The time I taught "Religious Knowledge"

Who says nine-to thirteen-year-olds aren't interested in real religion?

Years ago, upon taking up a teaching career, I found I was expected to teach a subject called, in those days, "Scripture." Later, when the older pupils took the course, it was often called "Religious Knowledge." No one questioned my suitability for this important task, and afterward I found many teachers were resentful of having to teach a compulsory subject in which they themselves had no faith or belief.

A great many of the stories we taught from the Old Testament were about God making Himself known to certain individuals, together with various manifestations of divine power. Although the stories were interesting to the children, especially when dramatized to excite their imagination, nevertheless, the spiritual and moral import embodied in the narrative touched them hardly at all.

Children reared on a diet of magicians, spells, magic wands, fairies, giants, witchcraft, and—later—space technology and science fiction, were inclined to be blasé about Moses, Joseph, Elijah, David, Daniel, to name but a few.

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Understanding Life—a first footstep
October 1, 1990

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