and others for practical suggestions in the teaching of catechism in schools, may 1 record the findings of a studentsociety-meeting based on a consideration of actual experience in a wide variety of schools ?
With reference to the principle of teaching catechism in schools. it was recorded that this type of oral instruction by questioning was employed in the Jewish Temples; wee practised by the Apostles, was found in the customs of Our Lord Himself " What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? ") and was perpetuated by the early Fathers of the
Church. Reference was made, for instance to St. Augustine's fourth century De calechizandis rebus. The importance of this type of elementary oral religious teaching was emphasised in the formulation of The Roman Catechism in 1566 by the Council of Trent and has continued to be stressed by Papal Encyclicals Since that time, the Encyclical of 1905, Acerbo Nimis being a case in point. The principle of catechism teaching may apparently be justifted: but what of the practice?
It was the very general experience of memhers that the Catechism had been. and was still being, learned by heart and consolidated by corporal punishment. Fr. Geary's comments on recent reforms in some schools were mentioned and supported, hut such schools are clearly in the minority.
Most prevalent defects in teaching methods over the country were agreed to be, first. the lack of introduction and explanation leading to learning without understanding; secondly, an arduous. dull and monotonous presentation which failed to inbue the desired interest in and zeal for the Faith: and thirdly the acceptance by the children of the doctrines in the Catechism as so many items of knowledge with no relation to life.
The following general suggestions were offered: a more sympathetic understanding of the child's difficulties, of vocabulary and meaning alike, resulting in the increased use of introduction and explanation; and a real endeavour to employ methods calculated to rouse interest and to assure assimilation of the facts taught. More detailed suggestions included the production of more attractive catechisms, possibly illustrated, and the use of a wall-newspaper, in which biblical events could be narrated in the manner of current I news.
With regard to the most fundamental question of teaching method a revival of the successful system of St. Sulpice and St. Francis de Sales, or a more widespread use of the Munich (Herbart-Ziller) method was advocated.
The last main suggestion for improvement was the studying of the Christian's Daily Exercise, from an early age. and concurrently with the rest of the catechism, to emphasise the importance of the Doctrines of the Church and of their close relation with daily life.
By such means, it was thought. children might continue to be instructed in the Doctrines of Divine' Truth, but their understanding of and love for the Faith might well be increased.
Nancy M. Jones.
President, Catholic Society, University College of Hull,