job, but the re-education of adults is a slow and painful process. There are quite a lot of folk who do not wish to change (themselves). It would be encouraging to hear of schools where humble and united efforts are made to live religion.