"Today, the word is WAITING.I am less beat up by CCD since I began a conscious effort not to be goal oriented, for I realized that that way lay madness.
"The way we wait for Christmas, God's chosen people waited for ages, looking and hoping for the Messiah.
"But you know who else is waiting?
"God waits for us... remember the story about the Prodigal Son, and how his father was waiting, and looking for him?
"That's the way God is waiting for us to come to Him -- and we can do it now, in the Mass... in Confessions, in prayer....."
Instead, I use the book's chapter order as an outline, these are the topics to which they need to be exposed, I settle on a single word or short phrase as an umbrella under which to discuss the topic, ("waiting," of course, was about Advent,) and then I devise a half dozen or eight ways in which to approach it.
We briefly touch on what we did the previous class, and then I throw a whole lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.
If we get around to half of my little stratagems that's a lot, and sometimes we begin something and it instantly bombs, and I just bail on it, (that happened with a movie once, strangely - IMpreviousE, humans of that age were absolutely hypnotized by any moving lights on any screen of an size. Oh well...)
What this means in practice is that I do a lot of work and a lot of preparation that I never even try out, much less see if it works.
Word searches and scrambles, crafts, stories, Simon Peter Says, skits, scripture scavenger hunts, faith sharing, game shows, coloring, team quizzes... and of course, whatever I've planned for, the third of the class that might truly enjoy that way of learning will be absent, and I will have a group that would rather die than stand up in front of the class and and read lines, or can't draw a straight line if their lives depended on it, or are so unchurched that they don't know there are ten commandments much less what they might be.
On the other hand.... the kid who has been giving me the most trouble all year suddenly knows the answer to every question, and is paying attention to everything.
I also try to work in terms and expressions that I know they haven't a ghost of a chance of knowing, throwing them away without explanation, because I am a firm believer in taking advantage of the fantastic, elastic memories of the young.
Hearing the right words and becoming accustomed to them is important.
The mysteries of the Faith are beyond their understanding? they are beyond everyone's understanding.
But not exposing them to them is a certain path to ignorance.
It is all of a piece with depriving the people of God of the liturgical music that is their birthright.
And I feel very strongly that the best and the brightest have been repelled for too long by never being presented with anything that would challenge even the least capable student in the slightest.
So there have to be at least nuggets in the big mess of pottage that we're offering them that can engage those that could do more than coloring and stories and singing nursery rhymes.