By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: How to Teach Religion - Principles and Methods
Author: Betts, George Herbert, 1868-1934
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Teach Religion - Principles and Methods" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

The Abingdon Religious Education Texts
David B. Downey, General Editor
Community Training School Series   Norman E. Richardson, Editor


Principles and Methods







CHAPTER                                                            PAGE

I. THE TEACHER HIMSELF                                               13

Importance of the teacher--Three types of teachers--The personal
factor in teaching religion--Developing the power of
personality--The cultivatable factors in personality--A scale for
determining personality--The teacher's mastery of
subject-matter--Methods of growth--Fields of mastery
demanded--Service and rewards--Problems and questions.

II. THE GREAT OBJECTIVE                                              30

Two great objectives in teaching--Making sure of the greater
objective--Teaching children _versus_ teaching
subject-matter--Subject-matter as a means instead of an end--Success
in instruction to be measured in terms of modified life, not of
material covered--The goal of a constantly developing Christian
character and experience--Problems for discussion.

III. THE FOURFOLD FOUNDATION                                         42

What the fourfold foundation consists of: (1) right _aims_, (2)
right _materials_ to reach these aims, (3) right _organization_ of
this material for instruction, (4) right _presentation_ in
instruction--The aim of teaching religion is (1) fruitful knowledge,
(2) right religious attitudes and growing consciousness of God, (3)
power and will to live righteously--Selecting subject-matter to meet
these ends--Principles of organization of material--The problem of
effective presentation--Questions for discussion.

IV. RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE OF MOST WORTH                                58

Not all religious knowledge of equal value--What determines value of
knowledge--Kind of knowledge needed by child--Developing the
child's idea of God--Harm from wrong concepts of God--Giving the
child the right concept of religion--The qualities by which religion
should be defined to the child--The child's knowledge of the Bible;
of the church; of religious forms of expression--Problems and

V. RELIGIOUS ATTITUDES TO BE CULTIVATED                              76

The meaning of religious attitudes--These attitudes lie at the basis
of both motives and character--Importance of the pupil's attitudes
toward the church school and class--Enjoyment of the lesson hour and
the growth of loyalty--The sense of mastery necessary to mental and
spiritual growth--The grounding of a continuous interest in the
Bible and religion--Growth in spiritual warmth and
responsiveness--The cultivation of ideals--The training of fine
appreciations--Worthy loyalties and devotions--Clearness of
God-consciousness--Questions and problems.


Religious instruction must carry across to life and conduct--Hence
necessity of finding practical outlet in expression for feelings,
ideals, emotions and attitudes resulting from instruction--The
setting up of certain religious habits--Expression in connection
with the life of the church--Expression in the home life--Expression
in the community and public school life--Expression in worship and
the devotional life--Problems for discussion.


The Bible the great source-book of religious material--Yet much
material other than biblical required--Principles for the selection
of material from the Bible--Biblical material for early childhood;
for later childhood; for adolescence--Story material and its
sources--Materials from nature--Materials from history and
biography--Picture material for religious teaching--Religious music
for children--Questions and problems.

VIII. THE ORGANIZATION OF MATERIAL                                  129

Four different types of organization--Organization applied (1) to
the curriculum as a whole, (2) to individual lessons--Haphazard
organization--Logical organization--Chronological
organization--Psychological organization--Three types of curriculum
organization: (1) Uniform lessons, (2) Graded lessons, (3) text
books of religion--Organizing daily lesson material--Typical lesson
plans--Problems for discussion.

IX. THE TECHNIQUE OF TEACHING                                       148

Teaching that sticks--Attention the key--Types of appeal to
attention--The control of interest--Interest and action--Variety and
change as related to interest--Social contagion of interest--The
prevention of distractions--The control of conduct--Danger points in
instruction--Establishing and maintaining standards--Questions and

X. MAKING TRUTH VIVID                                               165

Vividness of impression necessary to lasting value--The _whole_ mind
involved in religion--Learning to think in religion--Protecting
children against intellectual difficulties--The appeal of religion
to the imagination--Guiding principles for the religious
imagination--The use of the memory in religion--Laws of memory--How
to memorize--Problems for discussion.

XI. TYPES OF TEACHING                                                183

The several types of lessons for religious instruction--The
informational lesson--The use of the inductive lesson--The deductive
lesson in religion--The application of drill to religious
teaching--The lesson in appreciation--Conducting the review
lesson--How to make the lesson assignment--Questions and problems.

XII. METHODS USED IN THE RECITATION                                 201

Methods of procedure for the lesson hour--The use of the topical
method--Place and dangers of the lecture method--Securing
participation from the class--The question method--Principles of
good questioning--The treatment of answers--The story
method--Guiding principles in story teaching--The teaching method of
Jesus--Jesus the embodiment of all scientific pedagogy--Questions
and problems.


The teacher of religion needs to be very sure of himself at one point.
He ought to be able to answer affirmatively the question, "Have I the
prophetic impulse in my teaching?" Sooner or later, practical
difficulties will "come not singly but by battalions," and the spirit
needs to be fortified against discouragement. When driven back to the
second or third line defense it is important that such a line really
exists; the consciousness of being the spokesman for God makes the
teacher invulnerable and unconquerable.

But in order that this divine impulse may attain its greatest strength
and find the most direct, articulate, and effective expression, the
teacher must know _how_ as well as _what_ to teach. The most precious
spiritual energy may be lost because improperly directed or controlled.
Unhesitating insight into the solution of practical problems helps to
open up a channel through which the prophetic impulse can find fullest

There is no substitute for mastery of the technique of the teaching
process. Prayerful consecration cannot take its place. This ready
command of the methods of teaching, on the other hand, is in no sense an
equivalent of the consciousness of having been "called" or "chosen" to
teach religion. The two must go hand in hand. No one who feels himself
divinely appointed for this sacred task dares ignore the responsibility
of becoming a "workman not to be ashamed, _rightly_ dividing the word of

This volume by Dr. Betts offers the earnest teacher of religion an
exceptional opportunity to make more effective his ideal of
instruction. The treatment applies the best of modern educational
science to the problems of the church school, without, however, for a
moment, forgetting that a vital religious experience is the final goal
of all our teaching.

Besides setting forth the underlying principles of religious teaching in
a clear and definite way, the author has included in every chapter a
rich fund of illustration and concrete application which cannot fail to
prove immediately helpful in every church classroom. It is also believed
that students of religious education will find this treatment of method
by Professor Betts the most fundamental and sane that has yet appeared
in the field.



_Children can be brought to a religious character and experience through
right nurture and training in religion._ This is the fundamental
assumption on which the present volume rests, and it makes the religious
education of children the most strategic opportunity and greatest
responsibility of the church, standing out above all other obligations

Further, the successful teaching of religion is based on the same laws
that apply to other forms of teaching; hence teachers in church schools
need and have a right to all the help that a scientific pedagogy
permeated by an evangelistic spirit can give them. They also have the
obligation to avail themselves of this help for the meeting of their
great task.

This book undertakes to deal in a concrete and practical way with the
underlying principles of religious instruction. The plan of the text is
simple. First comes the part _the teacher_ must play in training the
child in religion. Then the spiritual changes and growth to be effected
in _the child_ are set forth as the chief objective of instruction. Next
is a statement of the _great aims,_ or goals, to be striven for in the
child's expanding religious experience. These goals are: (1) fruitful
_religious knowledge_; (2) right _religious attitudes--interests,
ideals, feelings, loyalties_; (3) the _application of this knowledge and
these attitudes to daily life and conduct_.

Following the discussion of aims is the question of just _what subject
matter_ to choose in order to accomplish these ends, and _how best to
organize_ the chosen material for instruction. And finally, _how most
effectively to present_ the subject matter selected to make it serve
its purpose in stimulating and guiding the spiritual growth and
development of children.

The volume is intended as a textbook for teacher-training classes,
students of religious education, and for private study by church-school
teachers. It is also hoped that ministers may find some help in its
pages toward meeting their educational problems.

Northwestern University,
Evanston, Illinois.



It is easy enough to secure buildings and classrooms for our schools.
The expenditure of so many dollars will bring us the equipment we
require. Books and materials may be had almost for the asking. The great
problem is to secure _teachers_--real teachers, teachers of power and
devotion who are able to leave their impress on young lives. Without
such teachers all the rest is but as sounding brass or a tinkling
cymbal. And to be a real teacher is a very high achievement.

Bishop Vincent was giving a lecture on "That Boy." He himself was "that
boy," and in the course of describing his school days he fell into
meditation as follows: "That old school master of mine!--He is dead
now--_and I have forgiven him!_--And I am afraid that was the chronology
of the matter; for I never was able to forgive him while he lived." I,
as one of the listeners, smiled at the bitter wit of the speaker, but
was oppressed.

This somber view of the impression sometimes left by teachers on their
pupils received an antidote the following day, however, when a venerable
old man approached my desk bearing in his hands an ancient and dog-eared
copy of a text in grammar. He opened the book and proudly showed me
written across the fly leaf "Grover Cleveland, President." Then he told
me this story:

"I have been a teacher. In one of my first schools I had Grover
Cleveland as a pupil. He came without a textbook in grammar, and I
loaned him mine. Years passed, and Grover Cleveland was President of the
United States. One day I was one of many hundreds passing in line at a
public reception to grasp the President's hand. I carried this book with
me, and when it came my turn to meet the President, I presented the
volume and said, 'Mr. President, do you recognize this book, and do you
remember me?' In an instant the light of recognition had flashed in Mr.
Cleveland's eyes. Calling me by name, he grasped my hand and held it
while the crowd waited and while he recalled old times and thanked me
for what I had meant to him when I was his teacher. Then he took the old
book and autographed it for me."

Three types of teachers.--Two types of teachers are remembered: one to
be forgiven after years have softened the antagonisms and resentments;
the other to be thought of with honor and gratitude as long as memory
lasts. Between these two is a third and a larger group: those who are
_forgotten_, because they failed to stamp a lasting impression on their
pupils. This group represents the _mediocrity_ of the profession, not
bad enough to be actively forgiven, not good enough to claim a place in
gratitude and remembrance.

To which type would we belong? To which type _can_ we belong? Can we
choose? What are the factors that go to determine the place we shall
occupy in the scale of teachers?


When we revert to our own pupil days we find that the impressions which
cling to our memories are not chiefly impressions of facts taught and of
lessons learned, but of the _personality_ of the teacher. We may have
forgotten many of the truths presented and most of the conclusions
drawn, but the warmth and glow of the human touch still remains.

To be a teacher of religion requires a particularly exalted personality.
The teacher and the truth taught should always leave the impression of
being of the same pattern. "For their sakes I sanctify myself," said the
Great Teacher; shall the teachers of his Word dare do less!

The teacher as an interpreter of truth.--This is not to say that the
subject matter taught is unimportant, nor that the lessons presented are
immaterial. It is only to say that life responds first of all to _life_.
Truth never comes to the child disembodied and detached, but always with
the slant and quality of the teacher's interpretation of it. It is as if
the teacher's mind and spirit were the stained glass through which the
sunlight must fall; all that passes through the medium of a living
personality takes its tone and quality from this contact. The pupils may
or may not grasp the lessons of their books, but their teachers are
living epistles, known and read by them all.

For it is the concrete that grips and molds. Our greatest interest and
best attention center in persons. The world is neither formed nor
reformed by abstract truths nor by general theories. Whatever ideals we
would impress upon others we must first have realized in ourselves. What
we _are_ often drowns out what we say. Words and maxims may be
misunderstood; character seldom is. Precepts may fail to impress;
personality never does. God tried through the ages to reveal his
purposes to man by means of the law and the prophets, but man refused to
heed or understand. It was only when God had made his thought and plan
for man concrete in the person of Jesus of Nazareth that man began to

The first and most difficult requirement of the teacher, therefore,
is--_himself_, his personality. He must combine in himself the qualities
of life and character he seeks to develop in his pupils. He must look to
his personality as the source of his influence and the measure of his
power. He must be the living embodiment of what he would lead his pupils
to become. He must live the religion he would teach them. He must
possess the vital religious experience he would have them attain.

The building of personality.--Personality is not born, it is made. A
strong, inspiring personality is not a gift of the gods, nor is a weak
and ineffective personality a visitation of Providence. Things do not
_happen_ in the realm of the spiritual any more than in the realm of
nature. Everything is _caused_. Personality grows. It takes its form in
the thick of the day's work and its play. It is shaped in the crush and
stress of life's problems and its duties. It gains its quality from the
character of the thoughts and acts that make up the common round of
experience. It bears the marks of whatever spiritual fellowship and
communion we keep with the Divine.

Professor Dewey tells us that character is largely dependent on the mode
of assembling its parts. A teacher may have a splendid native
inheritance, a fine education, and may move in the best social circles,
and yet not come to his best in personality. It requires some high and
exalted task in order to assemble the powers and organize them to their
full efficiency. The urge of a great work is needed to make potential
ability actual. Paul did not become the giant of his latter years until
he took upon himself the great task of carrying the gospel to the

Our own responsibility.--It follows then that the building of our
personalities is largely in our own hands. True, the influence of
heredity is not to be overlooked. It is easier for some to develop
attractive, compelling qualities than for others. The raw material of
our nature comes with us; is what heredity decrees. But the finished
product bears the stamp of our training and development. Fate or destiny
never takes the reins from our hands. We are free to shape ourselves
largely as we will.

Our inner life will daily grow by what it feeds upon. This is the great
secret of personality-building. What to-day we build into thought and
action to-morrow becomes character and personality. Let us cultivate our
interests, think high thoughts, and give ourselves to worthy deeds, and
these have soon become a life habit. Let our hearts go out in
helpfulness to those about us, and sympathy for human kind becomes a
compelling motive in our lives before we are aware. Let us consciously
listen to the still small voice speaking to the soul, and we will find
our souls expanding to meet the Infinite.

The secret.--He who would develop his personality into the full
measure of its strength and power must, then, set his goal at _living
constantly in the presence of the_ BEST. This will include the best in
thought and memory and anticipation. It will permit none but cheerful
moods, nor allow us to dwell with bitterness upon petty wrongs and
grievances. It will control the tongue, and check the unkind word or
needless criticism. It will cause us to seek for the strong and
beautiful qualities in our friends and associates, and not allow us to
point out their faults nor magnify their failings. It will cure us of
small jealousies and suppress all spirit of revenge. It will save us
from idle worry and fruitless rebellion against such ills as cannot be
cured. In short, it will free our lives from the crippling influence of
negative moods and critical attitudes. It will teach us to _be ruled by
our admirations rather than by our aversions_.

Above all, he who would build a personality fitted to serve as the
teacher of the child in his religion must constantly live in the
presence of _the best he can attain in God_. There is no substitute for
this. No fullness of intellectual power and grasp, no richness of
knowledge gleaned, and no degree of skill in instruction can take the
place of a vibrant, immediate, Spirit-filled consciousness of God in the
heart. For religion is _life_, and the best definition of religion we
can present to the child is the example and warmth of a life inspired
and vivified by contact with the Source of all spiritual being. The
authority of the teacher should rest on his own religious experience,
rather than on the spiritual experience of others.

A character chart.--There is no possibility, of course, of making a
list of all the qualities that enter into our personalities. Nor would
it be possible to trace all the multiform ways in which these qualities
may combine in our characters. It is worth while, however, to consider a
few of the outstanding traits which take first place in determining our
strength or weakness, and especially such as will respond most readily
to conscious training and cultivation. Such a list follows. Each quality
may serve as a goal both for our own development and for the training of
our pupils.


1 Open-minded, inquiring, broad
         Narrow, dogmatic, not hungry for truth

2 Accurate, thorough, discerning
         Indefinite, superficial, lazy

3 Judicious, balanced, fair
         Prejudiced, led by likes and dislikes

4 Original, independent, resourceful
         Dependent, imitative, subservient

5 Decisive, possessing convictions
         Uncertain, wavering, undecided

6 Cheerful, joyous, optimistic
         Gloomy, morose, pessimistic, bitter

7 Amiable, friendly, agreeable
         Repellent, unsociable, disagreeable

8 Democratic, broadly sympathetic
         Snobbish, self-centered, exclusive

9 Tolerant, sense of humor, generous
         Opinionated, dogmatic, intolerant

10 Kind, courteous, tactful
         Cruel, rude, untactful

11 Tractable, cooperative, teachable
         Stubborn, not able to work with others

12 Loyal, honorable, dependable
         Disloyal, uncertain dependability

13 Executive, forceful, vigorous
         Uncertain, weak, not capable

14 High ideals, worthy, exalted
         Low standards, base, contemptible

15 Modest, self-effacing
         Egotistical, vain, autocratic

16 Courageous, daring, firm
         Overcautious, weak, vacillating

17 Honest, truthful, frank, sincere
         Low standards of honor and truth

18 Patient, calm, equable
         Irritable, excitable, moody

19 Generous, open-hearted, forgiving
         Stingy, selfish, resentful

20 Responsive, congenial
         Cold, repulsive, uninviting

21 Punctual, on schedule, capable
         Tardy, usually behindhand, incapable

22 Methodical, consistent, logical
         Haphazard, desultory, inconsistent

23 Altruistic, given to service
         Indifferent, not socially-minded

24 Refined, alive to beauty, artistic
         Coarse, lacking æsthetic quality

25 Self-controlled, decision, purpose
         Suggestible, easily led, uncertain

26 Good physical carriage, dignity
         Lack of poise, ill posture, no grace

27 Taste in attire, cleanliness, pride
         Careless in dress, frumpy, no pride

28 Face smiling, voice pleasing
         Somber expression, voice unpleasant

29 Physical endurance, vigor, strength
         Quickly tired, weak, sluggish

30 Spiritual responsiveness strong
         Spiritually weak, inconstant, uncertain

31 Prayer life warm, satisfying
         Prayer cold, formal, little comfort

32 Religious certainty, peace, quiet
         Conflict, strain, uncertainty

33 Religious experience expanding
         Spiritual life static or losing force

34 God a near, inspiring reality
         God distant, unreal, hard of approach

35 Power to win others to religion
         Influence little or negative

36 Interest in Bible and religion
         Little concern for religion and Bible

37 Religion makes life fuller and richer
         Religion felt as a limitation

38 Deeply believe great fundamentals
         Lacking in foundations for faith

39 Increasing triumph over sin
         Too frequent falling before temptation

40 Religious future hopeful
         Religious growth uncertain

It is highly instructive for one to grade himself on this list of
qualities; or he may have his friends and associates grade him, thus
getting an estimate of the impression he is making on others. Teachers
will find it well worth while to attempt to grade each of their pupils;
for this will give a clearer insight into their strengths and
weaknesses, and so indicate where to direct our teaching. Mark each
separate set of qualities on the scale of 10 for the highest possible
attainment. If the strength of the _positive_ qualities of a certain set
(as in No. 10) can be marked but 6, then the negative qualities of this
set must carry a mark of 4.


One can never teach all he knows. Dr. John Dewey tells us that the
subject matter of our instruction should be so well mastered that it has
become second nature to us; then when we come to the recitation we can
give our best powers of thought and insight to the _human
element_--seeking to understand the boys and girls as we teach them.

Our knowledge and mastery must always be much broader than the material
we actually present. It must be deeper and our grasp more complete than
can be reached by our pupils. For only this will give us the mental
perspective demanded of the teacher. Only this will enable our thought
to move with certainty and assurance in the field of our instruction.
And only this will win the confidence and respect of our pupils who,
though their minds are yet unformed, have nevertheless a quick sense for
mastery or weakness as revealed in their teacher.

A danger confronted by teachers in church schools.--Teachers in our
church schools are at a disadvantage at this point. They constitute a
larger body than those who teach in the day schools, yet the vast army
who teach our children religion receive no salaries. They are engaged in
other occupations, and freely give their services as teachers of
religion with no thought of compensation or reward. The time and
enthusiasm they give to the Sunday school is a free-will offering to a
cause in which they believe. All this is inspiring and admirable, but it
also contains an element of danger.

For it is impossible to set up scholastic and professional standards for
our teachers of religion as we do for the teachers in our day schools.
The day-school teacher, employed by the state and receiving public
funds, must go through a certain period of training for his position. He
must pass examinations in the subject matter he is to teach, and in his
professional fitness for the work of the teacher. He must have a
certificate granted by responsible authorities before he can enter the
schoolroom. He must show professional growth while in service if he is
to receive promotion or continue in the vocation.

Greater personal responsibility on church school teacher.--Naturally,
all this is impossible with volunteer teachers who receive no pay for
their services and are not employed under legal authority. No
compulsion can be brought to bear; all must rest on the sense of duty
and of opportunity of the individual teacher. Yet the Sunday school
teacher needs even a more thorough background of preparation than the
day-school teacher, for the work of instruction in the Sunday school is
almost infinitely harder than in the day school. Religion and morals are
more difficult to teach than arithmetic and geography. The church
building usually lacks adequate classroom facilities. The lesson
material is not as well graded and adapted to the children as the
day-school texts. The lessons come but once a week, and the time for
instruction is insufficient. The children do not prepare their lessons,
and so come to the Sunday school lacking the mental readiness essential
to receiving instruction.

This all means that the Sunday school teacher must rise to a sense of
his responsibilities. He must realize that he holds a position of
influence second to none in the spiritual development of his pupils. He
must remember that he is dealing with a seed-time whose harvest involves
the fruits of character and destiny. With these facts in mind he must
ask himself whether he is justified in standing before his class as
teacher without having given the time and effort necessary for complete

The teacher and his Bible.--The teacher should know his Bible. This
means far more than to know its text and characters. The Bible is
history, it is literature, it is a treatise on morals, it is philosophy,
it is a repository of spiritual wisdom, it is a handbook of inspiration
and guidance to the highest life man has in any age conceived.

To master the Bible one must have a background of knowledge of the life
and history of its times. He must enter into the spirit and genius of
the Hebrew nation, know their aspirations, their political and economic
problems, and understand their tragedies and sufferings. He must know
the historical and social setting of the Jewish people, the nations and
civilizations that surrounded them, and the customs, mode of life, and
trend of thought of contemporaneous peoples.

Not all of these things can be learned from the Bible itself. One must
make use of the various helps and commentaries now available to Bible
students. The religions of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Greece,
and Rome should be studied. Ancient literatures should be placed under
tribute, and every means employed to gain a working knowledge of the
social medium out of which the Christian religion developed.

The teacher's knowledge of children.--Time was when we thought of the
child as a miniature man, differing from adults on the physical side
only in size and strength, and on the mental side only in power and
grasp of thought. Now we know better. We know that the child differs
from the adult not only in the _quantity_ but also in the _quality_ of
his being.

It is the business of the teacher to understand how the child _thinks_.
What is the child's concept of God? What is the character of the child's
prayer? How does the child _feel_ when he takes part in the acts of
worship? We talk to the child about serving God; what is the child's
understanding of service to God? We seek to train the child to loyalty
to the church; what does the church stand for to the child? We teach the
child about sin and forgiveness; just what is the child's comprehension
of sin, and what does he understand by forgiveness? We tell the child
that he must love God and the Christ; can a child control his
affections as he will, or do they follow the trend of his thoughts and
experiences? These are not idle questions. They are questions that must
be answered by every teacher who would be more than the blind leader of
the blind.

Coming to know the child.--How shall the teacher come to know the
child? Professor George Herbert Palmer sets forth a great truth when he
says that the first quality of a great teacher is the quality of
_vicariousness_. By this he means the ability on the part of the teacher
to step over in his imagination and take the place of the child. To look
at the task with the child's mind and understanding, to feel the appeal
of a lesson or story through the child's emotions, to confront a
temptation with the child's power of will and self-control--this ability
is the beginning of wisdom for those who would understand childhood. The
teacher must first of all, therefore, be a sympathetic investigator in
the laboratory of child life. Not only in the Sunday school, but daily,
he must _observe, study, seek to interpret children_.

Nor should the teacher of religion neglect the books on the child and
his religion. Many investigators are giving their time and abilities to
studying child nature and child religion. A mastery of their findings
will save us many mistakes in the leadership and training of children. A
knowledge of their methods of study will show us how ourselves more
intelligently to study childhood. Comprehension of the principles they
represent, coupled with the results of our own direct interpretation of
children, will convince us that, while each child differs from every
other, _certain fundamental laws apply to all childhood_. It is the
teacher's task and privilege to master these laws.

Knowledge of technique.--Teaching is an _art_, which must be learned
the same as any other art. True, there are those who claim that anyone
who knows a thing can teach it; but often the teacher who makes such a
claim is himself the best refutation of its validity when he comes
before his class. Probably most of us have known eminent specialists in
their field of learning who were but indifferent teachers. It is not
that they knew too much about their subjects, but that they had not
mastered the art of its presentation to others.

The class hour is the teacher's great opportunity. His final measure as
a teacher is taken as he stands before his class in the recitation. Here
he succeeds or fails. In fact, here the whole system of religious
education succeeds or fails. For it is in this hour, where the teacher
meets his pupils face to face and mind to mind, that all else
culminates. It is for this hour that the Sunday school is organized, the
classrooms provided, and the lesson material prepared. It is in this
hour that the teacher succeeds in kindling the interest, stirring the
thought and feeling, and grounding the loyalty of his class. Or, failing
in this, it is in the recitation hour that the teacher leaves the
spiritual life of the child untouched by his contact with the Sunday
school and so defeats its whole intent and purpose.

The teacher of religion should therefore ask himself: "What is my
craftsmanship in instruction? Do I know how to _present_ this material
so that it will take hold upon my class? Do I know the technique of the
recitation hour, and the principles of good teaching? Have I read what
the scholars have written and what the experience of others has to teach
me. Have I definitely planned and sought for skill? Is my work in the
classroom the best that I can make it?"

The teacher must continuously be a student.--The successful teacher of
religion must, therefore, be a student. He must continually grow in
knowledge and in teaching power. There is no possibility of becoming
"prepared" through the reading of certain books and the pursuit of
certain courses of study and then having this preparation serve without
further growth. The famous Dr. Arnold, an insatiable student until the
day of his death, when asked why he found it necessary to prepare for
each day's lessons, said he preferred that his pupils "should drink from
a running stream rather than from a stagnant pool." This, then, should
be the teacher's standard: _A broad background of general preparation,
constant reading and study in the field of religion and religious
teaching, special preparation for each lesson taught_.

The churches of each community should unite in providing a school for
teacher training. Where the community training school cannot be
organized, individual churches should organize training classes for
their teachers. Such schools and classes have been provided in hundreds
of places, and the movement is rapidly spreading. Wherever such
opportunities are available the best church school teachers are flocking
to the classes and giving the time and effort necessary to prepare for
better service.

Even where no organized training classes are at present available, the
earnest teacher can gain much help from following an organized course of
reading in such lines as those just given. Excellent texts are available
in most of these fields.

The reward.--One deep and abiding satisfaction may come to the teacher
who feels the burden of reaching the standards set forth in this lesson.
_It is all worth while_. Some make the mistake of charging against
their task all the time, effort and devotion that go into preparing
themselves as teachers of religion. But this is a false philosophy. For
_a great work greatly performed leaves the stamp of its greatness on the
worker_. All that we do toward making out of ourselves better teachers
of childhood adds to our own spiritual equipment. All the study, prayer,
and consecration we give to our work for the children returns a
hundredfold to us in a richer experience and a larger capacity for

     1. Recall several teachers whom you remember best from your own
     pupil days, and see whether you can estimate the qualities in their
     character or teaching which are responsible for the lasting

     2. Are you able to determine from the character chart which are
     your strongest qualities? Which are your weakest qualities? Just
     what methods are you planning to use to improve your personality?

     3. In thinking of your class, are you able to judge in connection
     with different ones on what qualities of character they most need
     help? Are you definitely seeking to help on these points in your

     4. Do you think that church-school teachers could pass as good an
     examination on what they undertake to teach as day-school teachers?
     Are the standards too high for day-school teachers? Are they high
     enough for church-school teachers?

     5. Have you seen Sunday-school teachers at work who evidently did
     not know their Bibles? Have you seen others who seemed to know
     their Bibles but who were ignorant of childhood? Have you seen
     others whose technique of teaching might have been improved by a
     little careful study and preparation? Are you willing to apply
     these three tests to yourself?


Palmer, The Ideal Teacher.

Hyde, The Teacher's Philosophy.

Slattery, Living Teachers.

Horne, The Teacher as Artist.



All teaching has two objectives--the _subject_ taught and the _person_
taught. When we teach John grammar (or the Bible) we teach grammar (or
the Bible), of course; but we also teach _John_. And the greater of
these two objectives is John. It is easy enough to attain the lesser of
the objectives. Anyone of fair intelligence can master a given amount of
subject matter and present it to a class; but it is a far more difficult
thing to understand the child--to master the inner secrets of the mind,
the heart, and the springs of action of the learner.

Who can measure the potentialities that lie hidden in the soul of a
child! Just as the acorn contains the whole of the great oak tree
enfolded in its heart, so the child-life has hidden in it all the powers
of heart and mind which later reach full fruition. Nothing is _created_
through the process of growth and development. Education is but a
process of unfolding and bringing into action the powers and capacities
with which the life at the beginning was endowed by its Creator.


The child comes into the world--indeed, comes into the school--with much
potential and very little actual capital. Nature has through heredity
endowed him with infinite possibilities. But these are but promises;
they are still in embryonic form. The powers of mind and soul at first
lie dormant, waiting for the awakening that comes through the touch of
the world about and for the enlightenment that comes through

Given just the right touch at the opportune moment, and these potential
powers spring into dynamic abilities, a blessing to their possessor and
to the world they serve. Left without the right training, or allowed to
turn in wrong directions, and these infinite capacities for good may
become instruments for evil, a curse to the one who owns them and a
blight to those against whom they are directed.

Children the bearers of spiritual culture.--The greatest business of
any generation or people is, therefore, the education of its children.
Before this all other enterprises and obligations must give way, no
matter what their importance. It is at this point that civilization
succeeds or fails. Suppose that for a single generation our children
should, through some inconceivable stroke of fate, refuse to open their
minds to instruction--suppose they should refuse to learn our science,
our religion, our literature, and all the rest of the culture which the
human race has bought at so high a price of sacrifice and suffering.
Suppose they should turn deaf ears to the appeal of art, and reject the
claims of morality, and refuse the lessons of Christianity and the
Bible. Where then would all our boasted progress be? Where would our
religion be? Where would modern civilization be? All would revert to
primitive barbarism, through the failure of this one generation, and the
race would be obliged to start anew the long climb toward the mountain
top of spiritual freedom.

Each generation must therefore create anew in its own life and
experience the spiritual culture of the race. Each child that comes to
us for instruction, weak, ignorant, and helpless though he be, is
charged with his part in the great program God has marked out for man to
achieve. Each of these little ones is the bearer of an immortal soul,
whose destiny it is to take its quality and form from the life it lives
among its fellows. And ours is the dread and fascinating responsibility
for a time to be the mentor and guide of this celestial being. Ours it
is to deal with the infinite possibilities of child-life, and to have a
hand in forming the character that this immortal soul will take. Ours it
is to have the thrilling experience of experimenting in the making of a

Childhood's capacity for growth.--Nor must we ever think that because
the child is young, his brain unripe, and his experience and wisdom
lacking, our responsibility is the less. For the child's earliest
impressions are the most lasting, and the earliest influences that act
upon his life are the most powerful in determining its outcome. Remember
that the babe, starting at birth with nothing, has in a few years
learned speech, become acquainted with much of his immediate world,
formed many habits which will follow him through life, and established
the beginnings of permanent character and disposition. Remember the
indelible impression of the bedside prayers of your mother, of the
earliest words of counsel of your father, of the influence of a loved
teacher, and then know that other children are to-day receiving their
impressions from us, their parents and teachers.

Consider for a moment the child as he comes to us for instruction. We no
longer insist with the older theologies that he is completely under the
curse of "original sin," nor do we believe with certain sentimentalists
that he comes "trailing clouds of glory." We believe that he has
infinite capacities for good, and equally infinite capacities for evil,
either of which may be developed. We know that at the beginning the
child is sinless, pure of heart, his life undefiled. To know this is
enough to show us our part. This is to lead the child aright until he is
old enough to follow the right path of his own accord, to ground him in
the motives and habits that tend to right living, and so to turn his
mind, heart, and will to God that his whole being seeks accord with the

Religious conservation.--If our leading of the child is wise, and his
response is ready, there will be no falling away from a normal Christian
life and a growing consciousness of God. This does not mean that the
child will never do wrong, nor commit sin. It does not mean that the
youth will not, when the age of choice has come, make a personal
decision for Christ and consecrate his life anew to Christ's service. It
means, rather, that the whole attitude of mind, and the complete trend
of life of the child will be religious. It means that the original
purity of innocence will grow into a conscious and joyful acceptance of
the Christ-standard. It means that the child need never know a time when
he is not within the Kingdom, and growing to fuller stature therein. It
means that we should set our aim at _conservation_ instead of
reclamation as the end of our religious training.

Yet what a proportion of the energy of the church is to-day required for
the reclaiming of those who should never have been allowed to go astray!
Evangelistic campaigns, much of the preaching, "personal work,"
Salvation Army programs, and many other agencies are of necessity
organized for the reclaiming of men and women who but yesterday were
children in our homes and church schools, and plastic to our training.
What a tragic waste of energy!--and then those who never return! Should
we not be able more successfully to carry out the Master's injunction,
"_Feed my lambs_"?

The child-Christian.--All of these considerations point to the
inevitable conclusion that the child is the great objective of our
teaching. Indeed, the child ought to be the objective of the work of the
whole church. The saving of its children from wandering outside the fold
is the supreme duty and the strategic opportunity of the church,
standing out above all other claims whatever. We are in some danger of
forgetting that when Jesus wanted to show his disciples the standard of
an ideal Christian he "took a child and set him in the midst of them."
We do not always realize that to _keep_ a child a Christian is much more
important than to reclaim him after he has been allowed to get outside
the fold.

The recent report of a series of special religious meetings states that
there were a certain number of conversions "_exclusive of children_,"
the implication being that the really important results were in the
decisions of the adults. The same point of view was revealed when a
church official remarked after the reception of a large group of new
members, "It was an inspiring sight, _except that there were so few
adults!"_ When shall we learn that if we do our duty by the children
there will be fewer adults left outside for the church to receive?


The teacher must first of all take his stand with the child. He must
not allow his attention and enthusiasms to become centered on the matter
he teaches. He must not be satisfied when he has succeeded in getting a
certain fact lodged in the minds of his pupils. He must first, last, and
all the time look upon subject matter, no matter how beautiful and true
it may be, as a _means_ to an end. The end sought is certain desired
changes in the life, thought, and experience of the child. There are
hosts of teachers who can teach grammar (or the Bible), but
comparatively _few who can teach John_.

This does not mean that the material we teach is unimportant, nor that
we can fulfill our duty as teachers without the use of interesting,
fruitful, and inspiring subject matter. It does not mean that we are not
to love the subject we teach, and feel our heart thrill in response to
its beauty and truth.

Making subject matter a means instead of an end.--One who is not
filled with enthusiasm for a subject has no moral right to attempt to
teach it, for the process will be dead and lifeless, failing to kindle
the fires of response in his pupils and lacking in vital results. But
the true teacher never loves a body of subject matter for its own sake;
he loves it for what _through it_ he can accomplish in the lives of
those he teaches.

As a _student_, searching for the hidden meanings and thrilling at the
unfolding beauties of some field of truth which we are investigating, we
may love the thing we study for its own sake; and who of us does not
feel in that way toward sections of our Bible, a poem, the record of
noble lives, or the perfection of some bit of scientific truth? But when
we face about and become the _teacher_, when our purpose is not our own
learning but the teaching of another, then our attitude must change. We
will then love our cherished body of material not less, but differently.
We will now care for the thing we teach as an artisan cares for his
familiar instruments or the artist cares for his brush--we will prize it
as the _means through which_ we shall attain a desired end.

Subject matter always subordinate to life.--It will help us to
understand the significance of this fundamental principle if we pause to
realize that all the matter we teach our children had its origin in
human experience; it was first a part of human life. Our scientific
discoveries have come out of the pressure of necessities that nature has
put upon us, and what we now put into our textbooks first was _lived_ by
men and women in the midst of the day's activities. The deep thoughts,
the beautiful sentiments, and the high aspirations expressed in our
literature first existed and found expression in the lives of people.
The cherished truths of our Bible and its laws for our spiritual
development appeal to our hearts just because they have arisen from the
lives of countless thousands, and so have the reality of living

There is, therefore, no abstract truth for truth's sake. Just as all our
culture material--our science, our literature, our body of religious
truth--had its rise out of the experience of men engaged in the great
business of living, so all this material must go back to life for its
meaning and significance. The science we teach in our schools attains
its end, not when it is learned as a group of facts, but when it has
been _set at work_ by those who learn it to the end that they live
better, happier, and more fruitful lives. The literature we offer our
children has fulfilled its purpose, not when they have studied the
mechanism of its structure, read its pages, or committed to memory its
lines, but when its glowing ideals and high aspirations have been
_realized in the lives_ of those who learn it.

And so this also holds for the Bible and its religious truth. Its rich
lessons full of beautiful meaning may be recited and its choicest verses
stored in the memory and still be barren of results, except as they are
put to the test and find expression in living experience. The only true
test of learning a thing is _whether the learner lives it_. The only
true test of the value of what one learns is the extent to which it
affects his daily life. The value of our teaching is therefore always to
be measured by the degree to which it finds expression in the lives of
our pupils. _John_, not grammar (nor even the Bible), is the true
objective of our teaching.


Not only will this point of view vitalize our teaching for the pupils,
but it will also save it from becoming commonplace and routine for
ourselves. This truth is brought out in a conversation that occurred
between an old schoolmaster and his friend, a business man.

The true objective saves from the rut of routine.--Said the business
man, "Do you teach the same subjects year after year?"

The schoolmaster replied that he did.

"Do you not finally come to know this material all by heart, so that it
is old to you?" asked the friend.

The schoolmaster answered that such was the case.

"And yet you must keep going over the same ground, class after class and
year after year!" exclaimed the business man.

The schoolmaster admitted that it was so.

"Then," said his friend, "I should think that you would tire beyond
endurance of the old facts, and grow weary beyond expression of
repeating them after the charm of novelty and newness has gone. How do
you live through the sameness and grind?"

"You forget one thing!" exclaimed the old schoolmaster, who had learned
the secret of the _great objective_. "You forget that I am not really
teaching that old subject matter at all; I am teaching _living boys and
girls!_ The matter I teach may become familiar. It may have lost the
first thrill of novelty. But the _boys and girls are always new_; their
hearts and minds are always fresh and inviting; their lives are always
open to new impressions, and their feet ready to be turned in new
directions. The old subject matter is but the means by which I work upon
this living material that comes to my classroom from day to day. I
should no more think of growing tired of it than the musician would
think of growing tired of his violin."

And so the schoolmaster's friend was well answered.

Unsafe measures of success.--It is possible to lodge much subject
matter in the mind which, once there, does not function. It is possible
to teach many facts which play no part in shaping the ideals, quickening
the enthusiasms, or directing the conduct. And all mental material which
lies dead and unused is but so much rubbish and lumber of the mind.
It plays no part in the child's true education, and it dulls the edge
of the learner's interest and his enjoyment of the school and its

It is possible to have the younger children in our Sunday schools from
week to week and still fail to secure sufficient hold on them so that
they continue to come after they have reached the age of deciding for
themselves. The proof of this is all too evident in the relatively small
proportion of youth in our church-school classes between the ages of
fifteen and twenty-five.

It is possible to offer the child lessons from the Bible throughout all
the years of childhood, and yet fail to ground sufficient interest in
the Bible or religion so that in later years the man or woman naturally
turns to the Bible for guidance or comfort, and fails to make religion
the determining principle of the life.

The child the only true measure of success.--Let us therefore be sure
of our objective. Let us never be proud nor satisfied that we have
taught our class so much _subject matter_--so many facts, maxims, or
lessons of whatever kind. We shall need to teach them all these things,
and teach them well. But we must inquire further. We must ask, What have
these things _done_ for the boys and girls of my class? What has been
the outcome of my teaching? How much effect has it had in life,
character, conduct? In how far are my pupils different for having been
in my class, and for the lessons I have taught them? In how far have I
accomplished the _true objective_ of my teaching?

Let us never feel secure merely because the children are found in the
Sunday school, and because the statistical reports show increase in
numbers and in average attendance. These things are all well; without
them we cannot do the work which the church should do for its children.
But these are but the externals, the outward signs. We must still
inquire what real influence the school is having on the growing
spiritual life of its children. We must ask what part our instruction is
having in the making of Christians. We must measure all our success in
terms of the child's response to our efforts. We must realize that we
have failed except as we have caused the child's spiritual nature to
unfold and his character to grow toward the Christ ideal.

     1. As you think of your own teaching, are you able to decide
     whether you have been sufficiently clear in your objective? Have
     you rather _assumed_ that if you presented the lessons as they came
     the results must of necessity follow, or have you been alive to the
     real effects on your pupils?

     2. Are you able to discover definite changes that are working out
     in the lives of your pupils from month to month as you have them
     under your instruction? Are they more reverent, more truthful, more
     sure against temptation, increasingly conscious of God in their
     lives? What other effects might you look for?

     3. Do you think that the church is in some degree overlooking its
     most strategic opportunity in not providing more efficiently for
     the religious education of its children? If more attention were
     given to religious nurture of children, would the problems of
     evangelism be less pressing, and a larger proportion of adults
     found in the church? What can the church school do to help? What
     can your class do?

     4. Do you love the matter that you seek to teach the children? Do
     you love it for what it means to you, or for what through it you
     can do for them? Do you look upon the material you teach truly as a
     means and not as an end? Are you teaching subject matter or

     5. Do you feel the real worth and dignity of childhood? Do you
     sometimes stop to remember that the ignorant child before you
     to-day may become the Phillips Brooks, the Henry Ward Beecher, the
     Livingstone, the Frances Willard, the Luther of to-morrow? Do you
     realize the responsibility that one takes upon himself when he
     undertakes to guide the development of a life?

     6. Can you now make a statement of the measures that you will wish
     to apply to determine your degree of success as a teacher? It will
     be worth your while to try to make a list of the immediate
     objectives you will seek for your class to attain in their personal
     lives. Keep this list and see whether it is modified by the
     chapters that lie ahead.


Harrison, A Study of Child Nature.

Moxcey, Girlhood and Character.

Dawson, The Child and His Religion.

Forbush, The Boy Problem.

Richardson (Editor), The American Home Series.

Richardson, Religious Education of Adolescents.



[1] The point of view and in some degree the outlines of this
and several following chapters have been adapted from the author's text
"Class-Room Method and Management," by permission of the publishers,
_The Bobbs-Merrill Co._, Indianapolis.

All good teaching rests on a fourfold foundation of principles. These
principles are the same from the kindergarten to the university, and
they apply equally to the teaching of religion in the church school or
subjects in the day school. Every teacher must answer four questions
growing out of these principles, or, failing to answer them, classify
himself with the unworthy and incompetent. These are the four supreme

     1. What definite _aims_ have I set as the goal of my teaching? What
     _outcomes_ do I seek?

     2. What _material_, or _subject matter_, will best accomplish these
     aims? What shall I stress and what shall I omit?

     3. How can this material best be _organized_, or arranged, to adapt
     it to the child in his learning? How shall I plan my material?

     4. What shall be my plan or _method of presentation_ of this
     material to make it achieve its purpose? What of my technique of


First of all, the teacher of religion must _have_ an aim; he must know
what ends he seeks to accomplish. Some statistically minded person has
computed that, with all the marvelous accuracy of aiming modern guns,
more than one thousand shots are fired for every man hit in battle. One
cannot but wonder how many shots would be required to hit a man if the
guns were not aimed at anything!

Is the analogy too strong? Is the teacher more likely than the gunner to
reach his objective without consciously aiming at it? And can the
teacher set up for attainment as definite aims as are offered the
gunner? Do we _know_ just what ends we seek in the religious training of
our children?

Life itself sets the aim.--This much at least is certain. We know
_where to look for_ the aims that must guide us. We shall not try to
formulate an aim for our teaching out of our own thought or reasoning
upon the subject. We shall rather look out upon life, the life the
child is now living and the later life he is to live, and ask: "_What
are the demands that life makes on the individual?_ What is the
equipment this child will need as he meets the problems and tests
of experience in the daily round of living? What qualities and
powers will he require that he may the most fully realize his own
potentialities and at the same time most fruitfully serve his
generation? What abilities must he have trained in order that he may
the most completely express God's plan for his life?" When we can answer
such questions as these we shall have defined the aim of religious
education and of our teaching.

The knowledge aim.--First of all, life demands _knowledge_. There are
things that we must know if we are to avoid dangers and pitfalls.
Knowledge shows the way, while ignorance shrouds the path in darkness.
To be without knowledge is to be as a ship without a rudder, left to
drift on the rocks and shoals. The religious life is intelligent; it
must grasp, understand, and know how to use many great truths. To supply
our children with _religious knowledge_ is, therefore, one of the chief
aims of our teaching.

Yet not all knowledge is of equal worth. Even religious knowledge is of
all degrees of fruitfulness. Some knowledge, once acquired, fails to
function. It has no point of contact with our lives. It does not deal
with matters we are meeting in the day's round of experience. It
therefore lies in the mind unused, or, because it is not used, it
quickly passes from the memory and is gone. Such knowledge as this is of
no real value. It is not worth the time and effort put upon its mastery;
and it crowds out other and more fruitful knowledge that might take its

To be a true end of education, knowledge must be of such nature that it
_can be put at work_. It must relate to actual needs and problems. It
must have immediate and vital points of contact with the child's common
experiences. The child must be able to see the relation of the truths he
learns to his own interests and activities. He must feel their value and
see their use in his work and in his play. This is as true of religious
knowledge as of knowledge of other kinds. The religious knowledge the
child needs, therefore, is a knowledge that _can at once be incorporated
in his life_. To supply the child with knowledge of this vital, fruitful
sort becomes, then, one great aim in the teaching of religion.

But knowledge alone is not enough. Indeed, knowledge is but the
beginning of religious education, whereas we have been in danger of
considering it the end. Many there are who _know_ the ways of life but
do not follow them. Many _know_ the paths of duty, but choose an easier
way. Many _know_ the road to service and achievement, but do not enter
thereon. If _to do_ were as easy as to know what to do, then all of us
would mount to greater heights.

The attitudes aim.--Life demands _goals_ set ahead for achievement. It
must have clearly defined the "worth whiles" which lead to endeavor.
Along with the knowledge that guides our steps must be the impulses that
drive to right action. Besides knowing what to do there must be inner
compelling forces that _get things done_. The chief source of our goals
and of the driving power within us is what, for want of a better term,
we may call our _attitudes_.

Prominent among our attitudes are the _interests, enthusiasms,
affections, ambitions, ideals, appreciations, loyalties, standards, and
attachments_ which predominate. These all have their roots set deep in
our emotions; they are the measure of life's values. They are the "worth
whiles" which give life its quality, and which define the goal for

Chesterton tells us that the most important thing about any man is the
_kind of philosophy he keeps_--that is to say, his _attitudes_. For it
is out of one's attitudes that his philosophy of life develops, and that
he settles upon the great aims to which he devotes himself. It is in
one's attitudes that we find the springs of action and the incentives to
endeavor. It is in attitudes that we find the forces that direct conduct
and lead to character.

To train the intellect and store the mind with knowledge without
developing a fund of right attitudes to shape the course of action is
therefore even fraught with danger. The men in positions of political
power who often misgovern cities or use public office as a means to
private gain do not act from lack of knowledge or in ignorance of civic
duty; their failure is one of ideals and loyalties; their attitude
toward social trust and service to their fellow men is wrong. The men
who use their power of wealth to oppress the poor and helpless, or
unfairly exploit the labor of others to their own selfish advantage do
not sin from lack of knowledge; their weakness lies in false standards
and unsocial attitudes. Men and women everywhere who depart from paths
of honor and rectitude fall more often from the lack of high ideals than
because they do not know the better way.

The goal and the motive power in all such cases comes from a false
philosophy of life; it is grounded in wrong attitudes. The education of
those who thus misconceive life has failed of one of its chief aims--_to
develop right attitudes_. Hence character is wanting.

The conduct, or application, aim.--The third and ultimate aim of
education has been implied in the first two; it is _conduct, right
living_. This is the final and sure test of the value of what we
teach--how does it find _expression in action_? Do our pupils think
differently, speak differently, act differently here and now because of
what we teach them? Are they stronger when they meet temptation from day
to day? Are they more sure to rise to the occasion when they confront
duty or opportunity? Are their lives more pure and free from sin? Do the
lessons we teach find expression in the home, in the school, and on the
playground? Is there a real outcome _in terms of daily living_?

These are all fair questions, for knowledge is without meaning except as
it becomes a guide to action. High ideals and beautiful enthusiasms
attain their end only when they have eventuated in worthy deeds. What
we _do_ because of our training is the final test of its value. Conduct,
performance, achievement are the ultimate measures of what our education
has been worth to us. By this test we must measure the effects of our

Summary of the threefold aim.--The _aim_ in teaching the child
religion is therefore definite, even if it is difficult to attain. This
aim may be stated in three great requirements which life itself puts
upon the child and every individual:

     1. _Fruitful knowledge_; knowledge of religious truths that can be
     set at work in the daily life of the child now and in the years
     that lie ahead.

     2. _Right attitudes_; the religious warmth, responsiveness,
     interests, ideals, loyalties, and enthusiasms which lead to action
     and to a true sense of what is most worth while.

     3. _Skill in living_; the power and will to use the religious
     knowledge and enthusiasms supplied by education in shaping the acts
     and conduct of the daily life.

True, we may state our aim in religious teaching in more general terms
than these, but the meaning will be the same. We may say that we would
lead the child to a knowledge of God as Friend and Father; that we seek
to bring him into a full, rich experience of spiritual union with the
divine; that we desire to ground his life in personal purity and free it
from sin; that we would spur him to a life crowned with deeds of
self-sacrifice and Christlike service; that we would make out of him a
true Christian. This is well and is a high ideal, but in the end it sums
up the results of the religious _knowledge, attitudes_, and _acts_ we
have already set forth as our aim. These are the parts of which the
other is the whole; they are the immediate and specific ends which lead
to the more distant and general. Let us, therefore, conceive our aim in
_both_ ways--the ideal Christian life as the final goal toward which we
are leading, and the knowledge, attitudes, and acts that make up
to-day's life as so many steps taken toward the goal.


After the aim the subject matter. When we would build some structure we
first get plan and purpose in mind; then we select the material that
shall go into it. It is so with education. Once we have set before us
the aim we would reach, our next question is, What shall be the means of
its attainment? When we have fixed upon the fruitful knowledge, the
right attitudes, and the lines of conduct and action which must result
from our teaching, we must then ask, What _means_ shall we select to
achieve these ends? What _material or subject matter_ shall we teach in
the church school?

The subject matter he presents is the instrumentality by which the
teacher must accomplish his aims for his class. Through this material he
must awaken thought, store the mind with vital truths, arouse new
interests, create ideals and lead the life to God. As the artist works
with brush and paint, with tool and clay, so the teacher must work with
truths and lesson materials.

Guiding principles.--Two great principles must guide in the selection
of subject matter for religious instruction:

     1. _The material must be suited to the aims we seek._

     2. _The material must be adapted to the child._

The tools and instruments the workman uses must be adapted to the
purpose sought. Ask the expert craftsman what kind of plane or chisel
you should buy for a piece of work you have in mind, and he will ask you
just what ends you seek, what uses you would put them to. Ask the
architect what materials you should have for the structure you would
build, and he will tell you that depends on the plan and purpose of your

The material must fit the aim.--What materials of religious truth
should the teacher bring to his class? The answer is that truths and
lessons must be suited to the aim we seek. Would we lead our children to
understand the Fatherhood of God and to love him for his tender care?
Then the lessons must contain this thought, and not be built on
irrelevant material. Would we lead youth to catch the thrill and
inspiration of noble lives, to pattern conduct after worthy deeds? Then
our lesson material must deal with the high and fine in character and
action, and not with trivial things of lesser value.

So also, if we would capture the interest of childhood for the church
school and bind its loyalty to the church, the subject matter we offer
and the lessons we teach in the house of God must contain the glow and
throb of life, and not be dry and barren. If we would awaken religious
feeling and link the emotions to God, we must not teach empty lessons,
meaningless dates, and musty facts that fail to reach the heart because
they have no inner meaning.

Small use to set high aims and then miss them for want of material
suited for their attainment. Small use to catalogue the fine qualities
of heart and mind we would train in our children and then fail of our
aim because we choose wrong tools with which to work. Not all facts
found in the Bible are of equal worth to children, nor are all religious
truths of equal value. Nothing should be taught _just because it is
true_, nor even because it is found in the Bible. The final question is
whether this lesson material is the best we can choose for the child
himself; whether it will give him the knowledge he can use, train the
attitudes he requires, and lead to the acts and conduct that should rule
his life.

The material must fit the child.--The subject matter we teach _must
also be fitted to the child_. It must be within his grasp and
understanding. We do not feed strong meat to babes. What may be the
grown person's meat may be to the child poison. It does no good to load
the mind with facts it cannot comprehend. There is no virtue in truths,
however significant and profound, if they are beyond the reach of the
child's experience. Matter which is not assimilated to the understanding
is soon forgotten; or if retained, but weighs upon the intellect and
dulls its edge for further learning.

There can be little doubt that we have quite constantly in most of our
Sunday schools forced upon the child no small amount of matter that is
beyond his mental grasp, and so far outside his daily experience that it
conveys little or no meaning. We have over-intellectualized the child's
religion. Jesus was "to the Greeks foolishness" because they had no
basis of experience upon which to understand his pure and unselfish
life. May not many of the facts, figures, dates, and events from an
ancient religion which we give young children likewise be to them but
foolishness! May not the lessons upon some of the deepest, finest and
most precious concepts in our religion, such as faith, atonement,
regeneration, repentance, the Trinity, be lost or worse than lost upon
our children because we force them upon unripe minds and hearts at an
age when they are not ready for them?

Let us then, _not forget the child_ when we teach religion! Let us not
assume that truths and lessons are an end in themselves. Let us
constantly ask, as we prepare our lessons, Will this material work as a
true leaven in the life? Will it take root and blossom into character,
fine thought, and worthy conduct? While our children dumbly ask for
living bread let us not give them dead stones and dry husks, which
cannot feed their souls! Let us adapt our subject matter to the child.

The use of stress and neglect.--That the lesson material printed in
the Sunday school booklets is not always well adapted to the children
every teacher knows. But there it is, and what can we do but teach it,
though it may sometimes miss the mark?

There is one remedy the wise and skillful teacher always has at his
command. By the use of _stress_ and _neglect_ the matter of the lesson
may be made to take quite different forms. The points that are too
difficult may be omitted or but little emphasized. The matter that best
fits the child may be stressed and its application made. Illustrations,
stories, and lessons from outside sources may be introduced to suit the
aim. Great truths may be restated in terms within childhood's
comprehension. The true teacher, like the craftsman, will select now
this tool, now that to meet his purpose. Regardless of what the printed
lesson offers, he will reject or use, supplement or replace with new
material as the needs of his class may demand. The true teacher will be
the master, and not the servant, of the subject matter he uses.


When the _content_ of the subject matter has been decided upon then
comes its _organization_. How shall we arrange and plan the material we
teach so as to give the children the easiest and most natural mode of
approach to its learning?

The great law here is that _the arrangement of subject matter must be
psychological_. This only means that we must always ask ourselves how
will the child most easily and naturally enter upon the learning of this
material? How can I organize it for the recitation so that it will most
strongly appeal to his interest? How can I arrange it so that it will be
most easily grasped and understood? How can I plan the lesson so that
its relation to immediate life and conduct will be most clear and its
application most surely made?

The psychological mode of approach.--I recently happened into a junior
Sunday school class where the lesson was on faith. The teacher evidently
did not know how to plan for a psychological mode of approach to this
difficult concept. He began by defining faith in Paul's phrase as "the
substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." He then
went to the dictionary definition, which shows the relation of faith to
belief. He discussed the relation of faith to works, as presented in the
writings of James. But all to no avail. The class was uninterested and
inattentive. The lesson did not take hold. The time was wasted and the
opportunity lost. I excused myself and went to another classroom.

Here they had the same topic. But the teacher had sought for and found a
starting point from which to explain the meaning of faith in terms that
the children could understand. The teacher's eye rested for a moment on
John; then: "John, when does your next birthday come?"

"The sixteenth of next month," replied John promptly.

"Going to get any presents, do you think?" asked the teacher.

"Yes, sir," answered John with conviction.

"What makes you think so?" inquired the teacher. "Not everybody does
receive birthday presents, you know."

"But I am sure I will," persisted John. "You see, I know my father and
mother. They have never yet let one of my birthdays pass without
remembering me, and I am sure they are not going to begin to forget me
now. They think too much of me."

"You seem to have a good deal of _faith_ in your father and mother,"
remarked the teacher.

"Well I guess I _have!_" was John's enthusiastic response.

And right at this point the way was wide open to show John and the class
the meaning of faith in a heavenly Father. The wise teacher had found a
_point of contact_ in John's faith in the love and care of his parents,
and it was but a step from this to the broader and deeper faith in God.

It is a law of human nature that we are all interested first of all in
what affects our own lives. Our attention turns most easily to what
relates to or grows out of our own experience. The _immediate and the
concrete_ are the natural and most effective starting points for our
thought. The distant and remote exert little appeal to our interest; it
is the near that counts. Especially do these rules hold for children.

Making sure of a point of contact.--All these facts point the way for
the teacher in the planning and organization of material for his class.
The point of departure must always be sought in some _immediate interest
or activity in the life of the child_, and not in some abstract truth or
far-away lesson, however precious these may be to the adult Christian.
And no lesson is ready for presentation until the way into the child's
interest and comprehension has been found. Many a lesson that might have
been full of rich spiritual meaning for the child has been lost to our
pupils because it was presented out of season, or because the vital
connection between the truth and the child's experience was not
discovered by the teacher.

This principle suggests that in the main children should not be taught
religious truths in terms which they cannot grasp, nor in such a way
that the application to their own lives is not clear. For example, the
vital truths contained in the church catechisms are not for children;
the statement of them is too abstract and difficult, and the meaning too
remote from the child's experience. Many of the same truths can be
presented to children in the form of stories or illustrations; other of
the truths may rest until the child becomes older before claiming his
attention. Bible verses and sentiments completely outside the child's
comprehension are not good material for memorizing. Lessons upon the
more difficult concepts and deeper problems of religion belong to the
adult age, and should not be forced upon children.

Our guiding principle, therefore, is to _keep close to the mind, heart,
and daily life of childhood._ Then _adapt the subject matter we teach to
the mind, interests, and needs of those we teach._ Definitions, rules,
abstract statements, general truths have little or no value with
children. It is the story, the concrete incident, the direct
application growing out of their own experiences that takes hold.


After the aim has been clearly conceived, and after the lesson material
has been wisely chosen and properly organized, there still remains the
most important part--that of "getting the lesson across" to the class.
Many a valuable lesson, full of helpfulness, has been lost to the pupils
because the teacher lacked the power to bring his class to the right
pitch for receiving and retaining impressions. Many a class period has
been wasted because the teacher failed to present the material of the
lesson so that it gripped interest and compelled attention.

Response a test of instruction.--The _first_ test of good instruction
is the _response of the class_. Are the children alert? Are they keen
for discussion, or for listening to stories told or applications made?
Do they think? Do they enjoy the lesson hour, and give themselves
happily and whole-heartedly to it? Is their conduct good, and their
attitude serious, reverent, and attentive? Are they all "in the game,"
or are there laggards, inattentive ones, and mischief-makers?

These questions are all crucial. For the first law of all learning is
_self-activity_. There is no possibility of teaching a child who is not
mentally awake. Only the active mind grasps, assimilates, remembers,
applies. The birth of new ideas, the reaching of convictions, the
arriving at decisions all come in moments of mental stress and tension.
Lethargy of thought and feeling is fatal to all classroom achievement.
Therefore, no matter how keenly alert the teacher's mind may be, no
matter how skillful his analysis of an important truth may be if his
class sit with flagging interest and lax attention.

Results a test of instruction.--The _second_ test of good instruction
is our skill in handling the material of the lesson, and _shaping the
trend of thought and discussion_. Are the children interested in the
right things? Are the central truths of the lesson being brought out and
applied? Is the discussion centered on topics set for our consideration,
or does it degenerate into aimless talk on matters of personal or local
interest which have no relation to the lesson? In short, does the
recitation period yield the _fruitful knowledge_ we had set as a goal
for this lesson? Does it stimulate the _attitudes_ and motives we had
meant to reach? Does it lead to the _applications_ in life and conduct
which were intended? _Does it get results?_

The four points of this lesson are of supreme importance in teaching
religion. The _aim_ must be clear, definite, and possible of attainment.
The _subject matter_ of instruction must be wisely selected as an
instrument for reaching the aim set forth. The _organization_ of this
material must adapt it to the mind and needs of the child. The
_presentation_ of the lesson material in the recitation must be such
that its full effect is brought to bear upon the mind and heart of those
we teach.

Each of these four points will be further elaborated in the chapters
which follow. In fact, the remainder of the text is chiefly a working
out and applying of these fundamental principles to the teaching of

     1. To what extent would you say you have been directing your
     teaching toward a definite aim? Just how does the problem of this
     chapter relate itself to the preceding chapter on the "Great

     2. Do you think the majority of those who have come up through the
     church school possess as full and definite a knowledge of the Bible
     and the fundamentals of religion as we have a right to expect? If
     not, where is the trouble and what the remedy?

     3. Have you been consciously emphasizing the creation of right
     attitudes as one of the chief outcomes of your teaching? Do you
     judge that you are as successful in the developing of religious
     attitudes as in imparting information? If not, can you find a

     4. To what extent do you think your instruction is actually
     carrying over into the immediate life and conduct of your class in
     their home, school, etc.? If not to so great an extent as you could
     wish, are you willing to make this one of the great aims of your
     teaching from this time on, seeking earnestly throughout this text
     and in other ways to learn how this may be done?

     5. Do you on the whole feel that the subject matter you are
     teaching your pupils is adapted to the aims you seek to reach in
     their lives? If not, how can you supplement and change to make it
     more effective? Have you a broad enough knowledge of such material
     yourself so that you can select material from other sources for

     6. To what extent do you definitely plan each lesson for the
     particular children you teach so as to make it most accessible to
     their interest and grasp? Do you plan each lesson to secure a
     psychological mode of approach? How do you know when you have a
     psychological approach?


Betts, Class-Room Method and Management, Part I.

Coe, A Social Theory of Religious Education, Part II.

DuBois, The Point of Contact in Teaching.



The child comes into the world devoid of all knowledge and
understanding. His mind, though at the beginning a blank, is a potential
seedbed in which we may plant what teachings we will. The babe born into
our home to-day can with equal ease be made into a Christian, a
Buddhist, or a Mohammedan. He brings with him the instinct to respond to
the appeal religion makes to his life, but the kind and quality of his
religion will depend largely on the religious atmosphere he breathes and
the religious ideas and concepts placed in his mind through instruction
and training.

What, then, shall we teach our children, in religion? If fruitful
knowledge is to be one of the chief aims of our teaching, _what_
knowledge shall we call fruitful? What are the great foundations on
which a Christian life must rest? Years ago Spencer wrote a brilliant
essay on _knowledge of most worth_ in the field of general education.
What knowledge is of most worth in the field of religious education? For
not all knowledge, as we have seen, is of equal value. Some religious
knowledge is fruitful because it _can be set at work_ to shape our
attitudes and guide our acts; other religious knowledge is relatively
fruitless because it _finds no point of contact_ with experience.

To answer our question we must therefore ask: "What knowledge will serve
to guide the child's foot-steps aright from day to day as he passes
through his childhood? What truths will even now, while he is still a
child, awaken his spiritual appreciation and touch the springs of his
emotional response to the heavenly Father? What religious concepts, once
developed, will lead the youth into a rich fullness of personal
experience and develop in him the will and capacity to serve others?
What religious knowledge will finally make most certain a life of
loyalty to the church and the great cause for which it stands?" When we
can answer these questions we shall then be able to say what knowledge
is of most worth in the religious training of our children.


The child must come to know about God, even as a little child. Long
before he can understand about _religion_, he can learn about a heavenly
Father. This does not imply that the child (or that we ourselves!) can
know God in any full or complete way. Indeed, a God who could be known
in his entirety by even the deepest and wisest finite mind would be no
God at all. Yet everyone must give some meaning to God. Everyone does
have some more or less definite idea, image, or mental picture of the
God he thinks about, prays to, and worships.

The child's idea of God develops gradually.--We need not be concerned
that God does not mean the same to the child with his mental limitations
that he means to us. Meaning comes only out of experience, and this will
grow. The great thing is that the child's fundamental concept of God
shall start right, that in so far as it goes it shall be essentially
true, and that it shall be clear and definite enough to guide his
actions. More than this we cannot ask for; less than this does not give
the child a God real enough to be a vital factor and an active force in
his life.

It is to be expected, then, that the child's earliest concepts of God
will be faulty and incomplete, and that in many points they will later
need correction. Probably most children first think of God as having
human form and attributes; the idea of spirit is beyond their grasp. God
is to them a kind of magnified and glorified Father after the type of
their earthly father. This need not concern us if we make sure that the
crude beginnings of the God-idea have no disturbing elements in them,
and that as the concept grows it moves in the right direction.

The harm from false concepts.--Mr. H.G. Wells[2] bitterly complains
against the wrong concept of God that was allowed to grow in his mind as
a child. These are his words: "He and his hell were the nightmare of my
childhood.... I thought of him as a fantastic monster perpetually
waiting to condemn and to strike me dead!... He was over me and about my
silliness and forgetfulness as the sky and sea would be about a child
drowning in mid-Atlantic." It was only as the child grew into youth, and
was able to discard this false idea of God that he came to feel right
toward him.

[2] God the Invisible King, p. 44.

The harm done a child by false and disturbing concepts of God is hard to
estimate. A small boy recently came home from Sunday school and confided
to his mother that he "didn't think it was fair for God to spy on a
fellow!" A sympathetic inquiry by the mother revealed the fact that the
impression brought from the lesson hour was of God keeping a lookout for
our wrongdoings and sins, and constantly making a record of them against
us, as an unsympathetic teacher might in school. The beneficent and
watchful oversight and care of God had not entered into the concept.

It is clear that with this wrong understanding of God's relation to him
the child's attitude and the response of his heart toward God could not
be right. The lesson hour which left so false an impression of God in
the child's mind did him lasting injury instead of good.

How wrong concepts may arise.--Pierre Loti tells in his reminiscences
of his own child-life how he went out into the back yard and threw
stones at God because it had rained and spoiled the picnic day. In his
teaching, God had been made responsible for the weather, and the boy had
come to look upon prayer as a means of getting what he wanted from God.
It took many years of experience to rid the child's mind of the last
vestiges of these false ideas. The writer recalls a troublesome idea of
God that inadvertently secured lodgment in his own mind through the
medium of a picture in his first geography. In the section on China was
the representation of a horrid, malignant looking idol underneath which
was printed the words, "A God." For many years the image of this picture
was associated with the thought of God, and made it hard to respond to
the concept of God's beauty, goodness, and kindness.

Wrong concepts of God may leave positive antagonisms which require years
to overcome. A little girl of nearly four years had just lost her
father. She did not understand the funeral and the flowers and the
burial. She came to her mother in the evening and asked where her papa
was. The stricken mother replied that "God had taken him."

"But when is he coming back?" asked the child.

The mother answered that he could not come back.

"Not ever?" persisted the child.

"Not ever," whispered the mother.

"Won't God let him?" asked the relentless questioner.

The heart-broken mother hesitated for a word of wisdom, but finally
answered, "No, God will not let him come back to us."

Care and wisdom needed.--And in that moment the harm was done. The
child had formed a wrong concept of God as one who would willfully take
away her father and not let him return. She burst out in a fit of
passion: "I don't like God! He takes my papa and keeps him away."

That night she refused to say her prayer, and for weeks remained
rebellious and unforgiving toward the God whom she accused of having
robbed her of her father. How should the mother have answered her
child's question? I cannot tell in just what words, but the words in
which we answer the child's questions must be chosen with such infinite
care and wisdom that bitterness shall not take the place which love
toward God should occupy in the heart.

Another typical difficulty is that children are often led to think of
God as a distant God. A favorite Sunday school hymn sings of "God above
the great blue sky." To many children God is "in heaven," and heaven is
localized at an immeasurable distance. Hence the fact of God's nearness
is wholly missed. Children come to think of God as seated on a great
white throne, an aged, austere, and severe Person, more an object of
fear than of love. And then we tell the children that they "must love
God," forgetting that love never comes from a sense of duty or
compulsion, but springs, when it appears, spontaneously from the heart
because it is compelled by lovable traits and appealing qualities in the
one to be loved!

The concept of God which the child needs.--The concept of God which
the child first needs, therefore, is God as loving Father, expecting
obedience and trust from his children; God as inviting Friend; God as
friendly Protector; God ever near at hand; God who can understand and
sympathize with children and enter into their joys and sorrows; God as
Creator, in the sunshine and the flowers; but above all, God filling the
heart with love and gladness. The concept which the child needs of Jesus
is of his surpassing goodness, his unselfish courage, and his loving
service. All religious teaching which will lead to such concepts as
these is grounding the child in knowledge that is rich and fruitful, for
it is making God and Christ _real_ to him. All teaching which leads to
false concepts is an obstacle in the way of spiritual development.


Gradually throughout his training the child should be forming a clear
concept of religion and the part it is to play in the life. This cannot
come through any formal definition, nor through any set of precepts. It
must be a growth, stimulated by instruction, guided by wise counsel,
given depth of meaning through the lives of strong men and women who
express the Christian ideal in their daily living.

Matthew Arnold tells us that religion is "morality lit up by emotion."
We turn to God for our inspiration, for the quickening of our motives,
for fellowship, communion and comfort; but it is when we face the duties
and relationships of the day's work and its play that we prove how close
we have been to God and what we have received from him. As there can be
no religion without God, neither can there be religion without morality;
that is, without righteous living.

Connecting religion with life.--One of the chief aims in teaching the
child religion should therefore be to ground him in the understanding
that _religion is life_. Probably no greater defect exists in our
religion to-day than our constant tendency to divorce it from life.
There are many persons who undertake to divide their lives up into
compartments, one for business, one for the relations of the home, one
for social matters, one for recreation and amusement, and _one for
religion_. They make the mistake of assuming that they can keep these
sections of the life separate and distinct from each other, forgetting
that life is a unity and that the quality of each of its aspects
inevitably colors and gives tone to all the rest.

The child should be saved the comfortable assumption so tragically
prevalent that religion is chiefly a matter for Sundays; that it
consists largely in belonging to the church and attending its services;
that it finds its complete and most effective expression in the
observance of certain rites and ceremonials; that we can serve God
without serving our fellow men; that creeds are more important than
deeds; that saying "Lord, Lord," can take the place of a ministry of

Religion defined in noble living.--There is only one way to save the
child from such crippling concepts as these: that is to hold up to him
the challenge of _life at its best and noblest_, to show him the effects
of _religion at work_. What are the qualities we most admire in others?
What are the secrets of the influence, power, and success of the great
men and women whose names rule the pages of history? What are the
attributes that will draw people to us as friends and followers and give
us power to lead them to better ways? What are the things that will
yield the most satisfaction, and that are most worth while to seek and
achieve as the outcome of our own lives? What is true success, and how
shall we know when we have achieved it? _Why does the Christ, living his
brief, modest, and uneventful life and dying an obscure and tragic
death, stand out as the supreme model and example for men to pattern
their lives by?_

These are questions that the child needs to have answered, not in formal
statements, of course, but in terms that will reach his understanding
and appreciation. These are truths that he needs to have lodged in his
mind, so that they may stir his imagination, fire his ambition, and
harden his will for endeavor. These are the goals that the child needs
to have set before him as the measure of success in life, the pathways
into which his feet should be directed.

The qualities religion puts into the life.--What, then, are the things
men live by? What are the great qualities which have ruled the finest
lives the world has known? How does religion express itself in the run
of the day's experience? What are some of the objective standards by
which religion is to be measured in our own lives or in the lives of
others, in the lives of children or in the lives of adults? What are the
characterizing features in the life and personality of Jesus? What did
he put first in practice as well as in precept?

_Joyousness._ No word was oftener on the lips of Jesus than the word
"joy," and the world has never seen such another apostle of joyousness.
The life that lacks joy is flat for him who lives it, and exerts little
appeal to others.

_Good will._ The good will of Jesus embraces all manner and conditions
of people. His magnanimity and generosity under all conditions were one
of the charms of his personality and one of the chief sources of his

_Service._ Jesus's life was, if possible, more wonderful than his death,
and nothing in his life was more wonderful than his passion for serving
others. The men and women whom the world has remembered and honored in
all generations and among all peoples are the men and women who found
their greatness in service.

_Loyalty._ Steadfastness to the cause he had espoused led Jesus to the
cross. Great characters do not ask what road is easy, but what way is
right. Where duty leads, the strong do not falter nor fail, cost what it
may. They see their task through to the end, though it mean that they

_Sympathy._ Jesus always understood. His heart had eyes to see another's
need. His love was as broad as the hunger of the human heart for
comradeship. We are never so much our best selves as when self is
forgotten, and we enter into the joys or the sorrows of one who needs

_Purity._ Sin has its price for all it gives us. We cannot stain our
souls and find them white again. We later reap whatever now we sow.
Jesus's life of righteousness, lived amid temptations such as we all
meet, is a challenge to every man who would be the captain of his own

_Sincerity._ No man ever doubted that Jesus meant what he said. No man
ever accused him of acting a part. His enemies, even, never found him
misrepresenting or speaking other than the truth. All truly fine
characters can be trusted for utter sincerity of word, of purpose, and
of deed.

_Courage._ Jesus was never more sublime than under conditions that test
men's courage. Did he face hostile mob and servile judge? did he find
himself misunderstood and deserted by those who had been his friends?
must he bid his disciples a last farewell? did he see the shadow of the
cross over his pathway?--yet he never faltered. His courage stood all

_Vision._ A distinguishing quality of the great is their power to put
first things first. Jesus possessed a fine sense of values. He willingly
sold all he had that he might buy the pearl of great price. His
temptations to follow after lesser values left him unscathed, and he
refused to command the stones to be made bread, or to do aught else that
would turn him from his mission.

_God-Consciousness._ Those who have most left their impress upon the
world and the hearts of men have not worked through their own power
alone. They have known how to link their lives to the infinite Source of
power; the way has been open between their lives and God. Jesus never
for a moment doubted that all the resources of God were at his command,
hence he had but to reach out and they were his.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is evident, as before stated, that this functional definition of
religion, this great program of living, cannot be thrust on the child
all at once--cannot be _thrust_ on him at all. But day after day and
year after year throughout the period of his training the conviction
should be taking shape in the child's mind that these are the _real_
things of life, the truest measure of successful living, the highest
goals for which men can strive. The definition of religion which he
forms from his instruction should be broad enough to include these
values and such others of similar kind as Christianity at its best


A knowledge of the essential parts of the _Bible_ is indispensable to
Christian culture. The Bible is the storehouse of spiritual wisdom of
the ages, the matchless textbook of religion. Great men and women of all
generations testify to its power as a source of inspiration and
guidance. To be ignorant of its fundamental spiritual truths is to lack
one of the chiefest instruments of religious growth and development. Not
to know its teachings is to miss the strongest and best foundation that
has ever been laid for fruitful and happy living. To lose a knowledge of
the Bible out of our lives is to deprive ourselves of the ethical and
religious help needed to redeem society and bring the individual to his
rightful destiny. Yet this generation is confronted by a widespread and
universal ignorance of the Bible, even among the adherents of the

Making the Bible useful to the child. The child cannot be taught all
of the Bible as a child. Indeed, parts of if dealing with the ideals and
practices of peoples and times whose primitive standards were far below
those of our own times are wholly unsuited to the mind of childhood, and
should be left until maturity has given the mental perspective by which
to interpret them. Other parts of the Bible prove dry and uninteresting
to children, and are of no immediate spiritual significance to them.
Still other parts, which later will be full of precious meaning, are
beyond the grasp or need of the child in his early years and should be
left for a later period. But with all these subtractions there still
remains a rich storehouse of biblical material suited for all ages from
earliest childhood to maturity. This material should be assembled and
arranged in a _children's Bible_. This abridged Bible should then be
made a part of the mental and spiritual possession of every child.

The knowledge of the Bible which will be of most worth to the child must
be a _functioning_ knowledge; a knowledge that can and will be put at
work in the child's thought, helping him form his judgments of right and
wrong and arrive at a true sense of moral values; a knowledge that stirs
the soul's response to the appeal God makes to the life; a knowledge
that daily serves as a guide to action amid the perplexities and
temptations that are met; a knowledge that lives and grows as the years
pass by, constantly revealing deeper meanings and more significant

The test of useful knowledge.--This is all to say that the knowledge
of the Bible given the child must in no sense be a merely formal
knowledge, a knowledge of so many curious or even interesting facts
separated from their vital meaning and application. It must not consist
of truths which for the most part _do not influence thought and action_.
Not how many facts are lodged in the mind, nor how many have passed
through the mind and been forgotten, but _how many truths are daily
being built into character_--this measures the value of the knowledge we
teach the child from the Bible.


The church represents religion organized. Because of our social impulses
we need to worship together in groups. Many religious activities, such
as education, evangelism, missionary enterprises, and reforms, can be
successfully carried out only by joint action; hence we have the church,
a _means of religious culture_, and the _instrument of religious
service_. Few there are who, outside the church, maintain their own
religious experience or carry the ministry of religious service to
others. A knowledge of the church is therefore an essential part of the
child's religious education.

What the child needs to know about the church.--This does not mean
that the child needs to know the technical and detailed history of the
Christian Church; this may come later. Nor does it mean that the child
needs to know the different theological controversies through which the
church has passed and the creeds that have resulted; this also may come
later. What the child needs first to know is that the church is the
instrument of religion, the home of religious people; that the Christian
Church began with the followers of Jesus, and that it has existed ever
since; that it has done and is doing much good in the world; that the
best and noblest men and women of each generation work with and through
the church; that the church is worthy of our deepest love and
appreciation, and that it should command our fullest loyalty and

Besides this rather general knowledge of the church, the child should
know the organization and workings of the present-day church. He should
come to know as much of its program, plans, and ideals as his age and
understanding will permit.

Even the younger children are able to understand and sympathize with the
missionary work of the church, both in home and in foreign lands.
Missionary instruction offers a valuable opportunity to quicken the
religious imagination and broaden the social interests. Lessons showing
the church at work in missionary fields should therefore be freely
brought to the child.

Knowledge of the church's achievements.--The part the church has taken
and is to-day taking in advancing the cause of education will appeal to
the child's admiration and respect. A knowledge of its philanthropies
will make a good foundation for the later loyalties to be developed
toward the church as an institution. The important influence of the
church in furthering moral reforms and social progress is well within
the appreciation of adolescents, and should be brought to their

Especially should children know the activities of their own local
church; they should learn of its different organizations and of the work
each is doing; they should know its financial program--where the money
comes from and the uses to which it is put; they should know its plans
ahead in so far as their participation can be used in carrying out its
activities. All these lines of information are necessary to the child in
order that his interest and loyalty may have an intelligent and enduring

Knowledge of one's own church.--The first knowledge of the church as
an institution given the child should be of the _church as a whole_, and
should have no denominational bias. We should first aim to make out of
our children _Christians_, and only later to make out of them
Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, or Congregationalists.

There comes a time, however, when the child should become informed
concerning his own particular church or denomination. He should learn of
its history, its achievements, its creeds, its plan of organization and
polity. This is not with the purpose of cultivating a narrow
sectarianism, but in the interests of a self-respecting intelligence
concerning the particular branch of the church which is one's spiritual
home. That the great mass of our people to-day possess any reasonable
fund of knowledge about the Christian Church or their own denomination
may well be doubted. This is a serious fault in religious education.


Not all of the child's religious impressions come through direct
instruction in the facts and precepts of religion. Religious feeling and
comprehension of the deeper meanings and values often best spring from
their expression in music and art.

Music essential to religion.--No other form of expression can take the
place of music in creating a spirit of reverence and devotion, or in
inspiring religious feeling. So closely is music interwoven with
religion that no small part of the world's greatest musical masterpieces
have a religious motive as their theme. Even among primitive peoples
music is an important feature of religious ceremonials. The Christian
Church has a large and growing body of inspiring hymnology.

The child needs to be led into a knowledge of religious music. He needs
this knowledge as a stimulus and a means of expression for his own
spiritual life. But he also needs it in order to take part in the
exercises of his church and its organizations. He needs it in order to
enjoy music and do his part in producing it in the home and the school.
This means that children should come to know the hymnology of the
church; they should know the words and the music of such worthy and
inspiring hymns as are adapted to their age and understanding. They
should finally, during the course of their development to adulthood,
learn to know and enjoy the great religious oratorios and other forms of
musical expression.

The place of art in religion.--Art, like music, owes much of its
finest form and development to religion. Religious hope, aspiration,
and devotion have always sought expression in pictorial or plastic art
and in noble architecture. We owe it to our children to put them in
possession of this rich spiritual heritage. They should know and love
the great masterpieces of painting dealing with religious themes. They
should not only have these as a part of their instruction in the church
school classes, but they should also have them in their homes and in
their schools, and see them in public art galleries and in other public
buildings suitable for their display.

Wherever possible the church building should in its architecture express
in a worthy way the religious ideals of its members. It should first of
all be adapted to the uses expected of it. It should be beautiful in
conception and execution, and should allow no unlovely or unworthy
elements to enter into its structure.

We should teach our children something of the wonder and beauty of
religious architecture as represented in the great cathedrals and
churches of all lands, and lead them to see in these creations the
desire and attempt of great souls to express their appreciation for
God's goodness to men.

     1. It will help you to understand the child's idea of God if you
     will think back to your own childhood and answer the following
     questions: Just who and what was God to you? Was he near by or far
     off? When you prayed, to what kind of a Being was the prayer
     addressed? Did Jesus seem more near and friendly to you than God?
     What were (or are) the most outstanding attributes of God's nature
     to you? Did you ever have any disturbing ideas about God?

     2. Now, suppose you attempt to answer these same questions about
     the children in your class. You will have to remember that the
     child may not be able to explain just what God seems to
     him--perhaps you can hardly do this yourself. Further, a child may
     often have some notion that what he feels is queer or would not be
     well received, and hence he will not fully express it to others.

     3. Just what does religion seem to you to be? Is it largely a way
     of living or a set of conventions and restraints? How did religion
     appeal to you in your childhood? Are you able to tell how the
     children of your class understand religion? What definite help are
     you giving them toward broadening and enriching their concept of
     religion? Are you leading them to see that religion is a way of
     living the day's life?

     4. To what extent do you feel that you really know the Bible? Could
     you give a sketch of twenty of its leading characters, describing
     the strengths and weaknesses of character of each? Could you
     describe the great biblical events, and draw the lessons they
     teach? Could you compare and characterize the Hebrew religion and
     the religion of Jesus? Are the pupils in your class going to be
     able from the work of the church school to answer favorably these
     and similar questions?

     5. We expect good citizens to know something of the history of
     their country and their commonwealth. Is it too much to ask members
     of the Christian Church to have the same information about the
     church? Could you pass a fair examination on the history and
     achievements of the church? Of your own particular church? Are the
     children of your church school growing in this knowledge? The
     children of your class?

     6. To what extent do the children of your class know the hymns of
     the church? Is care taken to give them such hymns as are suited to
     their age? Are worthy hymns taught them, or the silly rimes found
     in many church song books? (This does not mean that children should
     be taught music beyond their comprehension; there is much good
     music suited to different ages.) Are your children having an
     opportunity to know the great religious pictures? Religious
     architecture? (Here also the work must be adapted to the age.)


Coe, Education in Religion and Morals.

Brown, The Modern Man's Religion, chapter on "The Use of the Bible."

Fosdick, The Manhood of the Master.

Weld and Conant, Songs for Little People.

Bailey, The Gospel in Art.



Life never stands still; especially does the life of the child never
stand still. It is always advancing, changing, reconstructing. Starting
with an unripe brain, and with no fund of knowledge or expression, the
child in the first few years of his life makes astonishing progress. By
the time he is three years old he has learned to understand and speak a
difficult language. He knows the names and uses of hundreds of objects
about him. He has acquaintance with a considerable number of people, and
has learned to adapt himself to their ways. He has gained much
information about every phase of his environment which directly touches
his life--his mastery of knowledge has grown apace, without rest or

Nor does the development of what we have called _attitudes_ lag behind.
Parallel with growth in the child's knowledge, his interests are taking
root; his ideals are shaping; his standards are developing; his
enthusiasms are kindling; his loyalties are being grounded. These
changes go on whether we will or not--just because life and growth can
not be stopped. The great question that confronts teacher and parent is
whether through guidance, that is through education, we shall be able to
say _what_ attitudes shall arise and _what_ motives shall come to rule,
rather than to leave this all-important matter to chance or to influence
hostile to the child's welfare.

The teacher of religion, like all other teachers, must meet two
distinct though related problems in the cultivating of attitudes. These

     1. _The creation of an immediate or direct set of attitudes toward
     the school and its work._ This is needed to motivate effort and
     insure right impressions.

     2. _The development of a far-reaching set of attitudes that will
     carry out from the classroom into the present and future life of
     the pupil._ This is needed as a guide and stimulus to spiritual
     growth, and as a foundation for character.


The older view of education sought to drive the child to effort and
secure results through pain and compulsion. It was believed that the
pathway to learning must of necessity be dreary and strewn with
hardships, if, indeed, not freely watered with the tears of childhood.

Now we know better. A knowledge of child psychology and a more
sympathetic insight into child nature have shown us that instead of
external compulsion we must get hold of the inner springs of action. No
mind can exert its full power unless the driving force comes from
_within_. The capacities implanted in the child at his birth do not
reach full fruition except when freely and gladly used because their use
is a pleasure and satisfaction. If worthy results are to be secured, the
_whole self_ must be called into action under the stimulus of
willingness, desire, and complete assent of the inner self to the tasks
imposed. There must be no lagging, nor holding back, nor partial use of

Religious education is, therefore, not simply a question of getting our
children into the church schools. That is easy. Parents who themselves
do not attend feel that they have more fully done their duty by their
children if they send them to the Sunday school. After securing the
attendance of the children the great question still remains--that of the
_response_, their attitude toward the activities of the school, the
completeness with which they give themselves to its work.

A friend who is a State inspector of public schools tells me that the
first thing he looks for when he visits a school is the _school spirit_,
the attitude of the pupils toward their teachers and the work of the
school. If this is good, there is a foundation upon which to build
fruitful work; if the spirit is bad, there is no possibility that the
work of the school can be up to standard. For it is out of the
schoolroom spirit, the classroom attitudes, that the effort necessary to
growth and achievement must come.

The spirit of the classroom.--_Do the children enjoy the lesson hour?_
The first of the motivating conditions to seek for our classroom is a
prevailing attitude of happiness, good cheer, enjoyment. These are the
natural attributes and attitudes of childhood. Unhappiness is an
abnormal state for the child. The child's nature unfolds and his mind
expands normally only when in an atmosphere of sympathy, kindness, and
good feeling. Our pupils must enjoy what they are doing, if they are to
give themselves whole-heartedly to it. If loyalty to the school and the
church is to result, they must not feel that the Sunday school hour is a
drag and a bore. If such is the case, they cannot be expected to carry
away lasting impressions for good. They must not look upon attendance as
an imposition, nor wait with eager impatience for the closing gong.

While loyalty should be permeated by a sense of duty and obligation, and
even of self-sacrifice, it cannot rest on this alone. Most children and
youth are loyal to their homes; but this loyalty rests chiefly on a
sentiment formed from day to day and year to year out of the satisfying
experiences connected with the love, care, protection, and associations
of the home. Let these happy, satisfying home experiences be lacking,
and loyalty to the home fails or loses its fine quality.

In similar way, if the experiences in the Sunday school and the church
continuously yield satisfaction, enjoyment, and good feeling, the
child's loyalty and devotion are assured; if, on the other hand, these
experiences come to be associated with dislike, reluctance, and
aversion, loyalty is in danger of breaking under the strain.

The response of interest.--_Are the children interested?_ While, as we
have seen, the atmosphere or spirit of the classroom supplies the
condition necessary to successful work, interest supplies the motive
force. For interest is the mainspring of action. A child may politely
listen, or from a sense of courtesy or good will sit quietly passive and
not disturb others, but this does not meet the requirement. His thought,
interest, and enthusiasm must be centered on the matter in hand. He must
withdraw his attention from all wandering thoughts, passing fancies,
distracting surroundings, and concentrate upon the lesson itself. There
is no substitute for this. There is no possibility of making lasting
impressions on a mind with its energies dispersed through lack of
attention. And there is no possibility of securing fruitful attention
without interest.

Interest therefore becomes a primary consideration in our teaching of
religion. The teacher must constantly ask himself: "What is the state
of my pupils' interest? How completely am I commanding their enthusiasm?
Suppose I were to grade them on a scale with _complete-indifference_ as
the interest zero, and with the _'exploding-point'-of-enthusiasm_ as the
highest interest mark, where would the score mark of my class stand? And
if I cannot reasonably hope to keep my class at the high-water mark of
interest at all times, what shall I call an attainable standard? If one
hundred per cent is to represent the supreme achievement of interest,
shall I be satisfied with fifty per cent, with twenty-five per cent, or
with complete indifference? If the minds of my pupils can receive and
retain lasting impressions only under the stimulus of the higher range
of interest, in how far am I now making lasting impressions on my class?
In short, _is the interest attitude of my class as good as I can make

The sense of victory.--_Is there a feeling of confidence and mastery?_
Do the children _understand_ what they are asked to learn? Without this
the attitude toward the class hour cannot be good, for the mind is
always ill at ease when forced to work upon matter it cannot grasp nor
assimilate. Nor is it possible to secure full effort without a
reasonable degree of mastery. The feeling of confidence and assurance
that comes from successful achievement increases the amount of power
available. The victorious army or the winning football team is always
more formidable than the same organization when oppressed and
disheartened by continued defeat.

If the task is interesting, children do not ask that it shall be easy.
Once catch their enthusiasm and they will exert their powers to the
full, and take joy in the effort. But the effort must be accompanied by
a sense of victory and achievement. There must always be immediately
ahead the possibility of winning over the difficulties of their lessons.
Except in rare moments of emotional exaltation the most heroic of us are
not capable of hurling our best strength against obstacles upon whose
resistance we make no impression. And the child possesses almost none of
this quality. Without a measurable degree of success in what he attempts
to learn his _morale_ suffers, enthusiasm fails, and discouragement
creeps in to sap his powers.

Kept in the presence of mental tasks he cannot master nor understand,
the child will soon lose interest and anticipation in his work. Without
mastery intellectual defeat comes to be accepted and expected, and the
child forms the fatal habit of submission and giving up. Because he
expects defeat from the lesson before him, the learner is already
defeated; because he has not learned to look for victory in his study,
he will never find it.

Preventing the habit of defeat.--This is all to say that in teaching
the child religion we must not constantly confront him with matter that
is beyond his grasp and understanding. That we are doing this in some of
our lesson systems there can be no doubt. The result is seen in the
child's hazy and indefinite ideas about religion; in a later astonishing
lack of interest in the problems of religion on the part of adults; in
the child's unwillingness to undertake the study of his lessons for the
Sunday school; in the fact that to many children the Sunday school
lesson hour is a task and a bore; and in the fact that the Sunday school
does not in a large degree continue to hold the loyalty of its members
after they have reached the age of deciding for themselves whether they
will attend. _Fundamental to all successful classroom results with
children are enjoyment, interest, and mastery._ How these are to be
secured will be developed further as the text proceeds.


The great problem of every teacher is to make sure that the effects of
his instruction reach beyond the classroom. While the immediate
attitudes of the classroom are the first great care, they are but the
beginning. Growing out of the work of the church school must be a more
permanent set of attitudes that underlie life itself, give foundation to
character, and in large degree determine the trend and outcome of
achievement. _The cultivation of moral and religious attitudes is
probably the most important aim for the Sunday school._ As already
explained, the word "attitudes" is used to cover a considerable number
of qualities and attributes.

A continuing interest in the Bible and religion.--On the whole, people
do not concern themselves about what they are not interested in. They do
not read the books, study the pictures, go to hear the speakers, or busy
themselves with problems to which their interest does not directly and
immediately lead them. A fine sense of duty and obligation is all very
well, but it never can take the place of interest as a dynamic force in

The number of Bibles sold every year would lead one to suppose that our
people are great students of the Scriptures. Yet the almost universal
ignorance of the Bible proves that it is one thing to own a Bible, and
quite another thing to read it. We may buy the Bible because other
people own Bibles, because we believe in its principles, and because it
seems altogether desirable to have the Bible among our collection of
books. But the extent to which we _read_ the Bible depends on our
interest in it and the truths with which it deals.

Nor should we forget that, while the United States is rightly counted as
one of the great Christian nations, only about two out of five of our
people are members of Christian churches. It is true that this
proportion would be considerably increased if all churches admitted the
younger children to membership; but even making allowance for this fact,
it is evident that a great task still confronts the church in
interesting our own millions in religion in such a way that they shall
take part in its organized activities.

Let each teacher of religion therefore ask himself: "To what extent am I
grounding in my pupils a _permanent and continuing interest_ in the
Bible and in the Christian religion? Growing out of lessons I teach
these children are they coming to _like_ the Bible? will they want to
know more about it? will they turn to it naturally as a matter of course
because they have found it interesting and helpful? will they care
enough for it through the years to search for its deeper meanings and
for its hidden beauties? and because of this will they build the
strength and inspiration of the Bible increasingly into their lives?"

And, further: "Are my pupils developing a _growing_ interest in
religion? Do they increasingly find it attractive and inspiring, or is
religion to them chiefly a set of restraints and prohibitions? Do they
look upon religion as a means to a happier and fuller life, or as a
limitation and check upon life. Is religion being revealed to them as
the pearl of great price, or does it possess but little value in their
standard of what is worth while?" These questions are of supreme
significance, for in their right answers are the very issues of
spiritual life for those we teach.

Spiritual responsiveness.--The teacher must accept responsibility for
the spiritual growth as well as the intellectual training of his pupils.
There is no escape from this. We must be satisfied with nothing less
than a constantly increasing consciousness of God's presence and reality
in the lives of those we teach.

As the child's knowledge grows and his concept of God, develops, this
should naturally and inevitably lead to an increasing warmth of attitude
toward God and a tendency to turn to him constantly for guidance,
strength, comradeship, and forgiveness. Indeed, the cultivation of this
trend of the life toward God is the supreme aim in our religious
leadership of children. Without this result, whatever may have been the
facts learned or the knowledge gleaned, there has been no worthy
progress made in spiritual growth and development.

The evolution of spiritual responsiveness.--The realization of this
new spiritual consciousness in the child's life may not involve any
special nor abrupt upheaval. If the child is wisely led, and if he
develops normally in his religion, it almost certainly will not.
Countless thousands of those who are living lives very full of spiritual
values have come into the rich consciousness of divine relationship so
gradually that the separate steps cannot be distinguished. "First the
blade, then the ear, and then the full grain in the ear" is the natural
law of spiritual growth.

The bearing of this truth upon our teaching is that we must seek for the
unfolding of the child's spiritual nature and for the turning of his
thought and affections toward God from the first. We must not point to
some distant day ahead when the child will "accept Jesus" or become "a
child of God." We must ourselves think of the child, and lead the child
to think of himself, as a member of God's family.

This does not mean that the child, as he grows from childhood into youth
and adulthood, will not need to make a personal and definite decision to
give God and the Christ first place in his life; he will need to do this
not once, but many times. It only means that from his earliest years the
child is to be made to feel that he belongs to God, and should turn to
him as Father and Friend. Day by day and week by week the child should
be growing more vitally conscious of God's place in his life, and more
responsive to this relationship. Only by this steady and continuous
process of growth will the spiritual nature take on the depth and
quality which the Christian ideal sets for its attainment.

Ideals and ambitions.--In order that religion may be a helpful reality
to the child it must extend to his developing ideals and ambitions. For
even children have ideals and ambitions, however crude they may be, or
however much they may lack the serious and practical nature they later
take on. Probably no child reaches his teens without having many times
secretly determined that he would do this or become that, which he has
admired in some hero of his own choosing from actual acquaintance or
from books or stories. There is no normal child but who has his own
notions of greatness and importance, of success and fame, and who wishes
and longs for certain things ahead upon which he has set his heart, and
which he purposes to attain. The things that he thus values are his
ideals, goals to be reached. Ideals are, therefore, guides to action
and effort, something to be striven after and sacrificed for. They are
the things most worth while, for which we can afford to forego other
things of lesser value. It was the force of a great ideal which led Paul
to say, "This one thing I do"; and to the attainment of that ideal he
gave all his purpose and effort.

To form true ideals requires a trained sense of values; one must develop
a power of spiritual perspective, and be able to see things in their
true proportions. He must know what things rightly come first if he is
to "put first things first;" He must have some training in recognizing
the value of "pearls" if he is to see that it is a good exchange to
"sell all that he has" in order to "buy the pearl of great price."

This all suggests that one of the responsibilities resting upon us as
teachers of religion is to guide the child in the forming of his ideals.
We must help him form his notion of what is worthy and admirable in
character. We must see that he develops high standards of truth,
honesty, obedience, and the other moral virtues which lie at the
foundation of all vital religion. We must make certain that his ideals
of success and achievement include a large measure of service to his
fellows. We must ground him in right personal ideals and standards of
purity and clean living. We must make him feel a deep sense of
responsibility for the full development and fruitful use of his own
powers and abilities. In short, we must with all the wisdom and devotion
we possess _bring him to accept the life of Jesus as the ideal and
pattern for his own life_.

Fine appreciations.--What one admires is an index to his character.
More than this, the quality and tone of one's admirations finally build
themselves into his nature and become a part of his very being. Life is
infinitely enriched and refined by responding to the beauty, the
goodness, and the gladness to be found around us. In Hawthorne's story
of The Great Stone Face, the boy Ernest dwelt upon and admired the
character revealed in the benignant lines of the great face outlined by
the hand of the Creator on the mountainside until the fine qualities
which the young boy daily idealized had grown into his own life, and
Ernest himself had become the "wise man" whose coming had long been
awaited by his people.

It is not enough therefore to learn the _facts_ about the lives of the
great men and women of the Bible or of other times. The story of their
lives must be presented in such a way that _admiration_ is compelled
from the learner: for only the qualities the child appreciates and
admires are finally built into his own ideal. It is not enough that the
child shall be taught that God created the world and all that is
therein; he must also be brought to appreciate and admire the wonders
and beauties of nature as an evidence of God's wisdom, power, and
goodness. It is not enough that our pupils shall come to know the chief
events in the life of Jesus and the outline of his teachings; they must
also find themselves lost in admiration of the matchless qualities of
his great personality.

And so also with music, art, architecture, with the fine in human life
and conduct, or with great and noble deeds. Inherent in them all are
spiritual stimulus and food for the young life, manna upon which the
growing soul should feed. But here again the law holds: in order to
assimilate them to his life the child _must appreciate, enjoy, admire_.
To bring this about is one part of our task as teacher.

Worthy loyalties and devotions.--Every worthy character must have in
it a certain power of resistance, a quality that makes it able to
withstand hardship for the sake of an ideal or a cause. It is easy
enough to be heroic when it costs nothing of effort or sacrifice. There
is no trouble in securing supporters for a cause that is popular, or
workers when the work called for is interesting and attractive. We are
all willing to stand for the right if to stand is agreeable and
exhilarating, and does not bring us too much of unpleasantness, pain, or

But life at its best and noblest does involve some hardship. Much that
is best in human experience has come to us through hardship, toil, and
suffering cheerfully endured by heroic souls who counted their own lives
as naught so that the cause to which they gave themselves might win. The
comforts, freedom, and opportunities we enjoy some one paid for, bought
with endless effort and sacrifice. Our very religion, the symbol of
life, gladness, and salvation, has as its background tragedy, suffering,
death, the cross.

The quality that makes us willing to endure and resist for the sake of a
cause or an ideal we call _loyalty_. The high value set upon it is seen
in the fact that loyalty is the first test of citizenship required; it
is a quality admired and praised among all peoples in all relations of
life; it is the quality we demand and prize in our friends and
associates. On the other hand, disloyalty to country, friends, or trust
is universally looked upon as despicable, and punished with contempt,
scorn, and hatred.

The appeal to the heroic.--One of the ends of religious teaching is to
cultivate in our youth the spirit of loyalty to worthy ideals and
causes. Loyalty rests on a stratum of heroism, which is to be found
deep down in every normal human being. We must stimulate and appeal to
the heroic in the child's nature. We must make him see that the strong
and fine men and women are willing to meet much that is hard and
disagreeable, so that they may be loyal to their task. We must make him
realize that the greatest and most worthy thing one can do is to "endure
hardship" for a cause; that to be willing to suffer for an ideal is a
mark of strength and courage; and that "having done all to _stand_" is
often the best test of character.

Nor must the thought of loyalty be presented to the child only in the
abstract. Concrete examples are worth much general explanation and
laudation. The loyalties of the great characters of biblical and other
times can be made the source of great inspiration; the supreme loyalty
of Jesus to his mission will exert a powerful appeal. But loyalty must
be made immediate, definite and concrete to the child in his own life;
he must not simply admire it afar off. Loyalty must be to him not
something to learn about and praise in others, but something he can make
use of himself each day without waiting to grow up or become famous. So
we will teach the child the loyalties due parents and the home;
loyalties to friends and comrades; loyalties to school, community, and
country; loyalties to Sunday school, church, and the cause of religion;
loyalties to self; loyalties to duty wherever found; and, above all,
_loyalties to the Christ and his ideals_.

     1. Do your pupils enjoy the church school, and like to come? Do
     they enjoy the lesson hour? By what means do you tell? Is the
     spirit of the class good toward the school and toward the class?
     How do you judge this?

     2. Do your pupils come to the lesson hour full of expectancy? Or
     is there an indifference and lack of interest with which you have
     to contend? If the class fails in some degree to manifest
     expectancy and interest, where do you judge the trouble to lie?
     What is the remedy?

     3. To what degree do you think your pupils are comprehending and
     mastering what you are teaching them? How does their mastery
     compare with that secured in the public schools? Have you plans for
     making their mastery more complete?

     4. Do you judge that your pupils are developing such an attitude
     toward the Bible that their interest will carry on beyond the time
     they are in your class? Do you think they have an increasing
     interest in religion? Are you making these questions one of the
     problems of your teaching?

     5. Are your pupils developing through the work you are doing a
     growing consciousness of God in their lives? Do they count
     themselves as children of God? Just what do you believe is the
     status of your children spiritually? Do they need conservation or
     conversion? What difference will your answer make in your teaching?

     6. To what degree are your pupils loyal to the church school? To
     their particular class? To the church? What are the tests of
     loyalty? Do they come regularly? Do they seek to promote the
     interests of the class and the school? Do they do their part? What
     can be done to increase loyalty?


Wilber, A Child's Religion.

Bushnell, Christian Nurture (Revised Ed.).

Betts, The Mind and Its Education, chapter on "Interest."

Fisk, Boy Life and Self-Government.



We have now come to the third of the great trio of aims in religious
education--_right living_. This, of course, is _the_ aim to which the
gathering of religious knowledge and the setting up of religious
attitudes are but secondary; or, rather, fruitful religious knowledge,
and right religious attitudes are the _means_ by which to lead to skill
in right living as the _end_.

In the last analysis the child does not come to us that he may learn
this or that set of facts, nor that he may develop such and such a group
of feelings, but that through these he may live better. The final test
of our teaching, therefore, is just this: Because of our instruction,
does the child _live_ differently here and now, as a child, in all his
multiform relations in the home, the school, the church, the community,
and in his own personal life? Are the lessons we teach translated
continuously into better conduct, finer acts, and stronger character as
shown in the daily run of the learner's experience?

It is true that the full fruits of our teaching and of the child's
learning must wait for time and experience to bring the individual to
fuller development. But it is also true that it is impossible for the
child to lay up a store of unused knowledge and have it remain against a
later time of need in a distant future. The only knowledge that forms a
vital part of our equipment is knowledge that is in active service,
guiding our thought and decisions from day to day. Unused knowledge
quickly vanishes away, leaving little more permanent impression on the
life than that left on the wave when we plunge our hand into the water
and take it out again. In similar way the interests, ideals, and
emotions which are aroused without at the same time affording a natural
outlet for expression in deeds and conduct soon fade away without having
fulfilled the purpose for which they exist. The great thing in religious
education is to find _immediate and natural outlet in expression_, a way
for the child to _use_ what he learns; to get the child to _do_ those
things pointed out by the lessons we teach him.

Religion drawing closer to life.--This is the only method of religious
education that will meet the requirements of these times upon the
Christian religion. The unmistakable trend of modern Christianity is to
connect religion more closely and vitally with life itself--to make it a
_mode of living_ in a deeper sense than has obtained since the days of
Christ upon earth. This is a very hopeful sign, for it accords
completely with the spirit and message of Jesus. When he said, "By their
fruit ye shall know them," what did he mean but that the quality and
value of a man's religion is to be known by its outcome in, deeds and
action? When he said, "Not everyone that saith. Lord! Lord! but he that
doeth..."; and again, "He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth
them...," was he not again emphasizing the great; truth that one's
religion is tested only by the extent to which it is tied up with his
daily living?

The teacher will, therefore, say to himself, The religious knowledge I
am putting into the minds of my pupils is of supreme importance--if it
makes them live better and act more nobly; the religious attitudes and
emotions I am cultivating in my class are full of value and
significance--_if_ they cause their possessors to live more broadly,
sympathetically, usefully, and happily. The true teacher will then add,
And it is my task _to see that this result follows without fail!_


Indirectly all this is to say that our first care in teaching the young
child religion should be to lead him to form _religious habits_. For our
lives are controlled by a great network of habits which come to us as
the result of acts often repeated, until they have become as second
nature. There are many things about the child's religion that should
become second nature; that is, should become habit--and which are not
certain and secure until they have grown into habits. For example, it is
wholly desirable to have the habit of attending church, of personal
devotions, and of resisting temptation, so well fixed that the acts
required for each take care of themselves with a minimum of struggle and
decision each time the occasion arises. Not only will this method
require less strain and compulsion on our part, but it will result in
more uniform churchgoing, attention to devotions, and the overcoming of

The age for habit forming.--The principle, then, is simple and clear.
At the beginning of the child's contact with the church school he cannot
grasp the broader and deeper meanings of religion; but he can during
this period be led into the doing of right acts and deeds, and thus have
his religious habits started. At a time when his brain is yet unripe,
and hence unready for the more difficult truths or the more exalted
emotions of religion, the child is at his best in the matter of
habit-forming. For habits grounded in early childhood are more easily
formed and more deeply imbedded than those acquired at any later time,
and they exert a stronger control over the life.

How habits grow.--But habits do not come of their own accord; they
must be gradually acquired. Immediately back of every habit lies a chain
of acts out of which the habit grows. Given the acts, and the habit is
as sure to follow as night the day. Hence the great thing in religious
instruction of the young is to afford opportunity for our teaching to be
carried as immediately as may be over into deeds.

As we make the desired impressions upon the minds of our pupils, we must
see that the way is reasonably open for _expression_. The lessons should
be so direct, simple, and clear that there is no difficulty in
connecting them immediately with the daily life, and then we should do
our best to see _that the connection is made_.

As we teach we should have in mind the week that lies ahead in the
child's life--in the home, the school, on the playground, in the
community, and in whatever personal situations and problems we may know
are being met. Then we should use every power as a teacher to make sure
that we help the child meet the challenge of his daily life with the
finest acts, best deeds, and noblest conduct possible for him to


One great purpose, then, in religious instruction is to attach the
stimulus and appeal of religion to the common round of daily life and
experience of the child. As Christ came that we might have life, not a
future life alone, but a full, happy, and worthy life in the present as
well, so we come to the child as a teacher to help him in his _life_
here and now. Our task at this point is to lead him to practice the
great fundamental virtues whose value has been proved through ages of
human experience, to incorporate directly into his living the lessons
learned slowly and with great sacrifice by generations which have
preceded him. Our aim will be to lead our pupils, out of their own
choice and conviction, to adopt and follow a _code of action_ such as
the following:

_I will respect and care for my body._ I will keep my body clean and
pure. I will try to avoid sickness and disease. I will breathe good air
day and night, and live out of doors all I can. Because I shall need all
my strength and endurance at their best, I will pay no toll to the
poisons of alcohol and nicotine. I will be temperate in my food, and eat
such foods as will favor growth, health, and strength. I will bathe
often, play and work hard, and get plenty of sleep and rest. My
character will be judged by my poise and carriage; therefore I will try
to walk, stand, and sit well, and not allow my manner to show
slouchiness and carelessness. Both because of my own self-respect and
because I owe it to others, I will strive to make myself neat and
attractive in dress and person. I will treat my body right so far as I
can know what is best for it, and will do nothing to defile or injure
any part of it. I will try to keep my body a fit dwelling place for my
soul, for God gave them both to me. And I will do all I can to make my
home, school, and community a beautiful and healthful place for others
to live.

_I will keep good-natured, cheerful, and responsive._ Tasks grow easier
and loads lighter when one is cheerful. I will therefore guard against
gloomy and sullen moods, which not only make me unhappy, but cause
unhappiness to those about me. I will watch that I may not be cross and
irritable at home, and shall do my part to make home the bright and
happy place I wish it to be. I will be careful not to grumble nor whine
when things go wrong, or when I cannot have my own way. I will remember
that troubles flee when we refuse to think about them. I will refuse to
give way to ill temper, for I would not become its slave; rather will I
learn to laugh at small troubles and annoyances that cannot be cured. If
I am feeling sad or unhappy, I will stop to speak a kind word or do a
fine deed, and the gloom will disappear.

_I will take pride in work and thrift._ The world has no place for the
one who shirks. Some one toiled for every comfort I enjoy; some one
worked for the clothing, shelter, food, and all the other good things
that come to me. I must do my part, work, help others, and especially
help in the home. I will not slight my tasks, but say; "I can!" and go
at my work with a will. What though the task be hard--if it is mine,
I'll do it! What though the lesson be long--if it is to be learned, I'll
master it! If I can stand at the head of my class, I will, but only when
I have earned the right by honest effort. Because the world contains so
many who must go hungry for want of food, and who lack other necessities
and comforts, I will not needlessly spend nor waste anything of value. I
will take pride in thrift and saving, and do all I can to encourage this
spirit in others. I will respect and honor all worthy toil. I will thank
the good God every day that he allows me to take part in the work round
about me, and ask him to help me to do my share well in each seen or
unseen part of every task.

_I will be honest and speak the truth._ Only one who is honest is worthy
of trust, and he who tells a lie confesses that he is a coward and
afraid to let the truth be known. I will be honest even in little
things, and will have no "white lies." Though it may seem a trifle to
cheat in school or not play fair in a game, I will be above all trickery
and deceit. Both in play and in work my fight must be clean and fair; I
shall ask but for an even chance. I will give full value for whatever I
receive; if I work for wages, I must make sure to earn them; if I secure
honors or grades at school, I must win them. I will let alone all games
of chance, for gambling takes what one has not earned, and is therefore

_I will be obedient to the rules of my home and school and to the laws
of my country._ The rules of home and school and the laws of state and
nation are made for the good of all; and wherever freedom rules there
laws must be obeyed. I will not quibble nor seek to evade, but give
prompt and cheerful obedience wherever my duty is to obey. I will honor
the law and respect those in authority over me. I will not be one of
those who must needs be watched, and narrowly held to right paths. I
will obey not because of fear or compulsion, but gladly, because I
choose to do the right. I will not tempt others to disobedience, nor to
the violation of the law. I will be a loyal member of my home and school
and a patriotic citizen of my country, doing all in my power to advance
their welfare and interests.

_I will be courteous and kind._ The men and women whom people love and
admire are courteous and kind. The strong and the brave are never cruel,
they do not willingly injure others nor hurt their feelings. I will
strive each day to be courteous at home, kind to those who are nearest
to me, and helpful to my friends and companions. I will not knowingly
cause pain or suffering to any person. I will extend my protection and
kindness to all animals and every dumb and helpless thing, remembering
that pain is pain wherever felt, in a worm as well as in a man.
Especially will I show my best courtesy to aged and infirm persons, and
to all such as may need help. It will be my high privilege to render
service to any who are unfortunate, crippled, or in distress, I will do
unto others what I would have them do unto me.

_I will show courage and self-control._ I should not want to be a
coward, for cowardice always brings pity and contempt. I know that all
must at times meet pain and suffering; and when the time comes to me I
must not lose my courage and self-control; I will not shrink nor cringe,
but find strength in remembering that many have suffered and endured
without complaint. I will avoid danger and unnecessary risk whenever
possible, but if accident or duty puts me in a place of danger, I must
try to keep a cool head and to show my mettle by doing my full duty
bravely. When sometimes things go wrong, and I cannot have my own way, I
shall show my courage and self-command by keeping my temper and tongue
under control; I will be a good sportsman and not complain, nag, nor
find fault. I will make it a rule, if I feel my anger rising, to think
twice before I speak or act. If I have wronged or offended anyone, I
will be strong enough to go and make it right, confessing my fault. When
I am tempted to think or do or say what I know to be wrong, I will ask
my heavenly Father for strength to overcome the temptation. It will be
my constant purpose and care to keep myself pure in thought, word, and

_I will be dependable and do my duty._ The world needs men and women on
whom it can depend, and who are not afraid to do their duty at whatever
cost. I must learn to face hardship and to meet the disagreeable without
giving way before it. I must not ask what road is easy, but what way is
right--and then do my duty. When I know I _ought_ I must be able to say
_I will_, even if the choice brings me pain and trouble. If I have
undertaken any trust or task, I must not lag nor weaken nor grow
careless, but faithfully see it through to the end. When my country
calls, or the world needs my services, I must not consult my own wishes
or convenience, but unfalteringly follow where duty leads. Whenever I
can with justice and self-respect, I will avoid a quarrel; but I will
not sit idly by and see injustice and oppression brought on the weak and
helpless if I can prevent.

_I will love and enjoy nature._ The birds, the flowers, the trees and
the brooks make the best of friends. I will study the great book of
nature around me, and seek to learn the secrets of its many forms. I
will live as much as I can in the great out-of-doors, finding in its
beauty and freshness new evidences of God's wisdom and goodness. I will
never injure nor destroy, but do all I can to protect the beautiful
living and growing things about me. I will find joy in the storm, the
rain, and the snow, and then no day will seem dreary or dull to me. I
will seek for some good purpose in all harmless created things, making
comrades of my animal playmates, and taking an interest in all such
things as creep or crawl or fly; and need then never be lonely nor lack
good company. I will look upon the glory of the sunset, the wonder of a
starlit night, the sparkle of the dew, and then reverently thank God
that he has made the great world so beautiful and good.

_I will each day turn to my heavenly Father for help, strength, and
forgiveness._ I know I cannot live my life as I should live it without
God's help and counsel. I will therefore turn to him in prayer that he
will guide me when I am puzzled or uncertain, that he will give me
victory when I am tempted to do wrong, that he will give me courage when
I falter or am afraid, that he will forgive me when I have sinned or
failed in my duty. I will take for my standard of life and action the
example of Jesus, and show my love and appreciation by living as fully
as I can the kind of life he lived. I know that I cannot have God's
presence in my life unless I keep my heart pure and my conduct right; I
will therefore, with his help, as nearly as I can, live from day to day
as I think God would have me live, I will take time morning and evening
of each day for a few moments of prayer, quiet thought, and for the
study of the Bible. I will do my best to be a worthy Christian.

       *       *       *       *       *

The teacher, of course, will need to adapt the application of such
principles as those we have been discussing to the age and the needs of
his pupils. Such lessons cannot be presented as so much abstract truth.
The purpose, as we have already seen, is to lead the child to make such
high ideals his habit of life and action, so that at last they may
govern his conduct and become an inseparable part of his character. To
do this, such ideals must be made desirable and attainable.


The forming of religious social habits is as important as the forming of
religious personal habits. From his earliest years the child should come
to look on his church, his Sunday school, and the class to which he
belongs as a responsibility in which he has a personal share. His
experience in connection with these organizations should be so
interesting and satisfying that his attendance does not have to be
compelled, but so that his loyalty, affection, and pride naturally lead
him to them.

When this is accomplished, the basis of good attendance is secured, and
the foundation laid for later participation in all forms of church work.
Once the right spirit is created and right habits developed, unpleasant
weather, bad roads or streets, getting up late on Sunday mornings, nor
any other obstacles will stand in the way of regular church and Sunday
school attendance any more than of day-school attendance. And until the
church has its children (and their homes) so trained that attendance on
the church school is regular throughout the year, our instruction must
of necessity fail to reach its full aim.

Learning to take responsibility for others.--One of the greatest
lessons a child can learn from his lessons in religion is that he is his
brother's keeper. The instincts of childhood are naturally selfish and
self-centered; the sense of responsibility for others must be gradually
trained and developed. A double purpose can therefore be served by
enlisting the children of our classes as recruiting officers to secure
new members, and to look up any who may have dropped out or whose
attendance is irregular. The sense of pride and emulation in such work,
and the feeling on the part of our pupils that they are actually
accomplishing something definite for their class or school will do much
to cement loyalty and train the children to assume responsibility for
their comrades.

This _pride of the group_ is a strong force during later childhood and
adolescence, and can be fruitfully used in religious training. The boy
or the girl Scout takes great pride in doing acts of kindness and
service without personal reward, just _because that is one of the things
that scouting stands for_. "Scouts are expected to do this," or "Scouts
are not expected to do that," has all the force of law to the loyal

The Sunday school class can command the same spirit if the proper appeal
is made. In its neighborhood work and on many special occasions the
church and the Sunday school will have need of messenger service.
Errands will have to be run, articles will have to be gathered and
distributed, calls will have to be made, funds will have to be
collected, and a hundred other things done which children can do as well
or better than anyone else. And it is precisely in these practical acts
of homely service that the child gets his best training in the social
side of religion.

Laboratory work in religion.--The wise teacher will therefore seize
upon every opportunity to find something worth while for his pupils _to
do_. He will have them help with the distribution of supplies in the
classroom; he will see that they volunteer to help the super-intendent
or other officials who may need assistance; he will give them
responsibility in decorating the church or classroom for special
occasions; he will leave to their cooperation as large a measure as
possible of the work to be done in arranging and carrying out class or
school picnics, excursions, social gatherings, and the like; he will
arrange for special groups to visit the aged, sick, or shut-in for the
purpose of singing gospel songs, and will open the way for those who are
qualified to do so to read the Bible or other matter to the blind or
those whose sight is failing. In short, the devoted teacher who
understands the laws of childhood will make his instruction as nearly as
possible a _laboratory course_ in religion, finding the material and the
occasion in the human needs and the opportunities for loving service
which lie closest at hand.

Assuming personal responsibility.--The sense of the child's
responsibility for his class and school must also carry into the
exercise of the school itself. The boy should be led to prepare his
lesson because of the truth it contains; but also because a recitation
cannot be a success unless the pupils know their lesson and do their
part. He should pay his share toward the running of the school and
church because it is our duty to give, but also because he feels a
personal responsibility for his church and his class. He should take
part in public prayer or the leadership of meetings, when asked to do,
because it is right and proper to do these things, but also because he
realizes that each member of the class and school owes it to the
organization to do his share.

Nothing can take the place of whole-hearted, joyous participation in the
real activities of the Sunday school as a means of catching the interest
of the members and securing their loyalty; for interest and loyalty
finally attach to those activities in which we have a share. The school
in which the child finds a chance to _express_ the lessons and _put into
practice_ the maxims he is taught is the school which is building
Christian character and providing for future religious leadership.

Participation in singing.--Especially should we develop in our
children the ability and will to engage in religious singing. Almost
every child can sing, and all children respond to the appeal of music
adapted to their understanding. The most expert and inspiring leadership
which the church can command should be placed in charge of the
children's singing in the Sunday school.

If it comes to the question of selecting between a director for the
adult choir and a soloist for the general congregation on the one hand,
or an efficient organizer and director of children's music on the other
hand, there should not be a moment's hesitation on the part of any
church to supply the needs of the children first. The aim should then be
to have _all_ the children sing, and allow none to form the habit of
depending on the older members or on a few leaders to supply the singing
for the entire school. Those who possess special ability in music should
be formed into choruses, orchestras, school bands, or similar
organizations. Not only will all this add to the interest and
effectiveness of the school itself, but, not less important, will be
helping to _form the music habit_ in connection with sacred music.

Training in giving.--The missionary enterprises of the church afford
one of the best opportunities for giving the child practical training in
the social aspect of religion. It is not enough that the children shall
be told the stories of the missionary heroes and given the picture of
the needs of the people in far-away lands. Once the imagination is
stirred and the emotions wanned by this instruction, an immediate and
natural outlet in expression must be found if these lessons are to
fulfill their end.

Children should early be led into giving money for missionary purposes,
and this as far as possible should be their _own_ money which they
themselves have earned. For the child to go to his father on a Sunday
morning for money for the missionary collection does not answer the need
on the educational side; it is the child's real _sharing_ that leaves
the impression and teaches the lesson.

There is also real educational value in leading children to give
clothing, food, or other necessities for the use of the needy. Here,
again, the giving should involve something of real sacrifice and
sharing, and not consist merely in giving away that for which the child
himself no longer cares. The joint giving by a class or the entire
school for the support of a missionary worker whose name is known, and a
somewhat detailed report of whose work is received, lends immediateness
and reality to the participation of the pupils. A strong appeal can be
made to the spirit of giving by the adoption by the class of some needy
boy or girl whose Christian education is provided for by the efforts of
the class, and to whom personal letters can be written and from whom
replies may be received.

Social service.--The children of our Sunday schools should be given an
active and prominent part in all forms of community welfare service. The
successful enlistment of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts in many
valuable forms of community enterprises contains a vital suggestion and
lesson for the church school. Wherever good deeds need to be done,
wherever help needs to be rendered, wherever kindness and service are
necessary, there the children should be called upon to do their part.
If the tasks and responsibilities are suited to the various ages, there
will be no trouble about securing response. Nor, on the other hand, will
there be any doubt but that the lessons learned will be entirely vital
and will serve to connect the religious motive with everyday life and
its activities.

Religion finding expression in the home.--No system or method of
religious instruction is effective the results of which do not find
expression in the life of the home. It is here in the intimate relations
of children with each other and with their parents that the moral and
religious lessons of forbearance, good will, and mutual service find
most frequent and vital opportunity for application.

Children need early to be made to see their individual and joint
responsibility for the happiness, cheerfulness, good nature, and general
social tone of their home; and to help at these points should become a
part of their religion. They should be stimulated to share in the care
of the home, and not to shirk their part of its work. They should be
interested in the home's finances, and come to feel a personal
responsibility for saving or earning as the situation may require. They
should have a definite part in the hospitality which the home extends to
its friends and neighbors, and come by experience to sense the true
meaning of the word "neighborliness."

The appearance and attractiveness of their home should be a matter of
pride with children, and this feeling should cause them to be careful in
their own habits of neatness, cleanliness, and order about the home. All
these things have a bearing on the foundations of character and are
therefore a legitimate concern in religious instruction.

The final tests of our instruction.--In such things as we have been
discussing, then, we find one of the surest tests of the outcome of our
teaching the child religion--_Are the lessons carrying over_? Is the
child, because of our contact with him, growing in attractiveness and
strength of personality and character? Is he developing a habit of
prayer, devotion, spiritual turning to God? Is he doing a reasonable
amount of reading and study of the Bible and the lesson material of the
school? Is he taking such personal part in the various social and
religious activities of the church and the community that he is "getting
his hand in," and developing the attachments and loyalties which can
come only through participation? In short, is the child given a chance
to apply, and does he daily put into practice and thus into character,
the content and spirit of what we teach him?

_The answers we must return to these questions will measure our success
as teachers and determine the value coming to the child from our

     1. To what extent do you believe your pupils are living differently
     in their daily lives for the instruction you are giving them? Do
     you definitely plan your teaching to accomplish this aim? For
     example, what _definite_ results are you seeking from the next

     2. Can you think your class over pupil by pupil and decide which of
     these points in the _code of action_ most needs be stressed in
     individual cases? Do the topics in this code suggest points of
     emphasis which might serve for many different lessons? Is there
     danger of loss in efficiency if we try to stress too many of the
     points at one time?

     3. Are the children of your class interested in keeping up the
     membership and attendance? What specific part and responsibility do
     you give the members in this matter? Is it possible that you could
     plan to use their help more fully and effectively?

     4. Suppose you try making a list of all the different lines of
     participation in religious activities directly opened up to the
     pupils of your class by the church and the church school. Is the
     list as long as it should be? What further provision could be made
     for the children to have definite responsibility and activity?

     5. Do you think that your pupils are becoming increasingly inclined
     to look upon religion as a _mode of living?_ For example, will your
     children be more agreeable, responsive, obedient, and helpful in
     the home next week for the lessons you have been teaching them?
     Will they have higher standards of conduct in the school and on the


Dewey, Moral Principles in Education.

Sharp, Education for Character.

Partridge, Genetic Philosophy of Education, chapters on "Moral and
Religious Education."

Mumford, The Dawn of Character.

Richardson, The Religious Education of Adolescents.

Alexander, Boy Training.



We have seen in an earlier chapter how the subject matter of religious
education must be selected in accordance with the _aims_ we would have
it accomplish in the lives of our pupils. We have also considered in
separate chapters the religious _knowledge_ required, the religious
_attitudes_ demanded and the practical _applications_ of religious
instruction to be made or the _expression_ to be sought in the everyday
life. Let us now examine somewhat more completely the particular phases
of subject matter which should be used to attain these ends--To what
sources shall we go for the material for the religious instruction of
our children? What subject matter shall we put into the curriculum of
religious education? This is a question of supreme importance to the
individual, to the church, and to civilization.


First of all we must realize that the sources of religious material are
almost infinitely broad and rich. They are much broader than the Bible.
I would not be misunderstood on this point. I conceive the Bible as the
matchless textbook of religion, the great repository of spiritual wisdom
through the ages. It is the primary source to which we must go for
material for religious instruction, not just because it is the Bible,
but because its truths are the surest guide ever formulated for
spiritual development.

Yet human experience and human problems are broader than the Bible. New
ages bring new conditions and new needs. Eternal truths may take on new
forms to meet new problems. God inspired the writers of his Word, but he
also inspires other writers, whose works are not included in the canon.
He echoed in the voice of Isaiah and Jeremiah, but he also touches with
the flame of eloquence other lips than those of the prophets. He spoke
to the child Samuel, but he also speaks to-day to every heart that will
hear his voice. He flamed from the burning bush for Moses, but in like
manner he shines from every glowing sunset for those whose eyes can
there behold his glory.

Breadth and richness of religious material.--The sources of material
available for the religious education of childhood are therefore as
broad as the multiform ways in which God speaks to men, and as rich as
all the great experiences of men which have left their impress upon
civilization. Besides the beautiful story of God creating the earth, we
have the wonderful miracle of constant re-creation going on before our
eyes in the succession of generations of all living things.

Besides the deathless accounts of the heroism of such men as Elijah,
Daniel, and Paul, we have the immortal deeds of Livingstone, Taylor, and
Luther. Besides the womanly courage and strength of Esther and Ruth, we
have the matchless devotion of Florence Nightingale, Frances Willard,
Alice Freeman Palmer, and Jane Addams. Besides the stirring poetry of
the Bible, and its appealing stories, myths and parables, we have the
marvelous treasure house of religious literary wealth found in the
writings of Tennyson, Whittier, Bryant, Phillips Brooks, and many other

Material to be drawn from many sources.--The material for religious
teaching lying ready to our hand is measureless in amount, and must be
wisely chosen. In addition to material from the Bible, which always must
be the center and foundation of the religious curriculum, should be
taken other material from nature; from biography, history, and life
itself; from literature and story; from science and the great world of
objects about us; from music, and from art. All of this multiform
subject matter must be welded together with a common purpose, and so
permeated with the religious motive and application that it will touch
the child's spiritual thought and feeling at many points of his

At no moment, however, must we forget that our primary purpose is not
simply to teach the child stories, literature, history, or science, but
_religion_. By the proper use of this broader field of material religion
may be given a new and more practical significance, and the Bible itself
take on a deeper meaning from finding its setting among realities
closely related to the child's daily life.


The very nature of the Bible requires that we make the most careful
selections from it in choosing the material for religious instruction of
children. Not all parts of the Bible are of equal value as educational
material, and some parts of it have no place in the course of study
before full mental development has been reached.

How we came by the Bible.--It will help us to understand and apply
these principles if we remember how we came by the Bible. First of all
is the fact that the Bible grew out of religion and the life of the
church, and not religion and the church out of the Bible. The Bible is
not one book, as many think of it, but a collection of sixty-six books,
which happen to be bound together. In fact, all sixty-six of these books
are now printed and bound separately by the American Bible Society, and
sold at a penny each. These sixty-six books were centuries in the
making, and they came from widely separated regions. Different ones of
them were originally written in different tongues--Hebrew, Greek, and

The earlier Christians had, of course, only the scriptures of the Old
Testament. It was nearly four hundred years after Christ had lived on
earth before we had a list of the New Testament books such as our Bible
now contains. In the middle of the second century only about half of the
present New Testament was in use as a part of the Scriptures. Some of
the books which we now include were at one time or another omitted by
the Christian scholars, and several books were at one time accorded a
place which are not now accepted as a part of the Bible. The authorship
of a considerable number of the books of the Bible is unknown, and even
the exact period to which they belong is uncertain.

The different writers wrote with different purposes--one was a
historian; another a poet; another, as Paul, a theologian; another a
preacher; another a teller of stories and myths, or a user of parables.
Paul wrote his letters to local churches or to individuals, to answer
immediate questions or meet definite conditions and needs. Jesus left no
written word, so far as we know, and the first written accounts we have
of his life and work were begun forty or fifty years after his death.

The problem of selecting Bible material adapted to children.--The
Bible was therefore a slow growth. It did not take its form in
accordance with any particular or definite plan. It never was meant as a
connected, organized textbook, to be studied in the same serial and
continuous order as other books. It was not written originally for
children, but for adults to read.

Its enduring quality proves that the writers of the Bible lived close to
the heart and thought of God, and were therefore inspired of him. But we
can grant this and still feel free to select from its lessons and truths
the ones that are most directly fitted to meet the needs of our children
as we train them in religion. We can love and prize the Bible for all
that it means and has meant to the world, and yet treat it as a _means_
and not an _end_ in itself. We can believe in its truth and inspiration,
and still leave out of the lessons we give our children the sections
which contain little of interest or significance for the child's life,
or matter which is beyond his grasp and understanding.

Material which may be omitted.--This point of view implies the
omission, at least from the earlier part of the child's religious
education, of much material from different parts of the Bible; these
irrelevant sections or material not suited to the understanding of
childhood may remain for adult study.

For example, we may leave out such matter as the following: The detailed
account of the old Hebrew law as given in Leviticus; much of the Hebrew
history which has no direct bearing on the understanding of their
religion; details of the institution of the passover, and other
ecclesiastical arrangements; the philosophy of the book of Job;
genealogies which have no especial significance nor interest; the
succession of judges and kings; dates and chronological sequences of no
particular importance; any stories or matter clearly meant to be
understood as allegory or myth, but which the child would misunderstand,
or take as literal and so get a mistaken point of view which later would
have to be corrected; the theology of Paul as set forth in his letters;
matter which shows a lower state of morality than that on which we live;
and _such other matter as does not have some direct and discoverable
relation to the religious knowledge, attitudes, and applications which
should result from the study_.

After all such material of doubtful value to the child has been omitted,
there still remains an abundance of rich, inspiring, and helpful subject

The principle on which to select material from the Bible is clear: Know
what the child _is ready for_ in his grasp and understanding; know _what
he needs_ to stimulate his religious imagination and feeling and further
his moral and religious development. Then choose the material

Bible material for earlier childhood.--For the period of _earlier
childhood_ (ages three or four to eight or nine) we shall need to omit
all such material as deals with the broader and deeper theory of
religion. This is not the time to teach the child the significance of
the atonement, the mystery of regeneration, the power of faith, nor the
doctrine of the Trinity. Those sections of the Bible which deal with
such far-reaching concepts as these must wait for later age and fuller

The child is now ready to understand about God as the Creator of the
earth and of man; he is ready to comprehend God as Father and Friend,
and Jesus as Brother and Helper; he is ready to learn lessons of
obedience to God, and of being sorry when he has done wrong; he is
therefore ready to understand forgiveness; he is ready to learn all
lessons of kindliness, truthfulness, and honesty, and of courage; he is
ready to learn to pray, and to thank God for his care and kindliness.
The Bible material taught the child should therefore center upon these
things. The simple, beautiful story of the creation; stories of God's
love, provision, and protection and of Christ's care for children;
incidents of heroic obedience and of God's punishment of disobedience;
stories of forgiveness following wrongdoing and repentance; stories of
courage and strength under temptation to do wrong; lessons upon prayer
and praise and thanksgiving--this is the kind of material from the Bible
which we should give our children of this younger age.

The greater part of the material for this stage of instruction will come
from the Old Testament, and will make the child familiar with the
childhood of Moses, Samuel, Joseph, David, and other such characters as
possess an especial appeal to the child's sympathy and imagination. The
New Testament must be drawn upon for the material bearing upon the birth
and childhood of Jesus.

Material for later childhood.--In the period of _later childhood_
(ages eight or nine to twelve or thirteen) the child is still unready
for the more difficult and doctrinal parts of the Scriptures. Most of
the impulses of earlier childhood still continue, even if in modified
form. Types of Bible material adapted to the earlier years, therefore,
still can be used to advantage.

A marked characteristic of this period, however, is the tendency to hero
worship and to be influenced by the ideals found in those who are loved
and admired. This is the time, therefore, to bring to the child the
splendid example and inspiration of the great Bible characters. The life
and work of Moses, the story of Joseph and his triumph over
discouragements and difficulties, the stern integrity and courage of
Elijah and the other prophets, the beautiful stories of Ruth, Esther,
Miriam, and Rachel, but above all the story of Jesus--the account of
these lives will minister to the child's impulse to hero worship and at
the same time teach him some of the most valuable lessons in religion.

During later childhood, the sense of personal responsibility for conduct
is developing, and the comprehension of the meaning of wrongdoing and
sin. This is the time, therefore, to bring in lessons from the Bible
showing the results of sin and disobedience to God, and the necessity
for repentance and prayer for forgiveness. During this period also,
while the social interests are not yet at their highest, the narrow
selfishness of earlier childhood should be giving way to a more generous
and social attitude, and a sense of responsibility for the welfare and
happiness of others.

To meet the needs of the growing nature at this point many lessons
should be provided containing suggestions and inspiration from high
examples of self-forgetfulness, sacrifice, and service as found in the
life of Jesus, Paul, and many others from the Old and the New Testament.
The child's growing acquaintance with the world about him and his study
of nature in the day schools prepare him for still further deepening his
realization of God beneficently at work in the material universe.
Abundant material may be found in the Bible to deepen and strengthen the
learner's love and appreciation of the beautiful and good in the
physical world.

Material for adolescence.--The _adolescent_ period (ages twelve or
thirteen to twenty or twenty-two) is the transition stage from childhood
to maturity. The broader, deeper, and more permanent interests are now
developing, and character is taking its permanent trend. Conduct,
choice, and decision are becoming more personal and less dependent on
others. A new sense of self is developing, and deeper recognition of
individual responsibility is growing.

It is all-important that at this time the Bible material should furnish
the most of inspiration and guidance possible. The life and service of
Jesus will now exert its fullest appeal, and should be studied in
detail. The work and service of Paul and of the apostles in founding the
early church will fire the imagination and quicken the sense of the
world's need of great lives. The ethical teachings of the Bible should
now be made prominent, and should be made effective in shaping the
ideals of personal and of social conduct which are crystallizing. The
development of the Hebrew religion, with its ethical teaching, and the
moral quality of the Christian religion are now fruitful matter for

During the later part of adolescence the youth is ready to consider
biblical matter that throws light on the deeper meaning of sin, of
redemption, of repentance, of forgiveness, of regeneration, and other
such vital concepts from our religion. The simplest and least
controversial interpretations--that is, the broader and more significant
meanings--should be presented, and not the overspeculative and disputed
interpretations, which are almost certain to lead to mental and perhaps
spiritual disturbance and even doubt.

The guiding principle.--For whatever age or stage of the child's
development we are responsible, we will follow the same principle.
Because we want to cultivate in the child a deep and continuing interest
in the Bible and the things for which it stands, we will seek always to
bring to him such material as will appeal to his interest, stir his
imagination, and quicken his sense of spiritual values. Since we desire
to influence the learner's deeds and shape his conduct through our
teaching, we will present to him those lessons from the Bible which are
most naturally and inevitably translated into daily living. First we
will know what impression we seek to make or what application we hope to
secure, and then wisely choose from the rich Bible sources the material
which will most surely accomplish this end.


The story is the chief and most effective means of teaching the younger
child religion, nor does the appeal of the story form of expressing
truth lose its charm for those of older years. Lessons incomprehensible
if put into formal precept can be readily understood by the child if
made a part of life and action, and the story does just this. It shows
virtue being lived; goodness proving itself; strength, courage, and
gentleness expressing themselves in practice; and selfishness, ugliness,
and wrong revealing their unlovely quality. Taught in the story way, the
lesson is so plain that even the child cannot miss it.

The story also appeals to the child's imagination, which is so ready for
use and so vivid, and which it is so necessary to employ upon good
material in order to safeguard its possessor from using it in harmful
ways. Long before the child has come to the age of understanding
reasoned truth, therefore, he may well have implanted in his mind many
of the deepest and most beautiful religious truths which will ever come
to him.

The Old Testament rich in story material.--The wonderful religious and
ethical teachings of the Old Testament belong to a child-nation, and
were written by men who were in freshness of heart and in
picturesqueness and simplicity of thought essentially child-men; hence
these teachings are in large part written in the form of story, of
legend, of allegory, of myth, of vivid picture and of unrimed poetry. It
is this quality which makes the material so suitable to the child. The
deeper meanings of the story do not have to be explained, even to the
young child; he grasps them, not all at once, but slowly and surely as
the story is told and retold to him. If the story is properly told, the
child does not have to be taught that the Bible myth or legend _is_ myth
or legend; he accepts it as such, not troubling to analyze or explain,
but unconsciously appropriating such inner meaning as his experience
makes possible, and building the lesson into the structure of his
growing nature.

If full advantage is taken of the story as a means of religious
teaching, the grounding of the child in the fundamental concepts and
attitudes of religion can be accomplished with certainty and
effectiveness almost before the age for really formal instruction has

The ethical quality alone not enough in stories.--Many stories of
highest religious value are available from other sources than the Bible,
yet no other stories can ever wholly take the place of the Bible
stories. For the Bible stories possess one essential quality lacking in
stories from other sources; the Bible stories _are saturated with God_.
And this is an element wholly vital to the child's instruction in

We cannot teach the child religion on the basis of ethics alone,
necessary as morality is to life. We cannot help the child to spiritual
growth and the consciousness of God in his life without having the
matter we teach him permeated and made alive with the spirit and
presence of God in it. Nor is there the least difficulty for the child
to understand God in the stories. The child, like the Hebrews
themselves, does not feel any necessity of explaining or accounting for
God, but readily and naturally accepts him and the part he plays in our
affairs as a matter of course.

Stories from other than Bible sources.--But once a sufficient
proportion of Bible stories is provided for, stories should be freely
drawn from other fields. An abundance of rich material possessing true
religious worth can be found in the myths, legends, folk lore, and
heroic tales of many literatures. These are a treasure house with which
every teacher of children should be familiar; nor is the task a
burdensome one, for much of this material holds a value and charm even
for the older ones of us.

Later writers have enriched the fund of material available for children
by treating many of the aspects of nature in story form, thereby opening
up to the mind and heart of the child something of the meaning and
beauty of the physical world, and showing God as the giver of many good
gifts in this realm of our lives. There are also available the stories
of history, and of the real men and women whose lives have blessed our
own or other times, and whose deeds and achievements will appeal to the
imagination and stir the ideals of youth.

The teacher as a story teller.--The successful teacher of religion
must therefore possess the art which will enable him to use the story as
one of the chief forms of material in his instruction. He must _know_
the stories. He must be able to tell them interestingly. The story loses
half of its effectiveness if it must be _read_ to the child, but it may
lose in similar proportion if it is haltingly or ineffectively told. It
is not necessary, at least for the younger children, to use a large
number of stories. In fact, there is positive disadvantage in attempting
to employ so many stories that the child does not become wholly familiar
with each separate one. Children do not tire of the stories they like;
indeed, their love for a story increases as they come to know it well,
and they will demand to have the same story told over and over in
preference to a new one.

The use of the story with older children.--A mistake has been made in
not a few of the Sunday school lesson series in sharply reducing the
story material for all ages above the primary grades. It must be
remembered that while the older child has more power to grasp and
understand abstract lessons than the younger child, there is no age or
stage of development at which the story and the concrete illustration
are not an attractive and effective mode of teaching. Surely, all
through the junior and intermediate grades the story should be one of
the chief forms of material for religious instruction, while for
adolescents stories will still be far from negligible.

The principles of story-using, then, are clear in the teaching of
religion: _Make the story one of the chief instruments of instruction;
see that it is charged with religious and moral value; make sure it is
adapted to the age of the learner, and that it is well told; for younger
children use few stories frequently repeated until they are well known;
do not insist that the child shall at first grasp the deeper meanings of
the story, make sure of interest and enjoyment, and the meaning will
come later._


The child's spontaneous love of nature and ready response to the world
of objects about him open up rich sources of material for religious
instruction. God who creates the beautiful flowers, who causes the
breezes to blow, who carpets the earth with green, who paints the autumn
hillside with glowing color, who directs the coming and going of the
seasons, who tells the buds when to swell and the leaves to unfold, who
directs the sparrow in its flight and the bee in its search, who is in
the song of the birds and the whisper of the leaves, who sends his rain
and makes the thunder roll--this God can be brought, through the medium
of nature's forms, very near to the child. And the love and appreciation
which the child lavishes on the dear and beautiful things about him will
extend naturally and without trouble of comprehension to their Creator.

Nature material useful for all ages.--Most of the lesson material now
supplied for our Sunday schools use a considerable amount of nature
material in the earlier grades, but some important lesson series omit
most or all nature material from the junior department on. This is a
serious mistake. All through childhood and youth the pupil is continuing
in the public school his study of nature and its laws. Along with this
broadening of knowledge of the natural world should be the deepening of
appreciation of its spiritual meaning, and the inspiration to praise and
worship which comes from it. One does not, or at least should not, at
any age outgrow his response to the wonders and beauties which nature
unfolds before him who has eyes to see its inner meaning. None can
afford to lose the simple, untutored awe with which children and
primitive men look out upon the world.

Carlyle, recognizing this truth, exclaims: "This green, flowery,
rock-built earth, the trees, the mountains, rivers, many-sounding seas;
that great deep sea of azure that swims overhead; the winds sweeping
through it; the black cloud fashioning itself together, now pouring out
fire, now hail and rain; what _is_ it? Aye, what?... An unspeakable,
godlike thing, toward which the best attitude for us, after never so
much science, is awe, devout prostration, and humility of soul; worship,
if not in words, then in silence."

In the same spirit Max Müller exhorts us: "Look at the dawn, and forget
for a moment your astronomy; and I ask you whether, when the dark veil
of night is slowly lifted, and the air becomes transparent and alive,
and light streams forth you know not whence, you would not feel that
your eye were looking into the very eye of the Infinite?" And Emerson
reminds us: "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years,
how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the
remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night
come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their
admonishing smile."

When, then, shall we have become too far removed from childhood to be
beyond the appeal of nature to our souls? When shall we cease to "hold
communion with her visible forms," and to find in them one of the many
avenues which God has left open for us to use in approaching him! What
teacher of us will dare to leave out of his instruction at any stage of
the child's development the beneficent and wonder-working God of nature
as he smiles his benediction upon us from the myriad common things
around us!


God is to be found in the lives of nations and of men not less than in
nature, and the evidences and effects of his presence there should be
taught our children. The spirit which Jesus revealed in his life upon
earth is exemplified in the lives of many of his followers who joyously
spend themselves in the service of others. Men who set the standard for
manliness, and women whose character and lives are the best definition
of womanliness, are as much a revelation of God's work and power as a
constellation of stars or the bloom of the rose.

The example of great lives.--So, along with the great Bible characters
we will bring to the child the men, and women of other generations. We
will bring to him the great souls who, as missionaries, have carried the
Light to those who sit in darkness; those who in honesty and integrity
of purpose have served as leaders of nations or armies or movements to
the blessing of humanity; those who, with the love of God in their
hearts, have gone out as ministers, teachers, writers of books, singers
of songs, makers of pictures, healers of sickness; or those who, in any
field, of toil or service, have given the cup of cold water in the name
of the Master.

And we will bring to the child the story of the nations, showing him one
people growing in strength, power, and happiness while following God's
plan of human justice, mercy, and kindness; and another going down to
destruction, its very name and speech forgotten, because it became
arrogant and perverse and forgot the ways of righteousness. At the
proper time in their development we will bring to our pupils the life
and problems of the present--the wrongs that need to be righted, the
causes that need to be defended and carried through to victory, the evil
that needs to be suppressed, the work of Christ and the church which is,
awaiting workers. Thus shall we seek to bring the challenge of life
itself to those we teach.


No discussion of the curriculum can ignore the use of _pictures_ as
teaching material. Teachers of religion have long recognized the value
of visual instruction, and every lesson series now has its full quota of
picture cards and other forms of pictorial material.

In this picture material may roughly be distinguished three great types:
(1) the _symbolical_ picture; (2) the rather _formal_ picture, often
badly conceived and executed, always dealing with biblical characters or
incidents; and (3) the more universalized type drawn from every field of
pictorial art, representing not only biblical personages and events, but
also typifying æsthetic and moral values of every range adapted to the
understanding and appreciation of the child.

Types of pictures.--Representative of the first, or symbolical,
pictorial type are found the more or less crude pen drawings of such
things as the _heart_ with a key, an open _Bible with a torch_ beside
it, tombstone-like drawings representing the _Tables of the Law_ or
three _interlocking circles representing the Trinity, etc._

Not only are all these abstract concepts beyond the grasp or need of the
child at the age when the pictures are represented, but the symbols are
in no degree suggestive to the child of the lesson intended; they are
devoid of meaning, without interest, possess no artistic value, and lack
all teaching significance. Such material should be discarded, and better
pictures provided.

The second type of pictures, or those dealing with Bible topics, contain
teaching power, but should be merged with the third, or true art, type.
That is to say, biblical subjects, moral lessons, and inspiring ideals
should be treated by _true artists_ and made a part of the religious
curriculum for childhood. Wherever suitable masterpieces executed by
great artists can be found, copies should be made available for teaching
religion. Hundreds of such pictures hang in our art galleries, and not a
few of them have already been incorporated into several excellent series
for the Sunday school.

Further, the pictures offered children should be as carefully selected
with reference to _what they are to teach_, and should be as carefully
graded to meet the age, interests, and appreciations of the child as are
other forms of curriculum material. Some otherwise excellent picture
sets of recent publication lose the greater part of their usefulness as
teaching helps through the lack of this adaptation.


Music as a part of the curriculum of religious education offers a
peculiarly difficult problem. No other form of expression can take the
place of music in creating a spirit of reverence and devotion, or in
inducing an attitude of worship and inspiring religious feeling and
emotion. Children ought to sing much both in the church school and in
their worship at home.

Yet most of our hymns have been written for adults, and most of the
music is better adapted to adult singing than to the singing of
children. The ragtime hymns which find a place in many Sunday school
exercises need only to be mentioned to be condemned. On the other hand,
many of the finest hymns of the church are beyond the grasp of the child
in sentiment and beyond his ability in music. The church seriously needs
a revival of religious hymnology for children. In the meantime the
greatest care should be used to select hymns for children's singing
which possess as fully as may be three requisites: (1) music adapted to
the child's capacity, (2) music that is worthy, interesting and
devotional, and (3) words within the child's understanding and interest,
and suitable in sentiment.

     1. Many persons think that teaching the child religion and teaching
     him the Bible are precisely the same thing. Do you think it is
     possible to teach the child parts of the Bible without securing for
     him spiritual development from the process? Is it possible to make
     the Bible itself mean more to the child by supplementing it with
     material from other sources?

     2. Do you ever find lessons provided for your class which are not
     adapted to their age and understanding? If so, do you feel free to
     supplement or substitute with material which meets their needs? Do
     you have sufficient command of the material of the Bible and other
     sources so that you can do this successfully?

     3. Do you know a considerable number of stories adapted to the age
     of your pupils? Are you constantly adding to your list? Are you a
     good story teller? Are you studying to improve in this line? Even
     if your lesson material does not provide stories, do you bring such
     material in for your class?

     4. What use do you make of nature in the teaching of religion?
     President Hall thinks that nature material is one of the best
     sources of religious instruction. Do you agree with him? Are you
     sufficiently in love with nature yourself, and sufficiently
     acquainted with nature so that you can successfully use the nature
     motive in your teaching?

     5. Do you constantly make use of stories and illustrations from the
     lives of great men and women in your teaching? Do you take a
     reasonable proportion of these from contemporary life? Do you bring
     in stories of fine actions by boys and girls? What use have you
     been making of events in the lives of nations in your teaching? Are
     you reading and studying to become more fully prepared to use this
     type of material?


Houghton, Telling Bible Stories.

Raymont, The Use of the Bible in the Education of the Young.

Brace, The Training of the Twelve.

Drake, Problems of Religion, chapter IX.

Athearn, The Church School.



The organization of material to adapt it to the learner's mind and
arrange it for the teacher's use in instruction is hardly less important
than choosing the subject matter itself. By organization is meant the
plan, order, or arrangement by which the different sections of material
are made ready for presentation to the child. The problems of
organization may apply either (1) to the _curriculum as a whole_, or (2)
to any particular section of it used for _a day's lesson_.

It is possible to distinguish four different types of organization
commonly used in preparing material for religious instruction:

1. The _haphazard_, in which there is no definite plan or order, no
thread of purpose or relationship uniting the parts, no guiding
principle determining the order and sequence.

2. The _logical_, in which the nature and relationships of the material
itself determine the plan and order, the question of ease and
effectiveness in learning being secondary or not considered.

3. The _chronological_, applicable especially to historical material, in
which the events, characters, and facts are taken up in the order of the
time of their appearance and their sequence in the entire situation or

4. The _psychological_, in which the first and most important question
is the most natural and favorable mode of approach for the learner--how
the material shall be planned and arranged to suit his power and grasp,
appeal to his interest, and relate itself to his actual needs and


Haphazard organization.--The _haphazard_ plan, which is really no plan
at all, is, of course, wholly indefensible. No teacher has a right to go
before his class with his material in so nebulous a state that it lacks
coordination and purpose. It is this that results in chance and
unrelated questions, irrelevant discussions, and fruitless wanderings
without definite purpose over the field of the lesson, such as may
sometimes be seen in church classes.

The outcome of such instruction hardly can be more than occasional,
disconnected scraps of information, or fragmentary impressions which are
never gathered up and bound together into completed ideals and
convictions. The haphazard type of organization may result from
incompetence, indifference, and failure to prepare, or from taking a
ready-made and poorly prepared plan from the "lesson helps" which is not
adapted to our class. Pity the child assigned to a class presided over
by a teacher who esteems his privilege so lightly as not to make ready
for his task by careful planning.

Logical organization.--In the _logical_ arrangement of material, the
first care is not given to planning it in the most favorable way for the
one who studies and learns it, but, rather, to fit together the
different parts of the subject matter in the way best suited to its
logical relationships. The child is pedagogically ignored; the material
receives primary consideration. The logical order of material fits the
mind of the adult, the scholar, the expert, the master in his field of
knowledge; it begins with the most general and abstract truths. But the
child naturally starts with the particular and the concrete. It gives
rules, principles, definitions, while the child asks for illustrations,
applications, real instances, and actual cases.

The logical method is adapted to the trained explorer in the fields of
learning, to one who has been over the ground and knows all of its
details, and not to the young novice just starting his discoveries in
regions that are strange to him. The logical plan will teach the young
child the general plan of salvation, man's fall and need of redemption,
the wonder and significance of the atonement, and gracious effects of
divine regeneration working in the heart--all of which he needs finally
to know--but _not as a child just beginning the study of religion_. The
child must arrive at the general plan of salvation through realizing the
saving power at work in his own life; he must come to understand the
fall of man and his need of redemption through meeting his own childhood
temptations and through seeing the effects of sin at work around him; he
must understand the atonement and regeneration through the present and
growing consciousness of a living Christ daily strengthening and
redeeming his life.

Chronological organization.--The _chronological_ order of material is
desirable at the later stages of the child's growth and development. But
in earlier years the time sequence is not the chief consideration. This
is because the child's historical sense is not yet ready for the concept
of cause and effect at work to produce certain inevitable results in the
lives of men or nations.

The sequence in which certain kings reigned, or the order in which
certain events took place, or in which certain books of the Bible were
written is not the important thing for early childhood. At this time
the great object is to seize upon the event, the character or the
incident, and make it real _and vital_; it is to bring the meaning of
the lesson out of its past setting and attach it to the child's
immediate present.

Psychological organization.--It is the _psychological_ organization of
material that should obtain both in the curriculum as a whole and in the
planning of the individual lessons. We must not think, however, that a
psychological order of material necessarily makes it illogical. On the
other hand, the arrangement of material that takes into account the
child's needs is certain to make it more logical _to him_ than any adult
scheme or plan could do. That is most logical to any person which most
completely fits into his particular system of thought and understanding.
If we succeed in making our plan of presenting material to the child
wholly psychological, therefore, we need not be concerned; all other
questions of organization will take care of themselves, and _the
psychological will constantly tend to become logical_.

What is meant by a psychological method of arranging material for
presentation has already been discussed (Chapter III). Suffice it to say
here that it is simply _planning the subject matter to fit the mind and
needs of the child_--arranging for the easiest and most natural mode of
approach, securing the most immediate points of contact for interest and
application, remembering all the time that the child speaks as a child,
thinks as a child, understands as a child.

Jesus' use of the psychological plan.--The teacher who seeks to master
the spirit of the psychological presentation of religious material
should study the teaching-method of Jesus. Always he came close to the
life and experience of those he would impress; always he proceeds from
the plane of the learner's experiences, understanding, and interests.
Did he want to teach a great lesson about the different ways in which
men receive truth into their lives?--"Behold a sower went forth to sow."
Did he seek to explain the stupendous meaning and significance of the
new kingdom of the spirit which he came to reveal?--"The kingdom of
heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed," or, "The kingdom of heaven
is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of
meal," or, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good
seed in his field."

And with this simple, direct, psychological, homely mode of approach to
great themes Jesus made his hearers understand vital lessons, and at the
same time showed them how to apply the lessons to their own lives. So
throughout all his teaching and preaching; the lesson of the talents,
the prodigal son, the workers in the vineyard, the wedding feast,
placing a little child in the midst of them--all these and many other
concrete points of departure illustrate the highest degree of skill in
the psychological use of material.


The material offered in the curriculum of our church schools is not,
taking it in all its parts, as well organized as that in our public day
schools. This is in part because the material of religion is somewhat
more difficult to grade and arrange for the child than the material of
arithmetic, geography, and other school subjects. But it is also because
the church school has not fully kept pace with the progress in education
of recent times.

A century or two ago the day-school texts were not well graded and
adapted to children; now, we have carefully graded systems of texts in
all school subjects. While the logical and the chronological method of
organization still holds a place in many of the public school texts, the
psychological point of view, which considers the needs of the child
first, is characteristic of all the better schoolbooks of the present.
Just because religion is more difficult to teach than grammar or history
or arithmetic, we should plan with all the insight and skill at our
command to prepare the religious material for our children so that its
arrangement will not suffer by comparison with day-school material.

Three types of lesson material.--Material representing three different
types of organization and content of curriculum material is now
available and being used in our church schools:

1. The _Uniform Lessons_, which are ungraded, and which give (with few
minor exceptions) the same topics and material to all ages of pupils
from the youngest children to adults.

2. The _Graded Lessons_, which seek to adapt the topics and subject
matter to the age and needs of the child, and which therefore present
different material for the various grades or divisions of the school.
These are usually printed in leaflet or pamphlet form.

3. Real _textbooks of religion_ which are based on the principles used
in making day-school texts. The material is divided into chapters, each
dealing with some theme or topic adapted to the age of the child, the
lessons not being dated nor arranged to cover a certain cycle of subject
matter as in the case of the regular lesson series. The books are
printed and bound much the same as day-school texts.

The uniform lessons.--Although many churches still employ the _Uniform
Lessons_, we shall not hesitate to say that no church school is
justified in this day of educational enlightenment in using a system of
ungraded lessons. Such lessons are planned for adults. They ignore the
needs of the child, and force upon him material for which he is in no
sense ready, while at the same time omitting matter that he needs and is
capable of understanding and using. For example, some of the topics
which primary children, juniors, and all alike find in their ungraded
lessons of current date are, _man's fall_, the _atonement_,
_regeneration_, the _city of God_, _faith_--splendid topics all, but too
strong meat for babes.

Why should we thus ignore the educational progress of the age, starve
our children spiritually, and hamper them in their religious development
by this obsolete system of education which has been long since outgrown
in the public schools? Why should we not ignore tradition, prejudice,
and personal preference, where these are in the way, and _let the needs
of the child decide_? Why should thousands of church schools to-day be
using the Uniform Lessons?

Some use them because they are cheaper; others because they always have
used them and do not like the trouble and disarrangement of a change;
others because of the doubtful theory of the inspiration that comes from
having all the members of the family studying the same lesson at the
same time (we do not expect all the family to read or study the same
material in other lines); and perhaps others because they have not been
accustomed to thinking of religious education following the same
principles and laws as other education. But whatever the explanation of
the use of the Uniform Lessons in our church schools in the past, let
us now see to it that they give way to better material. Let us not be
satisfied, even, when the ungraded uniform lessons are "improved"; they
should not be improved, but discarded.

Graded lessons.--A large and increasing number of our best church
schools are now using some form of graded lesson material based on the
topics supplied by the International Lesson Committee. Each great
denomination has its own lesson writers, who take these topics and
elaborate them into the graded lessons such as we know in the Berean
Series, the Keystone Series, the Pilgrim Series, the Westminster Series,
etc. All such lesson material, which seeks to adapt the material to the
needs of the child as he progresses year by year from infancy to
adulthood, is infinitely superior to any form of ungraded material. It
is easier and more interesting for the child to learn, less difficult
for the teacher to present; and its value in guiding spiritual
development immeasurably greater.

Some form of closely _graded lessons_ is the only kind of material which
should be used in our church schools; the children have the same need
and the same right to material graded and prepared to meet their
understanding in religion as in language or in science. But when we
employ graded lessons we must make sure that _the child, and not the
subject matter; is the basis of the grading_. We must make certain that
the writer of the lessons knows the mental grasp, the type of interests,
the characteristic attitudes, and the social activities of the child at
the different stages, and then arranges the material to meet these
needs. We must not simply aim to cover so much biblical material, even
if we select it as well as we may to come within the child's grasp; we
must have his real religious needs, his religious growth, and his
spiritual development in mind, and provide for these.

Adapting graded lessons to young children.--In the graded series of
lessons now most commonly used in the church schools the material is, on
the whole, fairly well selected to meet the needs of the _beginners_ and
the _primary section_. Interesting stories are told, and much nature
material presented. The work is, of course, all presented to the pupils
by the teacher, as the children cannot yet read. In some cases the
stories used are undoubtedly too difficult, and not a few of them lack
the elements of good story-telling.

Yet the instruction usually centers about the topics most needed by the
child at this time--the love and care of God both for our lives and in
the world of nature about us; the Christ-child and his care for
children; lessons of kindness, obedience and love in the home, etc.
Because of this directness of appeal the child responds to the material
and the teacher finds her task much easier and more fruitful than with
the difficult topics of the ungraded lessons.

Graded lessons not all well adapted to ages.--As the graded lessons
pass on into the _junior_ age, the adaptation of material is generally
less successful than for the primary grades. The topics are based less
on the interests and spiritual needs of the child, and more on the
material. The lessons for the greater part consist of biblical material
only, and are often too difficult for the child to be interested in them
or to understand them. No coordinating principle relates the topics to
each other, and the material consequently comes to the child in rather
disconnected scraps. Too frequently this material, because it belongs to
a later stage of development, is without any particular or direct
bearing on the learner's experience, and hence not assimilated into his

The remedy here is to use a larger proportion of story material, of
biography, of lessons from nature, and of such gems of literature as
carry a spiritual message suited to the child. The caution is to avoid
over-intellectualizing the child's religious instruction, and to make
sure that we do not outrun his rate of development in the material we
give him. The same principles should carry over into the intermediate,
or preadolescence, age. The hero-worship stage is then, at hand, and the
lesson material should be arranged to meet the natural demand of the
child for action and adventure.

In planning a graded series of lessons it is not less important to meet
the needs of the _seniors_, or adolescents, than of the younger pupils.
This has not always been accomplished. Here again, as in the earlier
years, the immediate interests and needs of the learner are to be the
key to the planning of material. A series of unrelated topics dealing
with a distant time and civilization, with little or no application to
the problems and interests that are now thronging upon the youth, will
make small appeal to him. The youth's growing consciousness of social
problems, his interest in a vocation, his increasing feeling of personal
responsibility as a member of the family, the community, the church and
the brotherhood of men are suggestions of the nature of the topics that
should now form the foundation of religious study and instruction.

It is possible that the forgetting of this simple fact in the planning
of material for adolescent pupils is one chief reason for the tragic
loss of interest in the Sunday school which so often occurs at the
adolescent stage.

Text books of religious material.--The _text book_ type of religious
material differs more in the organization and arrangement of material
than in the subject matter itself. The lessons are not based on a set
cycle of biblical material, though, of course, such material is freely
used. Usually one topic or theme is followed throughout the text, the
number of lessons or chapters provided being intended for one year's
work. The following titles of texts now in use suggest the nature of the
subject matter: "God's Wonder World," "Heroes of Israel," "Heroic
Lives," "The Story of Jesus," "The Making of a Nation," "Our Part in the
World," "The Story of a Book," "The Manhood of the Master," "Problems of
Boyhood," "Social Duties," "The Testing of a Nation's Ideals."

Beyond question, the material we teach our children in religion should
be organized and published as real _books_ and not as paper-covered or
unbound serial pamphlets. There is really no more reason why we should
divide religious material up into lessons to be dated, and issued month
by month, than why we should thus divide and issue material in
geography, history, reading, or any other school subject. Children who
are accustomed in day schools to well-made, well-bound books, with good
paper and clear, readable print, cannot be expected to respond favorably
to the ordinary lesson pamphlet. The child should be encouraged and
helped in the building of his own library of religious books, but this
can hardly be done as long as his church-school material comes to him in
temporary form, much of it less attractive on the mechanical side than
the average advertising leaflet which so freely finds its unread way to
the waste basket.

Many of the Sunday school leaflets carry at the top (or the bottom) of
the page an advertisement of the denominational lesson series--matter in
which the child is not concerned, which injures the appearance of the
page, and which lowers the dignity and value of the publication. And
some lesson pamphlets are even disfigured with commercial
advertisements, sometimes of articles of doubtful value, and always with
the effect of lowering the tone of the subject matter to which it is
attached. Religious material printed in worthy book form escapes these
indignities. That textbooks in religion will cost more than the present
cheap form of material is possible. But what matter! We are willing to
supply our children with the texts needed in their day-school work;
shall we not supply them with the books required for their training in
religion? If the texts prove too much of a financial burden for the
children or their parents, there is no reason why the church should not
follow the example of the public school district and itself own the
books, lending them for free use to the pupils.

Guiding principles.--The principles for the organization of the
church-school curriculum, are, then, clear. Its lessons should start
with matter adapted to the youngest child. It should present a
continuous series of steps providing material of broadening scope
adapted to each age or stage from childhood to full maturity. Its order
and arrangement should at all times be decided by the needs and
development of the learner, and should make constant point of contact
with his life and experience. It should be printed in attractive
textbook form, the paper, type, illustrations, and binding being equal
to the best standards prevailing in public-school texts. In short, we
should apply the same scientific and educational knowledge, and the
same business ability in preparing and issuing our religious material
that we devote to this phase of general education.


The teacher's plan or organization of each lesson for presentation to
the class in the recitation is a matter of supreme importance. Even the
best and most experienced teachers never reach the point where they do
not need to prepare specifically for each recitation. No matter how
complete the knowledge of the subject, nor how often one has taught it,
there is always the necessity of fitting it directly to the needs and
interests of the particular class before us. This preparation should
result in a definitely worked out _lesson plan_ which, though it may
finally be modified to fit situations as they arise in the class
discussion, will nevertheless serve as an outline of procedure for the
recitation. Even the teachers' manual supplied with most of the lesson
series cannot take the place of this definite, individual plan prepared
by the teacher himself for his immediate class.

The lesson plan.--The first step in arranging a lesson plan is to
determine the range and amount of material which is to be presented to
accomplish the aim of the class hour. This will include the lesson or
story from the Bible, nature material, memory work, music, pictures or
any other subject matter to be considered. In determining this point the
age of the children, the time available, and the nature of the subject
must all be taken into account. It is a mistake to attempt more than can
be done well, or to try to do so many things that the recitation is too
much hurried to be interesting or profitable.

The lesson plan should provide for a few chief points or topics, with
the smaller points and the illustrations grouped under these. To have
many topics receiving the same amount of emphasis in a lesson indicates
poor organization. For example, in teaching the lesson of _obedience_
from the Garden of Eden story the material may well be grouped under the
following topics: 1. The many good and beautiful things God had given
Adam and Eve, 2. There was one thing only which they might not have. 3.
Their disobedience in desiring and taking this one thing, 4. Their
feeling of guilt and unhappiness which made them hide from God. Under
these four general heads will come all the stories, illustrations, and
applications necessary to make the lesson very real to children.

Small matters of large import.--Of course the particular questions to
be asked and the more immediate applications to be made must await the
unfolding of the lesson discussion with the class. Good planning
requires, however, that we have a set of pivotal questions thought out
and set down for our guidance; and also suggestions for illustrations
and applications under the various topics. If expression work is to be
used, this should be noted in its proper place, and provision made for
carrying it out. In planning for older classes, reference should be made
in the plan to special assignments to be made in books, magazines or any
other material.

Provision should be made in the plan for a summary at the end of the
lesson period, and for the making of the final impression which the
class are to carry away with them. Nor must the assignment of the next
lesson be forgotten. Probably no small proportion of the characteristic
failure of pupils to prepare their lessons comes from lack of definite
assignments showing the child just what he is expected to do, and how to
do it.

Details of a typical lesson plan.--Let us suppose that we are to teach
the lesson of obedience from the story of Adam and Eve to children of
early primary age. Our _Lesson Plan_ might be something as follows:

I. _The Aim or Purpose of the Lesson_--OBEDIENCE.

  1. Knowledge or information to be given the class--
    a. Of the Bible story itself.
    b. Of the fact that God requires obedience.
    c. That disobedience brings sorrow and punishment.
    d. That children owe obedience to parents and teachers.

  2. Attitudes, and feeling response to be sought.
    a. Interest in and liking for the Bible story.
    b. Appreciation of God's many gifts to his children.
    c. Desire to please God with obedience.
    d. Sorrow for acts of disobedience.
    e. Respect for authority of home, school and law.

  3. Applications to the child's life and conduct.
    a. Acts of obedience to God in being kind, cheerful, and helpful to
    b. Cheerful obedience in home and school with no lagging nor ill
    c. Prayer for forgiveness for any act of disobedience.

II. _Material or Subject Matter to be Presented._

  1. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
     The version of the story is important. The original from the Bible
     is too difficult. If the lesson material does not offer the story
     in satisfactory form, go to one of the many books of Bible stories
     and find a rendering suited to your class. Be able to tell the
     story well.

  2. Pictures of Adam and Eve in the Garden.
     Be sure the picture is interesting, well executed, and that it
     shows attractive and beautiful things.

  3. Prayer on obedience.
     The prayer to be brief and simple, asking God to help each one to
     obey him and to obey father and mother, and to forgive us when we
     do not obey.

  4. Music.
     If possible, the music may correlate with the thought of the
     lesson. If not, let it be devotional and adapted to the children
     in words and melody.

  5. Handwork or other form of expression material.
     Cutting and pasting pictures in notebooks; coloring, or other such
     work, to be done either in the classroom or at home.

III. _Mode of Procedure--the Presentation, or Instruction._

  1. Greetings to the class--opening prayer and

  2. Introduction of the lesson and telling of the

  3. Discussion, questions and illustrations to reveal:
    a. The many beautiful gifts which God had given Adam and Eve, and
    which he gives us.
    b. How Adam and Eve were allowed to have everything except just
    _one_ thing among many. Application of this thought to child's life
    at home, etc.
    c. How Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and disobeyed. Practical
    application to child's life.
    d. How Adam and Eve felt ashamed and guilty after they had disobeyed
    God, and how they tried to hide from him. This can be made very real
    to children.
    e. How punishment follows disobedience.
    f. Why we must ask for forgiveness when we have been disobedient.

  4. Summary, or brief restatement of chief impressions to carry away,
  and of applications to be made in the week ahead by the children

  5. Closing prayer and song.

Adapting the lesson plan to its uses.--It is, of course, evident that
lesson plans can be made of all degrees of complexity and completeness.
With a little practice the teacher can easily decide the kind of plan
that best suits himself and his particular grade of work. On the one
hand, the plan should not be so detailed as to become burdensome to
follow in the lesson hour. On the other hand, it should not be so brief
and sketchy as not to bring out the significant elements of the lesson.

Different grades of pupils and different subjects will require different
lesson plans. It is probable, however, that the three major heads of
"Aims," "Material," and "Mode of Procedure" will prove serviceable in
all plan making. While the teacher should have his _plan book_ at hand
in the recitation, he must not become its slave, nor allow its use to
kill spontaneity and responsiveness in his teaching. Both the subject
matter and the day's plan should be so well mastered that no more than
an occasional glance at the details in the plan book will be required.
Nothing must be allowed to come between the teacher's best personality
and his class.

     1. Have you heard lectures, sermons, or lessons which were
     constructed after the haphazard plan? Were they easy to follow and
     to remember? Did they develop a line of thought in a successful
     way? Do you think that the haphazard type of organization indicates
     either lack of preparation or lack of ability?

     2. Do you definitely try to organize your daily lesson material on
     a psychological plan? How can you tell whether you have succeeded?
     Are you close enough to the minds and hearts of your pupils so that
     you are able to judge quite accurately the best mode of approach in
     planning a lesson?

     3. Do you study the lesson helps provided with your lesson
     material? Do you find them helpful? If you find that they are not
     well adapted to your particular class, have you the ability to make
     the suggestions over to fit your class?

     4. Do you make a reasonably complete and wholly definite lesson
     plan for each lesson? Do you keep a plan book, so that you may be
     able to look back at any time and see just what devices you have
     used? If you have not done this, will you not start the practice

     5. What type of lesson material do you use, uniform, graded, or
     textbook? Are you acquainted with other series or material for the
     same grades? Would it not be worth your while to secure
     supplemental material of such kinds?

     6. Do you read a journal of Sunday school method dealing with
     problems of your grade of teaching? If day-school teachers find it
     worth while to read professional journals, do not church-school
     teachers need their help as much? If you do not know what journals
     to secure, your pastor can advise you.


Strayer, A Brief Course in the Teaching Process, chapter XVI.

Betts, Class Room Method and Management, chapter VIII.

Earhart, Types of Teaching.



Our teaching must be made to stick. None but lasting impressions possess
permanent value. The sermons, the lectures, the lessons that we remember
and later dwell upon are the ones that finally are built into our lives
and that shape our thinking and acting. Impressions that touch only the
outer surfaces of the mind are no more lasting than writing traced on
the sand. Truths that are but dimly felt or but partially grasped soon
fade away, leaving little more effect than the shadows which are thrown
on the picture screen.

Especially do these facts hold for the teacher in the church-school
class. For the impressions made in the church-school lesson hour bear a
larger proportion to the entire result than in the public school. This
is because of the nature of the subject we teach, and also because of
the fact that most of our pupils come to the class with little or no
previous study on the lesson material. This leaves them almost
completely dependent on the recitation itself for the actual results of
their church-school attendance. The responsibility thus placed upon the
teacher is correspondingly great, and requires unusual devotion and


The things that impress us, the things that we remember and apply, are
the things to which we have attended wholly and completely. The mind may
be thought of as a stream of energy. There is only so much volume, so
much force that can be brought to bear upon the work in hand. In
attention the mind's energy is piled up in a "wave" on the problem
occupying our thought, and results follow as they cannot if the stream
of mental energy flows at a dead level from lack of concentration.

Or, again, the mind's energy may be likened to the energy of sunlight as
it falls in a flood through the window upon our desk. This diffuse
sunlight will brighten the desk top and slightly increase its
temperature, but no striking effects are seen. But now take this same
amount of sun energy and, passing it through a lens, focus it on a small
spot on the desk top--and the wood bursts almost at once into flame.
What _diffuse_ energy coming from the sun could never do, _concentrated_
energy easily and quickly accomplished. Attention is to the mind's
energy what the lens is to the sun's energy. It gathers the mental power
into a focus on the lesson to be learned or the truth to be mastered,
and the concentrated energy of the mind readily accomplishes results
that would be impossible with the mental energy scattered or not
directed to the one thing under consideration. The teacher's first and
most persistent problem in the recitation is, therefore, to gain and
hold the highest possible degree of attention.

Three types of appeal to attention.--We are told that there are three
kinds of attention, though this is not strictly true. There is really
only one _kind_ of attention, for attention is but the _concentration of
the mind's energy on one object or thought_. What is meant is that there
are three different _ways of securing_ or appealing to attention. Each
type of attention is named in accordance with the kind of compulsion or
appeal necessary to command it, as follows:

1. _Involuntary_ attention, or attention that is demanded of us by some
sudden or startling stimulus, as the stroke of a bell, the whistle of a
train, an aching tooth, the teacher rapping on the desk with a ruler.

2. _Nonvoluntary_, or spontaneous, attention that we give easily and
naturally, with no effort of self-compulsion. This kind of attention is
compelled by _interest_, and, when left unhindered, will be guided by
the nature of our interest.

3. _Voluntary_ attention, or attention that is compelled by effort and
power of will, and thereby required to concern itself with some
particular object of thought when the mind's pull or desire is in
another direction.

How each type of attention works.--The first of these types of
attention, the _involuntary_, has so little place in education that we
shall not need to discuss it here. The teacher who raps the desk, or
taps the bell to secure attention which should come from interest must
remember that in such case the attention is given to the _stimulus_,
that is, to the signal, and not to the lesson, and this very fact makes
all such efforts to secure attention a distraction in themselves.

The _spontaneous_, or nonvoluntary, attention that arises from interest
is the basis on which all true education and training must be founded.
The mind, and especially the child's mind, is so constituted that its
full power is not brought to bear except under the stimulus and
compulsion of interest. It is the story which is so entrancing that we
cannot tear ourself away from it, the game which is so exciting as to
cause us to forget all else in watching it, the lecture or sermon which
is so interesting that we are absorbed in listening to it, that claims
our best thought and comprehension. It is when our mind's powers are
thus driven by a tidal wave of interest that we are at our best, and
that we receive and register the lasting impressions which become a part
of our mental equipment and character.

This does not mean, however, that there is no place for _voluntary_
attention in the child's training. For not everything can be made so
inviting that the appeal will at all times bring about the concentration
necessary. And in any case a part of the child's education is to learn
self-direction, self-compulsion, and self-control. There are many
occasions when the interest is not sufficient to hold attention steady
to the task in hand; it is at this point that voluntary attention should
come in to add its help to provide the required effort and
concentration. There are many circumstances under which interest will
secure a moderate amount of application of mental energy to the task,
but where the will should step in and command an additional supply of
effort, and so attain full instead of partial results.

Children should, therefore, be trained to _give_ attention. They should
be taught to take and maintain the attitude of attention throughout the
lesson period, and not be allowed to become listless or troublesome the
moment their interest is not held to the highest pitch.


Sometimes we speak of "arousing the child's interest," or of "creating
an interest" in a topic we are teaching. Strictly speaking, this is
incorrect. The child's interest, when rightly appealed to, does not have
to be "aroused," nor does interest have to be "created."

Every normal child is naturally alert, curious, _interested_ in what
concerns him. Who has not taken a child for a walk or gone with a group
of children on an excursion, and been amazed at their capacity for
interest in every object about them and for attention to an endless
chain of impressions from their varied environment? Who has not observed
children in a game, and noted their complete absorption in its changing
aspects? Who has not called a child from an interesting tale in a book
he was reading, and found that it required the combined force of our
authority and the child's will to break the spell of his interest and
separate him from his book? Interest is always ready to flow in
resistless current if we can but find the right channel and a way to set
it free. When we find our class uninterested, therefore, we must first
of all seek the explanation not in the children, but in ourselves, our
methods, or the matter we teach.

Interest depends on comprehension.--First of all we must remember that
_interest never attaches to what the mind does not grasp_. Go yourself
and listen to the technical lecture you do not understand, or try to
read the book that deals with matters concerning which you have no
information; then apply the results of your experience to the case of
the child. The matter we teach the child must have sufficient connection
with his own experience, be sufficiently close to the things he knows
and cares about, so that he has a basis on which to comprehend them. The
_new_ must be related to something _old and familiar_ in the mind to
meet a warm welcome.

If we would secure the child's interest, we must make certain of a
"point of contact" in his own life and meet him on the plane of his own
experience. God smiling in the sunshine, making the flowers grow or
whispering in the breeze is closer to the child than God as "Creator."
God protecting and watching over the child timid and afraid in the dark
is more real than God in his heaven as "protector." We must remember
that not what _we_ feel is of value, but _what the child feels is of
value_ is what will appeal to his interest and attention. And no
exertion or agonizing on our part will create interest in the child in
matters for which his own understanding and experience have not fitted
him. For example, probably no child is ever interested in learning the
church catechism or Bible verses which we prize so highly, but which he
can not understand nor apply; he may be interested in a prize to be had
at the end of the learning, but in this case the interest is in the
reward and not in the matter learned. _Empty words devoid of meaning
never fire interest nor kindle enthusiasm._

Interest attaches to action.--Children are interested more in action,
deeds, and events than in motives, reasons, and explanations. They care
more for the uses to which objects are to be put than for the objects

No boy is interested in a bicycle chiefly as an example of mechanical
skill, but, rather, as a means of locomotion. No girl is interested in
dolls just as dolls, nor as a product of the toy maker's skill, but to
play with. It is this quality that makes children respond to the story,
for the story deals with action instead of with explanation and
description. In the story there is life and movement, and not reasoning
and mere assertion. The story presents the lesson in terms of deeds and
events, instead of by means of abstract statement and formal conclusion.

This principle carries over to the child's own participation. Everyone
is most interested in that in which he has an active part. The meeting
in which we presided or made a speech or presented a report is to us a
more interesting meeting than one in which we were a silent auditor. To
the child, personal response is even more necessary. No small part of
the reason why the child "learns by doing" is that he is interested in
doing as he is not interested in mere listening. All good teaching will
therefore appeal to interest through providing the fullest possible
opportunity for the child to have an important share in the lesson. And
this part must be something which _to the child_ is worth doing, and
not, for example, an oral memory drill on words meaningless to the
pupil, nor "expression" work of a kind that lacks purpose and action.
There are always real things to be done if the lesson is vital--personal
experiences to be recounted, special assignments to be reported upon,
maps to be drawn or remodeled, specimens of flowers or plants to be
secured, character parts to be represented in the story, a bit of
history to be looked up, prayers to be said, songs to be sung, or a
hundred other things done which will appeal to the interest and at the
same time fix the points of the lesson.

Interest requires variety and change.--Interest attaches to the _new_,
provided the new is sufficiently related to the fund of experience
already on hand so that it is fully grasped and understood. While there
are certain matters, such as marching, handling supplies, etc., in the
recitation which should be done the same way each time so that they may
become habit and routine, yet there is a wide range of variety possible
in much of the procedure.

The lessons should not be conducted always in the same way. One
recitation may consist chiefly of discussion, with question and answer
between teacher and class. Another may be given largely to reports on
special assignments, with the teacher's comments to broaden and apply
the points. Another may take the form of stories told and illustrations
given by the teacher, or of stories retold by the class from former
lessons. The great thing is to secure change and variety without losing
sight of the real aims of the lesson, and to plan for a pleasant
surprise now and then without lowering the value of the instruction.

Interest is contagious.--Every observing teacher has learned that
interest is contagious. An interested and enthusiastic teacher is seldom
troubled by lack of interest and attention on the part of the class.
Nor, on the other hand, will interest and attention continue on the part
of the class if confronted by a mechanical and lifeless teacher. The
teacher is the model unconsciously accepted and responded to by his
class. He leads the way in interest and enthusiasm. Nor will any sham or
pretense serve. The interest must be real and deep. Even young children
quickly sense any make-believe enthusiasm or vivacity on the part of the
teacher, and their ardor immediately cools.

Children's typical interests have their birth, ripen to full strength,
and fade away by certain broad stages. What will appeal to the child of
five will not appeal to the child of ten, and will secure no response
from the youth of fifteen. Space will not permit even an outline of
these interest-stages here, but genetic psychology has carefully mapped
them out and their nature and order of development should be studied by
every teacher.


There is no possibility of securing good results from a lesson period
constantly broken in upon by distractions. The mind cannot do its best
work if the attention is diverted every few moments from the train of
thought, requiring a new start every now and then. Every teacher has had
the experience of the sudden drop in interest and concentration that has
come from some interruption, and the impossibility of bringing the class
back to the former level after the break. The loss in a recitation
disturbed by distractions is comparable to the loss of power and
efficiency in stopping a train of cars every half mile throughout its
run instead of allowing it an unbroken trip. Careful planning and good
management can eliminate many of the distractions common to the church
school lesson hour.

Distractions from classes reciting together.--The class should have a
room or space for its own sole use, and not be compelled to recite in a
large room occupied by several other classes. The older Chinese method
of education was to have each pupil study his lesson aloud, each seeking
to drown out the confusion by the force of his voice. Many of our church
schools of the present day remind one of this ancient method. The church
building being planned primarily for adults, not enough classrooms are
provided for the children, and it is a common thing to find half a dozen
classes grouped in the one room, each constantly distracted by the
sights and sounds that so insistently appeal to the senses. It is wholly
impossible to do really good teaching under such conditions.

Every church building should provide classrooms for teaching its
children. If these cannot be had in the original edifice, an addition
should be made of a special school building. As a last resort, a system
of curtains or movable partitions should be provided which will isolate
each class from every other class, and thereby save at least the visual
distractions and perhaps a part of the auditory distractions. To fail to
do this is to cultivate in the child a habit of inattention to the
lesson, and to kill his interest in the church school and its work
because of its failure to impress him or attract his loyalty.

Planning routine to prevent distractions.--Not infrequently a wholly
unnecessary distraction is caused by a poorly planned method of handling
certain routine matters. The writer recently observed a junior class get
under way in what promised to be a very interesting and profitable
lesson. They had an attractive lesson theme, a good teacher, a separate
classroom, and seemed to be mentally alert. Soon after the lesson had
got well started an officer appeared at the door with an envelope for
the collection, and the story was stopped to pass the envelope around
the class. It was not possible after this interruption to pick up the
thread of the lesson without some loss of interest, but the teacher was
skillful and did her best. She soon had the attention of the class again
and the lesson was moving along toward its most interesting part and the
practical application. But just at the most critical moment another
interruption occurred; the secretary came in with the papers for the
class and counted out the necessary supply while the class looked on. It
was impossible now to catch up the current of interest again, but the
teacher tried. Once more she was interrupted, however, this time by a
note containing some announcement that had been overlooked in the
opening exercises!

All such interruptions as these indicate mismanagement and a serious
lack of foresight. The fault is not wholly with the teacher, but also
with the policy and organization of the school as a whole. The remedy
is for both officers and teachers to use the same business sense and
ability in running the church school that they would apply to any other
concern. The collection can be taken at the beginning of the lesson
period. The papers and lesson material can be in the classroom or in the
teacher's hands before the class assembles, and not require distribution
during the lesson period. In short, all matters of routine can be so
carefully foreseen and provided for that the class will be wholly free
from all unnecessary distractions from such sources.

Mischief and disorder.--An especially difficult kind of distraction to
control is the tendency to restlessness, mischief, and misbehavior which
prevails in certain classes or on the part of an occasional pupil.
Pupils sometimes feel that the teacher in the church school does not
possess the same authority as that exercised by the public-school
teacher, and so take advantage of this fact. The first safeguard against
disorder in the class is, of course, to secure the interest and loyalty
of the members. The ideal is for the children to be attentive,
respectful, and well behaved, not because they are required to, but
because their sense of duty and pride and their interest in the work
leads them to this kind of conduct. It is not possible, however,
continuously to reach this ideal with all children. There will be
occasional cases of tendency to disorder, and the spirit of mischief
will sometimes take possession of a class whose conduct is otherwise

Whenever it becomes necessary, the teacher should not hesitate to take a
positive stand for order and quiet in the class. All inattention is
contagious. A small center of disturbance can easily spread until it
results in a whole storm of disorder. Mischief grows through the power
of suggestion, and a small beginning may soon involve a whole class.
There is no place for a spirit of irreverence and boisterousness in the
church school, and the teacher must have for one of his first principles
the maintenance of good conduct in his classroom. No one can tell any
teacher just how this is to be achieved in individual cases, but it must
be done. And the teacher who cannot win control over his class would
better surrender it to another who has more of the quality of leadership
or mastery in his make-up, for no worthy, lasting religious impressions
can be given to noisy, boisterous, and inattentive children.

Distractions by the teacher.--Strange as it may seem, the teacher may
himself be a distraction in the classroom. Any striking mannerism, any
peculiarity of manner or carriage, extreme types of dress, or any
personal quality that attracts attention to itself is a distraction to
the class. One teacher may have a very loud or ill-modulated voice;
another may speak too low to be heard without too much effort; another
may fail to articulate clearly. Whatever attracts attention to the
speech itself draws attention away from the thought back of the speech
and hinders the listener from giving his full powers to the lesson.

A distracting habit on the part of some teachers is to walk back and
forth before the class, or to assume awkward postures in standing or
sitting before the class, or nervously to finger a book or some object
held in the hands. All these may seem like small things, but success or
failure often depends upon a conjunction of many small things, each of
which in itself may seem unimportant. It is often "the little foxes that
spoil the vines."

Avoiding physical distractions.--In the church school, as in the
public school, the physical conditions surrounding the recitation should
be made as favorable as possible. Not infrequently the children are
placed for their lesson hour in seats that were intended for adults, and
which are extremely uncomfortable for smaller persons. The children's
feet do not touch the floor, and their backs can not secure a support;
weariness, wriggling and unrest are sure to follow. Sometimes the
ventilation of the classroom is bad, and the foul air breathed on one
Sunday is carefully shut in for use the next. Basement rooms are not
seldom damp, or they have a bad odor, or the lighting is unsatisfactory,
or the walls are streaked, dim and uninviting. If such things seem
relatively unimportant, we must remember that the child's spiritual life
is closely tied up with the whole range of his experiences, and that
such things as lack of oxygen in the classroom, tired legs whose feet
can not touch the floor, eyes offended by unloveliness, or nostrils
assailed by unpleasant odors may get in the way of the soul's
development. Our churches should not rest satisfied until children in
the church schools work under as hygienic and as pleasant conditions as
obtain in the best of our public schools.


It is a well-known law in pedagogy that negatives are not often
inspiring, and that to hold before one his mistakes is not always the
best way of helping him avoid them. Along with the positive principles
which show what we should do, however, it is well occasionally to note a
few of the danger points most commonly met in the classroom.

Lack of definiteness.--This may take the form of lack of definiteness
of aim or purpose. We may merely "hear" the recitation, or ask the
stock questions furnished in the lesson helps, or allow the discussion
to wander where it will, or permit aimless arguing or disputing on
questions that cannot be decided and that in any case possess no real

Indefiniteness may take the direction of failure to carry the thoughts
of the lesson through to their final meaning and application, so that
there is no vital connection made between the lesson truths and the
lives of those we teach. Or we may be indefinite in our interpretation
of the moral and religious values inherent in the lesson, and so fail to
make a sharp and definite impression of understanding and conviction on
our pupils. Our teaching must be clear-cut and positive without being
narrowly dogmatic or opinionated. The truth we present must have an
edge, so that it may cleave its way into the heart and mind of the

Dead levels.--We need to avoid _dead levels_ in our teaching. This
danger arises from lack of mental perspective. It comes from presenting
all the points of a lesson on the same _plane of emphasis_, with a
failure to distinguish between the important and the unimportant. Minor
details and incidental aspects of the topic often receive the same
degree of stress that is given to more important points. This results in
a state of monotonous plodding through so much material without
responding to its varying shades of meaning and value. Not only does
this type of teaching fail to lodge in the mind of the pupil the larger
and more important truths which ought to become a permanent part of his
mental equipment, but it also fails to train pupils how themselves to
pick out and appropriate the significant parts of the lesson material.
It does not develop the sense of value for lesson truths which should
be trained through the work of the lesson hour. Each lesson should seek
to impress and apply a few important truths, and everything else should
be made to work to this end. The points we would have our pupils
remember, think about and act upon we must be able to make stand out
above all other aspects of the lesson; they must not, for want of
emphasis, be lost in a mass of irrelevant or monotonous material of
little value.

Lack of movement in recitation.--Some recitations suffer from
_slowness of movement_ of the thought and plan of the lesson. We
sometimes say of a book or a play or a sermon that it was "slow." This
is equivalent to saying that the book or play or sermon lacks movement;
it dallies by the way, and has unnecessary breaks in its continuity, or
is slow in its action. The same principle applies in the recitation.
Pauses that are occupied with thought or meditation are not, of course,
wasted; they may even be the very best part of the lesson period. But
the rather empty lapses which occur for no reason except that the
teacher lacks readiness and preparation, and does not quite know at
every moment just what he is to do next, or what topic should at this
moment come in--it is such awkward and meaningless breaks as these that
spoil the continuity of thought and interest and result in boredom. We
must remember that every pause or interval of mere empty waiting without
expectancy, or without some worthy thought occupying the mind, is a
waste of energy, time, and opportunity, and also a training in

Low standards.--The acceptance of _low standards_ of preparation and
response in the recitation is fatal to high-grade work and results. If
it comes to be expected and taken as a matter of course both by teacher
and pupils that children shall come to the class from week to week with
no previous study on the lesson, then this is precisely what they will
do. The standards of the class should make it impossible that continual
failure to prepare or recite shall be accepted as the natural and
expected thing, or treated with a spirit of levity. The lesson hour is
the very heart and center of the school work, and failure here means a
breakdown of the whole system. The standards of teacher and class should
be such that probable failure to do one's part in the recitation shall
be looked forward to by the child with some apprehension and looked back
upon with some regret if not humiliation. In order to maintain high
standards of preparation the cooperation of the home must be secured, at
least for the younger children, and parents must help the child wisely
and sympathetically in the study of the lesson.

     1. To what extent are you able to hold the attention of your pupils
     in the recitation? Is their attention ready, or do you have to work
     hard to get it? Are there any particular ones who are less
     attentive than the rest? If so, can you discover the reason? The

     2. To what extent do you find it necessary to appeal to involuntary
     attention? If you have to make such an appeal do you seek at once
     to make interest take hold to retain the attention?

     3. What measures are you using to train your pupils in the giving
     of voluntary attention when this type is required? When _is_
     voluntary attention required?

     4. How completely are your pupils usually interested in the
     lessons? As the interest varies from time to time, are you studying
     the matter to discover the secret of interest on their part. In so
     far as interest fails, which of the factors discussed in the
     section on interest in this chapter are related to the failure? Are
     there still other causes not mentioned in this chapter?

     5. What distractions are most common in your class? Can you discover
     the cause? The remedy? Do you have any unruly pupils? If so, have
     you done your best to win to attention and interest? Have you the
     force and decision necessary to bring the class well under control?

     6. What do you consider your chief danger points in teaching? Would
     it be worth while for you to have some sympathetic teacher friend
     visit your class while you teach, and then later talk over with you
     the points in which you could improve?


Bagley, Class Room Management.

Betts, The Recitation.

Maxwell, The Observation of Teaching.

Strayer and Norsworthy, How to Teach.

Weigle, The Pupil and the Teacher.



Life is a great unbreakable unity. Thought, feeling, and action belong
together, and to leave out one destroys the quality and significance of
all. Religious growth and development involve the same mental powers
that are used in the other affairs of life. The child's training in
religion can advance no faster than the expansion of his grasp of
thought and comprehension, the deepening of his emotions, and the
strengthening of his will.

It follows from this that religious instruction must call for and use
the same activities of mind that are called for in other phases of
education. Not only must the feelings be reached and the emotions
stirred, but the child must be taught to _think_ in his religion. Not
only must trust and faith be grounded, but these must be made
_intelligent_. Not only must the spirit of worship be cultivated, but
the child must know Whom and why he worships. Not only must loyalties be
secured, but these must grow out of a _realization of the cost and
worth_ of the cause or object to which loyalty attaches. Religious
teaching must therefore appeal to the _whole_ mind. Besides appealing to
the emotions and will it must make use of and train the power of
_thought_, of _imagination_, of _memory_; it must through their agency
make truth vivid, real, and lasting, and so lay the foundation for
spiritual feeling and devotion.


Much has been gained in teaching religion when we have brought the
child to see that _understanding_, _reason_, and _common sense_ are as
necessary and as possible here as in other fields of learning. This does
not mean that there are not many things in religion that are beyond the
grasp and comprehension of even the greatest minds, to say nothing of
the undeveloped mind of the child. It means, rather, that where we fail
to grasp or understand it is because of the bigness of the problem, or
because of its unknowableness, and not because its solution violates the
laws of thought and reason.

The reign of law, the inexorable working of cause and effect, and the
application of reason to religious matters should be conveyed to the
child in his earliest impressions of religion. For example, the child
has learned a valuable lesson when he has comprehended that God asks
obedience of his children, not just for the sake of compelling
obedience, but because obedience to God's law is the only way to happy
and successful living. The youth has grasped a great truth when it
becomes clear to his understanding that Jesus said, "To him that hath
shall be given," not from any failure to sympathize with the one who
might be short in his share, but _because this is the great and
fundamental law of being_ to which even Jesus himself was subject; and
that when Paul said, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,"
he was not exacting an arbitrary penalty, but expressing the inevitable
working of a great law. The boy who defined faith as "believing
something you know can't be true" had been badly taught concerning

Religious truth does not contradict reason.--To begin with, while all
of us come to believe many things that we cannot fully understand, not
even the child should be asked to believe what plainly contradicts
common sense and so puts too great a strain on credulity. In a certain
Sunday school class the lesson was about Peter going up on the housetop
to pray, and the vision that befell him there. This class of boys,
living in a small village, had had no experience with any kind of
housetop except that formed of a sharply sloping roof. Therefore the
story looked improbable to them, and one boy asked how Peter could sleep
up on the roof and keep from falling off. The teacher, also uninformed
concerning the flat roofs of Oriental houses, answered, "John, you must
remember that with God all things are possible." And John had that day
had the seeds of skepticism planted in his inquiring mind. Another
teacher, thinking to allay any tendency on the part of his class to
question the literal accuracy of the story of Jonah and the whale, said,
"This story is in the Bible, and we must believe it, for whatever is in
the Bible is true; and if the Bible were to say that Jonah swallowed the
whale that would be true, and we would have to believe that also." But
who can doubt that, with boys and girls trained in the schools and by
their contact with life itself to think, such an invitation to lay aside
all reason and common sense can do other in the long run than to weaken
confidence in the Bible, and so lessen the significance of many of its
beautiful lessons?

True thinking about Bible truths.--What, then, shall we teach the
child about the literalness of the Bible? Nothing. This is not a
question for childhood. The Bible should be brought to the child in the
same spirit as any other book, except with a deep spirit of reverence
and appreciation not due other books. Parts of the Bible are plainly
history, and as accurate as history of other kinds is. Other parts are
accounts of the lives of people, and the descriptions are wonderfully
vivid and true to life. Other parts are plainly poetry, and should be
read and interpreted as poetry. Other parts are clearly the stories and
legends current in the days when the accounts were written, and should
be read as other stories and legends are read. The great question is not
the problem of the literal or the figurative nature of the truth, but
the problem of discovering for the child the _rich nugget of spiritual
wisdom which is always there_.

When the young child first hears the entrancing Bible stories he does
not think anything about their literalness; he only enjoys, and perhaps
dimly senses the hidden lesson or truth they contain. This is as it
should be. Later, when thought, judgment, and discrimination are
developing and beginning to play their part in the expanding mind,
questions are sure to arise at certain points. This is also as it should

When such questions arise let us meet them frankly and wisely. Let us
have the spiritual vision and the reverence for truth that will enable
us, for example, to show the child how the servants of God in those
ancient times used the bold, picturesque figure of "feathers" and
"wings" to express the brooding love and care of God; how they told the
wonderful story of God's creation of the world in the most beautiful
account they could conceive; how they showed forth God's care for his
children, his companionship with them, and man's tendency to sin and
disobedience by one of the most beautiful stories ever written, this
story having its scene laid in the garden of Eden; how these writers
always set down what they believed to be true, and how, though they
might sometimes have been mistaken as to the actual facts, they never
missed presenting the great lesson or deep spiritual truth that God
would have us know.

Protecting the child against intellectual difficulties.--Children
taught the Bible in this reasonable but reverent way will be saved many
intellectual difficulties as they grow older. Their reverence and
respect for the Bible will never suffer from the necessity of attempting
to force their faith to accept what their intellect contradicts. They
will not be troubled by the grave doubts and misgivings which attack so
many adolescents during the time when they are working out their mental
and spiritual adjustment to the new world of individual responsibility
which they have discovered. They will, without strain or questioning,
come to accept the Bible for what it is--the great _Source Book of
spiritual wisdom_, its pages bearing the imprint of divine inspiration
and guidance, and also of human imperfections and greatness.

The developing child should, therefore, be encouraged to use his reason,
his thought, his judgment and discrimination in his study of religion
precisely as in other things. His questions should never be ignored, nor
suppressed, nor treated as something unworthy and sinful. The doubts,
even, which are somewhat characteristic of a stage of adolescent
reconstruction, may be made the stepping-stone to higher reaches of
faith and understanding.

The youth who went to his pastor with certain questionings and doubts,
and who was told that these were "the promptings of Satan," and that
they "must not be dwelt upon, but resolutely be put out of the mind,"
was not fairly nor honestly treated by one from whom he had a right to
expect wiser guidance. He returned from the interview rebellious and
bitter, and it was with much spiritual agony and sweating of blood that
he fought his own way through to a solution which ought to have been
made easy for him by wise enlightenment and sympathetic counsel.

Reverent seekers after truth.--Religion requires the mind at its best.
There is nothing about religion that will not bear full thought and
investigation. We are not asked to lay aside any part of our powers, can
not lay any part of them aside, if we would attain to full religious
growth and stature. Let us therefore train our children to _think_ as
they study religion. Let us lead them to ask and inquire. Let us train
them to investigate and test. Let us teach them that they never need be
afraid of truth, since no bit of truth ever conflicts with, or
contradicts any other truth; let us rather encourage them reverently and
with open hearts and minds diligently to seek the truth, and then _dare
to follow where it leads_.


Imagination, the power of the mind that pictures and makes real, is a
key to vivid and lasting impressions. Unless the imagination recreates
the scenes described in the story, or vivifies the events of the lesson,
they will have little meaning to the child and appeal but little to his

It is imagination that enables its possessor to take the images
suggested in the account of a battle and build them together into the
mass of struggling soldiers, roaring cannon, whistling bullets, and
bursting shells. It is imagination that makes it possible while reading
the words of the poem to construct the picture which was in the mind of
the author as he wrote "The Village Blacksmith," the twenty-third
psalm, or "Snowbound," and thereby enables the reader himself to take
part in the throbbing scenes of life and action. Without imagination one
may repeat the words which describe an act or an event, may even commit
them to memory or pass an examination upon them, but the living reality
will forever escape him. It is imagination that will save the beautiful
stories and narratives of the Bible from being so many dead words,
without appeal to the child.

Imagination required in the study of religion.--In the teaching of
religion we are especially dependent on the child's use of his
imagination. With younger children the instruction largely takes the
form of stories, which must be appropriated and understood through the
imagination or not at all. The whole Bible account deals with people,
places, and events distant in time and strange to the child in manner of
life and customs. The Bible itself abounds in pictorial descriptions.
The missionary enterprises of the church lead into strange lands and
introduce strange people. The study of the lives and characters of great
men and women and their deeds of service in our own land takes the child
out of the range of his own immediate observation and experience. The
understanding of God and of Jesus--all of these things lose in
significance or are in large degree incomprehensible unless approached
with a vivid and glowing imagination.

Many older persons confess that the Bible times, places, and people were
all very unreal to them while in the Sunday school, and that it hardly
occurred to them that these descriptions and narratives were truly about
men and women like ourselves. Hence the most valuable part of their
instruction was lost.

Limitations of imagination.--Since childhood is the age of
imagination, we might naturally expect that it would be no trouble to
secure ready response from the child's imagination. But we must not
assume too much about the early power of imagination. It is true that
the child's imagination is _ready and active_; but it is not yet ready
for the more difficult and complex picturing we sometimes require of it,
for imagination depends for its material on the store of _images_
accumulated from former experience; and images are the result of past
observation, of percepts, and sensory experiences. The imagination can
build no mental structures without the stuff with which to build; it is
limited to the material on hand. The Indians never dreamed of a heaven
with streets of gold and a great white throne; for their experiences had
given them no knowledge of such things. They therefore made their heaven
out of the "Happy Hunting Grounds," of which they had many images.

Many Chicago school children who were asked to compare the height of a
mountain with that of a tall factory chimney said that the chimney was
higher, because the mountain "does not go straight up" like the chimney.
These children had learned and recited that a mountain "is an elevation
of land a thousand or more than a thousand feet in height," but their
imagination failed to picture the mountain, since not even the smallest
mountain nor a high hill had ever been actually present to their
observation. Small wonder, then, that Sunday school children have some
trouble, living as they do in these modern times, to picture ancient
times and peoples who were so different from any with which their
experience has had to deal!

Guiding principles.--The skillful teacher knows how to help the child
use his imagination. The following laws or principles will aid in such

1. _Relate the new scene or picture with something similar in the
child's experience._ The desert is like the sandy waste or the barren
and stony hillside with which the children are acquainted. The square,
flat-topped houses of eastern lands have their approximate counterpart
in occasional buildings to be found in almost any modern community. The
rivers and lakes of Bible lands may be compared with rivers and lakes
near at hand. The manner of cooking and serving food under primitive
conditions was not so different from our own method on picnics and
excursion days. While the life and work of the shepherd have changed, we
still have the sheep. The walls of the ancient city can be seen in
miniature in stone and concrete embankments, or even the stone fences
common in some sections.

The main thing is to get some _starting point_ in actual observation
from which the child can proceed. The teacher must then help the child
to modify from the actual in such a way as to picture the object or
place described as nearly true to reality as possible. The child who
said, "A mountain is a mound of earth with brush growing on it" had been
shown a hillock covered with growing brush and had been told that the
mountain was like this, only bigger. The imagination had not been
sufficiently stimulated to realize the significant differences and to
picture the real mountain from the miniature suggestion.

2. _Articles and objects from ancient times or from other lands may
occasionally be secured to show the children._ Even if such objects may
not date back to Bible times, they are still useful as a vantage point
for the imagination. A modern copy of the old-time Oriental lamp, a
candelabrum, a pair of sandals, a turban, a robe, or garment such as the
ancients wore--these accompanied by intelligent description of the times
and places to which they belonged are all a stimulus to the child's
imagination which should not be overlooked. The very fact that they
suggest other peoples and other modes of living than our own is an
invitation and incentive to the mind to reach out beyond the immediate
and the familiar to the new and the strange.

3. _Pictures can be made a great help to the imagination._ In the better
type of our church schools we are now making free use of pictures as
teaching material. It is not always enough, however, merely to place the
picture before the child. It requires a certain fund of information and
interest in order to see in a picture what it is intended to convey. The
child cannot get from the picture more than he brings to it. The teacher
may therefore need to give the picture its proper setting by describing
the kind of life or the type of action or event with which it deals. He
may need to ask questions, and make suggestions in order to be sure that
the child sees in the picture the interesting and important things, and
that his imagination carries out beyond what is actually presented in
the picture itself to what it suggests. While the first response of the
child to a picture, as to a story, should be that of enjoyment and
interest, this does not mean that the picture, like the story, may not
reach much deeper than the immediate interest and enjoyment. The picture
which has failed to stimulate the child's imagination to see much more
than the picture contains has failed of one of its chief objects.

4. _Stimulate the imagination by use of vivid descriptions and
thought-provoking questions._ Every teacher, whether of young children
or of older ones, should strive to be a good teller of stories and a
good user of illustrations. This requires study and practice, but it is
worth the cost--even outside of the classroom. The good story-teller
must be able to speak freely, easily, and naturally. He must have a
sense of the important and significant in a story or illustration, and
be able to work to a climax. He must know just how much of detail to use
to appeal to the imagination to supply the remainder, and not employ so
great an amount of detail as to leave nothing to the imagination of the
listener. He must himself enter fully into the spirit and enthusiasm of
the story, and must have his own imagination filled with the pictures he
would create in his pupils' minds. He must himself enjoy the story or
the illustration, and thus be able in his expression and manner to
suggest the response he desires from the children. Well told stories
that have in them the dramatic quality can hardly fail to stir the most
sluggish imagination and prepare it for the important part it must play
in the child's religious development.

Skillfully used questions and suggestions can be made an important means
of stimulating the imagination. Such helps as: Do you think the sea of
Galilee looked like the lake (here name one near at hand) which you
know? How did it differ? What tree have you in mind which is about the
same size as the fig tree in the lesson? How does it differ in
appearance? Close your eyes and try to see in your mind just how the
river looked where the baby Moses was found. Have you ever seen a man
who you think looks much as Elijah must have looked? Describe him. If
you were going to make a coat like the one Joseph wore, what colors
would you select? What kind of cloth? What would be the cut or shape of
it?--Hardly a lesson period will pass without many opportunities for
wise questions whose chief purpose is to make real and vivid to the
child the persons or places described, and so add to their significance
to him.

5. _Dramatic representation can be used as an incentive to the
imagination._ Children easily and naturally imagine themselves to be
some other person, and often play at being nurse or school teacher or
doctor or preacher. Nearly every child possesses a large measure of the
dramatic impulse, and is something of an actor. It is great fun for
children to "tog up" and to "show off" in their play. And not only is
all this an expression of imagination actively at work, but such
activities are themselves a great stimulus to the imagination. The child
who has dressed up as George Washington and impersonated him in some
ceremonial or on a public occasion will ever after feel a closer reality
in the life and work of Washington than would come from mere reading
about him. A group of children who have acted out the story of the good
Samaritan will get a little closer to its inner meaning than merely to
hear the story told. The girl who has taken the part of Esther appearing
before the king in behalf of her people will realize a little more fully
from that experience what devotion and courage were required from the
real Esther. A class who have participated in a pageant of the Nativity
will always be a little nearer to the original event than if their
imaginations had not been called upon to make real the characters and


The memory should play an important part in religion. Gems from the
Bible, stories, characters, and events, inspiring thoughts and maxims,
and many other such things should become a permanent part of the
furnishing of the mind, recorded and faithfully preserved by the memory.

Laws of use of memory.--The laws by which the memory works have been
thoroughly studied and carefully described, and should be fully
understood by every teacher. Further than this, _they should be
faithfully observed in all memory work_. These laws may be stated as

1. The law of _complete registration_. The first act in the memory
process is fully and completely to register, or _learn_, the matter to
be retained. The retention can never be better than the registration of
the facts given into the memory's keeping. Half-learned matter easily
slips away, never having been completely impressed on the mind. It is
possible to lose both effort and efficiency by committing a verse of a
poem barely up to the point where it can doubtfully be repeated instead
of giving it the relatively small amount of additional study and
practice which would register it firmly and completely. Whatever is
worth committing to memory should therefore be carried past the barely
known stage and committed fully and completely.

2. The law of _multiple association_. This only means that the new facts
learned shall be related as closely as may be to matter already in the
mind. And this is equivalent to saying that the material learned shall
be _understood_, its meaning grasped and its significance comprehended.
To understand for yourself the value of association, make this
experiment: Have some one write down a list of ten unrelated words in a
column, and hold the list before you while you have time to read it over
just once slowly and carefully. Now try repeating the words in order
from memory. Next, have your friend write ten other words which this
time form a connected sentence. After reading these words over once as
you did the first list, try repeating them in order. You find that you
have much trouble to memorize the first list, while the second presents
no difficulty at all. The difference lies in the fact that the words of
the first list were unrelated, lacking all associative connections with
each other, while those of the second list formed a connected chain of

It is possible to give the child biblical or other matter to memorize
that has little more meaning to him than the list of unrelated words
have to us. For example, this text is required of primary and junior
children in a lesson series: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free." And this: "Let us therefore draw near with
boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may
find grace to help us in time of need." It is evident that younger
children could by no possibility understand either of these beautiful
passages, and hence in committing them will only be learning so many
unrelated words.

The same is true of church catechisms. The memorizing of such material
will be difficult and unpleasant, and no value will come from it. The
most likely outcome of such ill-advised requirements is to discourage
the child and make him dislike the church school and all its work. It is
not to be expected that the child will understand the _full_ meaning of
every bit of matter suitable for him to memorize; this will have to
await broader experience and fuller development. The material should,
however, be sufficiently comprehended that its general meaning is clear
and its significance understood.

3. The law of _vividness of impression_. The relation of vividness of
impression to learning has already been discussed in another chapter. In
no one of the mind's activities is vividness a more important factor
than in memorizing. Matter committed under the stimulus of high interest
and keen attention is relatively secure, while matter committed under
slack concentration is sure to fade quickly from the memory. Songs can
therefore best be committed under the elation of the interesting singing
of the words; a verse of poetry, when the mind is alert and the feelings
aroused by a story in which the sentiment of the verse fits; a prayer
when the spirit of devotion has been quickened by worship. To insure
full vividness the imagination must also be called upon to picture and
make real such parts of memory material as contain imagery.

4. The law of _repetition_. For most minds memory depends on repetition.
The impressions must be deepened and made lasting by being stamped again
and again on the mind. The neurons of the brain which do the work of
retaining and recalling must be made to repeat the process over and over
until their action is secure. It is therefore not enough to make sure
that the child has his memory material committed for this particular
Sunday. If the matter was worth committing in the first place, it is
worth keeping permanently. If it is to be kept permanently, it must be
frequently reviewed; for otherwise it will surely be forgotten. It is to
be feared that much, if not most, of the matter memorized by the pupils
in many church schools lasts only long enough to show the teacher that
it has once been learned, and that not many children know in any
permanent sense the Bible passages they have committed. In so far as
this is true it would be much better to select a smaller amount of the
choicest and best adapted material to be found, and then so thoroughly
teach this that it is permanently retained.

5. The law of _wholes instead of parts_. Many persons in setting at work
to commit a poem, a Bible passage, a psalm have a tendency to learn it
first by verses or sections and then, put the parts together to form the
whole. Tests upon the memory have shown, that this is a less economical
and efficient method than from the first to commit the material as a
whole. This method requires that we go over all of it completely from
beginning to end, then over it again, and so on until we can repeat much
of it without reference to the text. We then refer to the text for what
the memory has not yet grasped, requiring the memory to repeat all that
has been committed, until the whole is in this manner fully learned. The
method of learning by wholes not only requires less time and effort, but
gives a better sense of unity in the matter committed.

6. The law of _divided practice_. If to learn a certain piece of
material the child must go over it, say, fifteen times, the results are
much better if the whole number of repetitions are not carried out at
one time. Time seems necessary to give the associations an opportunity
to set up their relationships; also, the interval between repetitions
allows the parts that are hardest to commit to begin fading out, and
thereby reveal where further practice is demanded. Where songs, Bible
verses, or other material are committed in the lesson hour, provision
ought to be made for the children to continue study and practice on the
material at home during the week. The so-called cramming process of
learning will not work any better in the church school than in the
day-school lessons.

7. The law of _motivation_. Like other activities of the mind, memory
works best under the stimulus of some appealing motive. The very best
possible motive is, of course, an interest in and love for the matter
committed. This kind of response can hardly be expected, however, in all
of the material children are asked to commit. It is necessary to use
additional motives to secure full effort. The approval of the teacher
and parents, the child's standing in the class, and his own sense of
achievement are some of the motives that should be employed.

A very powerful motive not always sufficiently made use of is the wider
_social motive_ that comes from working in groups for a particular end.
For example, a school or class pageant based on some biblical story or
religious event has the effect of centralizing effort and stimulating
endeavor to a degree impossible in individual work. Hymns and songs are
committed, Bible passages or other religious material learned, stories
mastered, characters studied and their words committed under the stress
of an immediate need for them in order to take one's part in a social
group and prove one's mastery before an audience of interested
listeners. The church school can with great advantage centralize more of
its religious memory work in preparation for such special occasions as
Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or other church celebrations or

     1. What reasons can you give why children should be taught to think
     in their study of religion just as in the study of any other
     subject? Do you find a thoughtful attitude on the part of your
     class? What methods do you use to encourage reverent thinking in

     2. One thinks best in connection with some question or problem
     which he wishes to have answered. Do you plan in connection with
     your preparation of the lesson to bring out some definite problem
     suited to the age of your class and help your pupils think it
     through to a solution?

     3. What evidences can you suggest from your class work which show
     that children readily think upon any problem that interests them?
     Have your pupils asked questions showing that they are thinking?
     When such questions are asked, how do you treat them?

     4. What lessons of recent date in your work have you in mind which
     especially required the use of imagination? Can you judge the
     degree to which the descriptive parts of the lessons appeal to your
     pupils as real?

     5. How successfully do you feel that you are applying the
     principles for the use of the imagination? Do you definitely seek
     to apply these principles in your lessons? Which of these is
     probably the hardest to apply? What is your method of seeking its

     6. Are your pupils good in memory work? Do you ever give them
     material to memorize the meaning of which is not wholly clear to
     them? What help do you give the children when you assign them
     memory work? Do you instruct them how to memorize what you assign?
     To what extent are you following the laws of memory as stated in
     the chapter?


Betts, The Mind and Its Education.

Dewey, How We Think.

Coe, Education in Religion and Morals.



One of the surest tests of the skillful teacher is his ability to adapt
his instruction to the child, to the subject matter, and to the
occasion--that is, to the _aim_. Teaching must differ in its type with
the age; the primary child and the older youth require different
methods. It must differ with the kind of material to be presented; a
lesson whose chief aim is to give information must be differently
presented from a lesson whose aim is to enforce some moral or religious
truth. It must differ with the occasion; a lesson taught a group of
children who have had no previous study or preparation on it will demand
different treatment from a lesson which has had careful study.

Types of lessons.--Several clearly recognized types of lessons are
commonly employed by teachers in both school and church-school classes.
No one of these lesson types can be said to be best in the sense that it
should be used to the exclusion of the others. All are required. Several
may even be employed in the same recitation period. The teacher should,
however, know which type he is employing at any given stage of his
instruction, and why he is using this type in preference to another type
of teaching. The following are the chief lesson types that will be found
serviceable in most church school classes:

1. The _informational_ lesson; in which the immediate aim is to supply
the mind with new knowledge or facts needed as a part of the equipment
of thought and understanding.

2. The _developmental_ (or inductive) lesson; in which the aim is to
lead the child through his own investigation and thinking to use the
information already in his possession as a basis for discovering new
truth or meaning.

3. The _application_ (or deductive) lesson; in which the aim is to make
application of some general truth or lesson already known to particular
problems or cases.

4. The _drill_ lesson; in which the aim is to give readiness and skill
in fundamental facts or material that should be so well known as to be
practically automatic in thought or memory.

5. The _appreciation_ lesson; in which the aim is to create a response
of warmth and interest toward, or appreciation of, a person, object,
situation, or the material studied.

6. The _review_ lesson; in, which the aim is to gather up, relate, and
fix more permanently in the mind the lessons or facts that have been

7. The _assignment_ lesson; in which help is rendered and interest
inspired, for study of the next lesson.


The child at the beginning is devoid of all knowledge of and information
about the many objects, activities, and relationships that fill his
world. He must come to know these. His mind can develop no faster than
it has the materials for thoughts, memories, ideas, and whatever else is
to occupy his stream of thought. He must therefore be supplied with
information. He must be given a fund of impressions, of facts, of
knowledge to use in his thinking, feeling, and understanding.

To undertake to teach the child the deeper meanings and relationships of
God to our lives without this necessary background of information is to
confuse him and to fail ourselves as teachers. For example, a certain
primary lesson leaflet tells the children that the Egyptians made slaves
out of the Israelites and that God led the Israelites out of this
slavery. But there had previously been no adequate preparation of the
learners' minds to understand who the Israelites or the Egyptians were,
nor what slavery is. The children lacked all basis of information to
understand the situation described, and it could by no possibility
possess meaning for them.

The use of the information lesson.--It is not meant, of course, that
when the chief purpose of a lesson is to give information no
applications should be made or no interpretations given of the matter
presented. Yet the fact is that often the chief emphasis must be placed
on information, and that for the moment other aims are secondary. To
illustrate: When young children are first told the story of God creating
the world the main purpose of the lesson is _just to give them the
story_, and not to attempt instruction as to the power and wonder of
creative wisdom, nor even at this time to stress the seventh day as a
day of rest. When the story of Moses bringing his people out of Egypt is
told young children, the providence of God will be made evident, but the
facts of the story itself and its enjoyment just as a story should not
in early childhood be overshadowed by attempting to force the moral and
religious applications too closely.

It even happens that the indirect lesson, in which the child is left to
see for himself the application and meaning, is often the most effective
to teaching. The same principle holds when, later in the course, the
youth is first studying in its entirety the life of Jesus. The main
thing is to get a sympathetic, reverent, connected view of Jesus's life
as a whole. There will, of course, be a thousand lessons to be learned
and applications to be made from his teachings, but these should rest on
a fund of _accurate information about Jesus himself and what he taught_.

Danger of neglecting information.--It should be clear, then, that in
advocating the informational lesson there is no thought of asking that
we should teach our children _mere_ facts, or fill their heads with
_mere_ information. The intention is, rather, to stress the important
truth often seemingly forgotten, that to be intelligent in one's
religion there are certain, fundamental _things which must be known_;
that to be a worthy Christian there are certain facts, stories,
personages, and events with a knowledge of which the mind must be well
furnished. There can be little doubt that the common run of teaching in
our church schools has failed to give our children a _sufficient basis_
of information upon which to build their religious experience.

Informational instruction may be combined with other types of lessons,
or may be given as separate lessons which stress almost entirely the
informational aspect of the material. In the younger classes the
information will come to the children chiefly in the form of stories,
and the accounts of lives of great men and women. Later in the course,
Bible narrative, history, and biography will supply the chief sources of
informational material.


It is a safe principle in teaching not to give ready-made to children a
fact or conclusion which they can easily be led by questions and
suggestions to discover for themselves. Truths which one has found out
for himself always mean more than matter that is dogmatically forced
upon him. The pupil who has watched the bees sucking honey from clover
blossoms and then going with pollen-laden feet to another blossom, or
one who has observed the drifting pollen from orchard or corn field, is
better able to understand the fertilization of plants than he would be
from any mere description of the process.

On the same principle, the child will get a deeper and more lasting
impression of the effects of disobedience if led to see the effect of
the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the shame and sorrow and feeling of
guilt that came to them, than he will through listening to ever so many
impressive assertions on the sin of disobedience. If the concrete lesson
is carried over to his own personal experience and his observation of
the results of disobedience, and the unhappiness it has brought, the
effect is all the greater.

Purpose of the inductive lesson.--The developmental, or inductive,
lesson, therefore, seeks to lead the child to _observe, discover, think,
find out for himself_. It begins with concrete and particular instances,
but it does not stop with them. It does not at the start force upon the
child any rules or general conclusions, but it does seek to arrive at
conclusions and rules in the end. For example, the purpose in having the
child watch particular bees carrying pollen to blossoms, and in having
him observe particular pollen drifting in the wind, is to teach in the
end the general truth that _certain plants are dependent on insects and
others on currents of air for their pollenization_.

In similar fashion, the purpose in having the child understand the
effects of disobedience in the case of Adam and Eve and in any
particular instance in his own experience is to teach the general
conclusion that _disobedience commonly brings sorrow and trouble_. The
aim, then, is to arrive at a universal truth of wide application, but to
_reach it through appealing to the child's own knowledge, experience,
and observation_. In this way the lesson learned will have more vital
meaning and it will be more readily accepted because not forced upon the

Two principles.--Two important principles must be kept in mind in
teaching an inductive lesson:

1. A basis or starting point must be found in knowledge or experience
already in the learner's possession.

2. The child must have in his mind the question or problem which demands

The first of these principles means that in order for the child to
observe, think, discover for himself, he must have a sufficient basis of
information from which to proceed. The inductive lesson, therefore,
rests upon and starts from the informational lesson. To illustrate, in
order to understand and be interested in the work of the bees as
pollen-bearers, the child must first _know the fact_ that the blossoming
and fruiting of the common plants depend on pollen. The ear of corn
which did not properly fill with grains because something happened to
prevent pollen grains from reaching the tips of the silks at the right
time, or the apple tree barren because it failed from some adverse cause
to receive a supply of pollen for its blossoms may properly be the
starting point. The _problem_ or question then arising is how pollen
grains are carried. With this basis of fact and of question, the child
is ready to begin the interesting task of observation and discovery
under the direction of the teacher; he is then ready for the inductive
lesson, in which he will discover new knowledge by using the
information already in his mind.

Conducting the inductive lesson.--In conducting the inductive lesson
the teacher must from the beginning have a very clear idea of the goal
or conclusion to be reached by the learners. Suppose the purpose is to
impress on the children the fact of Jesus's love and care for children.
The lesson might start with questions and illustrations dealing with the
father's and mother's care and love for each child in the home, and the
way these are shown.

Following this would come the story of Jesus rebuking his disciples for
trying to send the children away, and his own kindness to the children.
Then such questions as these: How did the disciples feel about having
the children around Jesus? Why did they tell the children to keep away?
Perhaps they were afraid the children would annoy or trouble Jesus. Have
you ever known anyone who did not seem to like to have children around
him? Does your mother like to have you come and be beside her? What did
Jesus say about letting the children come to him? Why do you think Jesus
liked to have the children around him? How did Jesus show his love for
children? Why do you think the children liked to be with Jesus? Do you
think that Jesus loves children as much to-day as when he was upon
earth? Do you think he wants children to be good and happy now as he did
then? In what ways does Jesus show his love and kindness to children?
The impression or conclusion to grow out of these questions and the
story is that _Jesus loved and cared for children when he was upon
earth, and that he loves and cares for them now just as he did then_.
This will be the goal in the teacher's mind from the beginning of the


Not all teaching can be of the inductive, or discovery, type. It is
necessary now and then to start with general truths, rules, or
principles and apply them to concrete individual cases. Rules and maxims
once understood are often serviceable in working out new problems. The
conclusions reached from a study of one set of circumstances can
frequently be used in meeting similar situations another time.

For example, the child learns by a study of particular instances the
results of disobedience, and finally arrives at the great general truth
that _disobedience to the laws of nature or of God is followed by
punishment and suffering_. This fact becomes to him a rule, a principle,
a maxim, which has universal application. Once this is understood and
accepted, the child is armed with a weapon against disobedience. With
this equipment he can say when he confronts temptation: This means
disobedience to God's law and the laws of nature; but _disobedience to
the laws of God and of nature brings punishment and suffering_;
therefore if I do this thing, I shall be punished, and shall suffer--_I
will refrain from doing it_.

Making the application.--A large part of our instruction in religion
must be of the deductive kind. It is impossible, even if it were
desirable, to rediscover and develop inductively out of observation and
experience all the great moral and religious laws which should govern
the life. Many of these come to us ready-made, the result of the
aggregate experience of generations of religious living, or the product
of God's revelation to men. Consider, for example, such great
generalizations as: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be
also;" "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy"; "No man
can serve two masters"; "With what measure ye mete it shall be measured
unto you"; "The wages of sin is death."

These are illustrations of the concentrated wisdom of the finest hearts
and minds the world has seen, words spoken by Inspiration, but true to
the experience of every person. It is our part as teachers to make the
great fundamental moral and religious laws which underlie our lives
living truths to our pupils. To do this we must not teach such truths as
mere abstractions, but show them at work in the lives of men and women
and of boys and girls. We must find illustrations, we must make
applications, and discover examples of proof and verification.

Teaching that fails from lack of applying truth.--The object, then, of
the _inductive_ lesson is to lead the learner to _discover_ truth; the
object of the _deductive_ lesson is to lead him to _apply_ truth. There
can be little doubt that much of our teaching of religion suffers from
failure to make immediate and vital application of the truths we teach.
When we teach the youth that no man can serve two masters, we should not
be satisfied until we have shown him the proof of this truth at work in
the everyday experience of men. When we teach him that the wages of sin
is death, we must not stop with the mere statement of fact, but lead him
to recognize the effects of sin's work in broken lives and ruined

Nor should we confine our proofs and illustrations to examples taken
from the Bible, valuable as these are. Too many, perhaps half
unconsciously to themselves, carry the impression that religion belongs
rather more to Bible times and peoples than to ourselves. Too many
assent to the general truth of religion and the demands it puts on our
lives, but fail to make a sufficiently immediate and definite
application of its requirements to their own round of daily living. Too
many think of the divine law as revealed in the Scriptures as having a
historical significance rather than a present application. One of the
tasks of deductive teaching is to cure this fatal weakness in the study
of religion.


Teaching religion does not require as large a proportion of drill as
many other subjects. This is because the purpose of drill is to make
certain matter automatic in the mind, or to train definite acts to a
high degree of skill. For example, the child must come to know his
multiplication table readily, "without thinking"; he must come to be
able to write or spell or count or manipulate the keys of a typewriter
without directing his attention to the acts required. Wherever automatic
action or ready skill is required, there drill is demanded. Drill
provides for the repetition of the mental or physical act until habit
has made it second nature and it goes on practically doing itself. There
is no way to get a high degree of skill without drill, for the simple
reason that the brain requires a certain amount of repeated action
before it can carry out the necessary operations without error and
without the application of conscious thought.

Drill lessons in the church school.--While the church-school teacher
will not require so much use of drill as the day-school teacher, it is
highly essential that drill shall not be omitted at points where it is
needed. There are some things which the child should learn very
thoroughly and completely in his study of religion. He should know a few
prayers by heart, so that their words come to him naturally and easily
when he desires to use them. He should know the words and music of
certain songs and hymns suited to his age. He should learn certain Bible
passages of rare beauty, and other sentiments, verses, and poems found
outside the Bible. He should come, as a matter of convenience and skill,
to know the names and order of the books of the Bible. In some churches
he is required to know the catechism. Whatever of such material is to be
mastered fully and completely must receive careful drill.

Principles for conducting the drill.--The first step in a successful
drill lesson is to _supply a motive_ for the drill. This is necessary in
order to secure alertness and effort. _Mere_ repetition is not drill.
Monotonous going over the words of a poem or the list of books of the
Bible with wandering or slack attention will fail of results. The
learner must be keyed up, and give himself whole-heartedly to the work.
Let the child come to feel a real _need_ of mastery, and one great
motive is supplied. Let him desire the words of the song because he is
to sing in the chorus, or desire the words of the poem because he is to
take part in a pageant, and there will be little trouble about
willingness to drill.

Again, the competitive impulse can often be used to motivate drill. The
child is ambitious to stand at the head of his class, or to beat his own
record of performance, or to win the appreciation or praise of teacher
or parents, or he has a pride in personal achievement--these are all
worthy motives, and can be made of great service in conducting classroom
or individual drills. The posting of a piece of good work done by a
pupil, or calling attention to the good performance of a member of the
class can often be made an incentive to the whole number.

Drill, in order to be effective, must not stop short of thorough
mastery. The matter which is barely learned, or the verse which can be
but doubtfully repeated is sure to escape if not fixed by further drill.
It is probable, as suggested in an earlier chapter, that we attempt to
have our children memorize too much Bible material which is beyond their
understanding and too difficult for them. On the other hand, there can
be no doubt that we fail to teach them sufficiently well the smaller
amount of beautiful sentiments, verses, poems, songs, and prayers which
should be a part of the mental and spiritual possession of every child.
Our weekly lessons provide for the memorizing of Bible matter week by
week, yet surprisingly few children can repeat any sensible amount of
such material. Better results would follow if we should require less
material, select it more wisely, and then _drill upon it until it is
firmly fixed in the mind as a permanent and familiar possession_.


It is quite as essential that the child shall come to enjoy and admire
right things as that he shall know right things. To cultivate
appreciation for the beautiful, the good, the fine, and the true is one
of the great aims of our teaching. One who is able to analyze a flower
and technically describe its botanical parts, but who fails to respond
to its beauty has still much to learn about flowers. One who learns the
facts about the life of Paul, Elijah, or Jesus but who does not feel and
admire the strength, gentleness, and goodness of their characters has
missed one of the essential points in his study. One who masters the
details about a poem or a picture but who misses the thrill of enjoyment
and appreciation which it holds for him has gathered but the husks and
misses the right kernel of meaning.

How to teach appreciation.--Appreciation can never be taught directly.
The best we can do is to bring to the child the thing of beauty or
goodness which we desire him to enjoy and admire, making sure that he
comprehends its meaning as fully as may be, and then leave it to exert
its own appeal. We may by ill-advised comment or insistence even hinder
appreciation. The teacher who constantly asks the children, "Do you not
think the poem is beautiful?" or, "Is not this a lovely song?" not only
fails to help toward appreciation, but is in danger of creating a false
attitude in the child by causing him to express admiration where none is

There is also grave doubt whether it is not a mistake to urge too much
on the child that he "ought" to love God, or that it is his "duty" to
love the church. The fact is that love, admiration and appreciation
_cannot be compelled_ by any act of the will or sense of duty. They must
arise spontaneously from a realization of some lovable or beautiful
quality which exerts an appeal that will not be denied.

The part of the teacher at this point, therefore, is to act as
interpreter, to help the learner to grasp the meaning of the poem, the
picture, the song, or the character he is studying. The admirable
qualities are to be brought out, the beautiful aspects set forth, and
the lovable traits placed in high light. The teacher may even express
his own admiration and appreciation, though without sentimentality or
effusiveness. Nor is it likely that a teacher will be able to excite
admiration in his class for any object of study which he does not
himself admire. If his own soul does not rise to the beauty of the
twenty-third psalm or to the inimitable grandeur and strength of the
Christ-life, he is hardly the one to hold these subjects of study before


Reviews and tests fulfill a double purpose for the learner: they help to
organize and make more usable the matter that has been learned, and they
reveal success or failure in mastery. They also serve the teacher as a
measure of his success in teaching. The review lesson should not be, as
it often is, a mere repetition of as many facts from, previous lessons
as time will permit to be covered. It should present a _new view_ of the
subject. It should deal with the great essential points, and so relate
and organize them that the threefold aim of _fruitful knowledge_, _right
attitudes_, and _practical applications_ shall be stressed and made

Guiding principles.--If the section of matter under review deals with
a series of events, such as the story of the migration of the Israelites
from Egypt or the account of the ministry of Jesus, then the review
lesson must pick out and emphasize those incidents and applications
which should become a part of the permanent possession of the child's
mind from the study of this material. These related points should be so
linked together and so reimpressed that they will form a continuous view
of the period or topic studied. There is no place for the incidental nor
for minute and unrelated detail in the review.

The teacher will need most careful preparation and planning to conduct a
review. He must have the entire field to be reviewed fully mastered and
in his own mind as a unit, else he cannot lead the child back over it
successfully. He must work out a lesson plan which will secure interest
and response on the part of his pupils. Many review lessons drag, and
are but endured by the class. This may be accounted for by the fact that
the review recitation often fails to do more than repeat old material.
It may also come from the fact that the children are asked details which
they have forgotten or never knew, so that they are unable to take their
part. It may in some cases arise from the fact that the teacher is
himself not ready for the review, and does not like review days.
Whatever may be the cause, the review that fails to catch interest or
call forth enthusiasm has in so far failed of its purpose. The minds of
teacher and pupils should be at their best and concentration at its
keenest for the review lesson.


No small part of the success of instruction depends on faithfulness and
skill in assigning lessons. Too often this is left for the very last
moment of the class hour, when there is no time left for proper
assignment and the teacher can give only the most hurried and incomplete
directions. Or, it may be that the only direction that is given is the
exhortation to "be sure to prepare the lesson for next week." But this
will not suffice. We must not forget that children, especially the
younger children, may not know just how to go to work upon the lesson,
nor what to do in getting it. It is hard for any young child to gather
thought from the printed page, even after he has attained fair skill in
reading; and it is doubly hard if the matter is difficult or unfamiliar,
as is much of the material found in the church-school lessons.

How to make the assignment.--In order to assign the lesson properly
the teacher must, of course, be perfectly familiar with the coming
lesson. This means that he must keep a week ahead in his preparation,
which is in the end no loss, but even a gain. The teacher must also have
the plan of the lesson sufficiently in mind that he knows just what
points are to be stressed, what will present the most difficulty to the
class, what will most appeal to their interest, and what will need to be
especially assigned for study or investigation. In lessons which
children are to prepare at home it is usually well to go over the
material briefly with the class in making the assignment, giving hints
for study, calling attention to interesting points, and stating very
definitely just what the class is expected to do.

If there is to be written work, this should be fully understood: if
handwork or drawing or coloring, it should be made perfectly clear what
is required; if memory material is asked for, it should be gone over,
the meaning made clear to every child, and directions given as to how
best to commit the matter. If outside references are assigned in books
or magazines, the reference should be written down in the notebook or
given the child on a slip of paper so that no mistake may be made. The
purpose and requirement in all these matters is to be as definite and
clear as would be required in any business concern, leaving no chance
for failure or mistake because of lack of understanding. Less than this
is an evidence of carelessness or incompetence in the teacher.

     1. In order better to understand and to review the several types of
     lessons listed in the chapter it will be well for you to look
     through the lessons for the current quarter or year and determine
     to which type each separate lesson belongs. How many do you find
     of each type? Are there many lessons that will involve several of
     the types?

     2. Which type of these lessons do you best like to teach? Is there
     any particular type that you have been neglecting? Any in which you
     feel that you are not very successful? What will you need to do to
     increase your efficiency on this type of lesson?

     3. Do you feel that you are reasonably skillful in leading children
     to discover truths for themselves through the use of questions? If
     you find when questioning that the children lack the information
     necessary to arriving at the truth desired, what must you then do?
     What do you consider your greatest weakness in conducting the
     developmental lesson?

     4. Does your class like review lessons? If not, can you discover
     the reason? Have your reviews been largely repetitions of matter
     already covered, or have they used such devices as to bring the
     matter up in new guise? Do you believe that review day can be made
     the most interesting of the lessons? Some teachers say it can, How
     will you go at it to make it so?

     5. What application, or deductive, lesson have you taught your
     class recently? Was it a success? Have you ever discovered a
     tendency in your teaching to have your class commit to memory some
     great truth, but fail in its application to real problems in their
     own lives? What applications of religious truths have you recently
     made successfully in your class?

     6. What is your method or plan of assigning lessons? Do you think
     that any part of the children's failure to prepare their lessons
     may be due to imperfect assignments? Will you make the assignment
     of the lessons that lie ahead one of your chief problems?


Earhart, Types of Teaching.

Strayer, A Brief Course in the Teaching Process.

Hayward, The Lesson in Appreciation.

Knight, Some Principles of Teaching as Applied to the Sunday School.

Maxwell, The Observation of Teaching.



The particular mode of procedure used in recitation will depend on the
nature of the material, the age of the pupils, and the aim of the
lesson. For the church-school recitation period four different methods
are chiefly used. These are:

1. The _topical_ method, in which the teacher suggests a topic of the
lesson or asks a question and requires the pupil to go on in his own way
and tell what he can about the point under discussion.

2. The _lecture_ method, in which the teacher himself discusses the
topic of the lesson, presenting the facts, offering explanations or
making applications as he judges the case may require.

3. The _question-and-answer_, or discussion, method, in which the
teacher leads in a half-formal conversation, asking questions and
receiving answers either to test the pupil's preparation or to develop
the facts and meanings of the lesson.

4. The _story_ method, in which the teacher uses a story, told either in
the words of the writer or in his own words, to convey the lesson. The
story method differs from the lecture method in that the story recounts
some real or fancied situation or occurrence to convey the lesson, while
the lecture depends more on explanation and analysis.

It may sometimes happen that an entire recitation will employ but one of
these methods, the whole time being given either to reciting upon
topics, to a lecture or discussion by the teacher, or to a series of
questions and answers. More commonly, however, the three methods are
best when combined to supplement each other or to give variety to the


There is really no absolute line of demarkation between the topical and
the question-and-answer method. The chief difference lies in the fact
that the _question_ deals with some one specific fact or point, while
the _topic_ requires the pupil to decide on what facts or points should
come into the discussion, and, so make his own plan for the discussion.

The plan of the topical method.--It is evident that the topical method
of reciting will require more independence of thought than the
question-and-answer method. To ask the child to "give the account of
Noah's building of the Ark," or to "tell about Joseph being sold by his
brothers" is to demand more of him than to answer a series of questions
on, these events. The topical method will, therefore, find its greatest
usefulness in the higher grades rather than with the younger children.
This does not mean, however, that children in the earlier grades are to
be given no opportunity to formulate their thought for themselves and to
express their thought without the help of direct questions.

This power, like all others, is developed through its use, and is not
acquired at a certain age without practice. Even young children may be
encouraged to retell stories in their own words, or to tell what they
think about any problem that interests them; and all such exercises are
the best of preliminary training in the use of the topical method.

Narrative topics.--The easiest form of the topical method is that
dealing with _narration_. Children are much more adept at telling _what
happened_--recounting a series of events in a game, a trip, an incident,
or an accident--than in giving a _description_ of persons, places, or
objects. The Bible narratives will therefore afford good starting places
for topical recitations in the younger grades. Older pupils may be
called upon to discuss problems of conduct, or to make applications of
lessons to concrete conditions, or carry on any other form of analysis
that calls for individual thought and ability in expression.

Report topics.--A modified form of the topical method is sometimes
called the _report_ method, or the _research_ method. In this use of the
topical method some special and definite topic or problem is assigned a
pupil to be prepared by special study, and reported upon before the
class. This plan, at least above the elementary grades, has great
possibilities if wisely used. The topics, if interesting, and if adapted
to the children, will usually receive careful preparation. Especially is
this true if well-prepared pupils are allowed in the recitation to make
a brief report to an interested audience of classmates.

Care must be taken in the use of this method not to permit the time of
the class to be taken with uninteresting and poorly prepared reports by
pupils, for this will kill the interest of the class, set a low standard
of preparation and mastery, and render the method useless. When a topic
of special study is assigned to a pupil, care must be taken to see that
the exact references for study are known and that the necessary material
is available. The devoted teacher will also try to find time and
opportunity to help his pupil organize the material of his report to
insure its interest and value to the class.

Avoiding a danger.--A danger to be avoided in the use of the topical
method is that of accepting incomplete and unenlightening discussions
from pupils who are poorly prepared. To say to a child, "Tell what you
can about David and Goliath," and then to pass on to something else
after a poorly given account of the interesting story is to fail in the
best use of the topical method. After the child has finished his
recitation the teacher should then supplement with facts or suggestions,
or ask questions to bring out further information, or do whatever else
is necessary to enrich and make more vivid the impression gained. This
must all be done, however, without making an earnest child feel that his
effort has been useless, or that what he has given, was unimportant.


The lecture method, if followed continuously, is a poor way of teaching.
Even in telling stories to the younger children, the skillful teacher
leads the pupils to tell the stories back to her and the class. Mere
listening gets to be dull work, and the teacher who does all the
reciting himself must expect lack of interest and inattention.

There can be no doubt that many teachers talk too much themselves
compared with the part taken by their pupils. It is much easier for the
teacher to go over the lesson himself, bringing out its incidents,
explaining its meanings, and applying its lessons, than to lead the
class, by means of well-directed questions, to accomplish these things
by their own answers and discussions. Yet it is a common experience,
especially with children, that we like best any program, recitation, or
exercise, in which we ourselves have had an active part. And it is also
from the lesson in which we have really participated that we carry away
the most vivid and lasting impressions.

The lecture method not for general use.--Every teacher should
therefore consider, when making his lesson plan, just what his own part
is to be in the presentation of material. Some latitude must be allowed,
of course, for circumstances which may arise in the recitation bringing
up points which may need elaboration or explanation. But he should know
in a general way what material he is to bring in, what applications he
will emphasize, and what illustrations he will use. He should not trust
to the inspiration of the moment, nor allow himself to be led off into a
discussion that monopolizes all the time and deprives the class of
participation. More than one church-school class has failed to hold the
interest, if not the attendance, of its members because the teacher
mistook his function and formed the habit of turning expositor or
preacher before his class. The overtalkative teacher should learn to
curb this tendency, or else give way to one who brings less of himself
and more of his pupils to bear upon the lesson.

This does not mean that the teacher shall never lecture or talk to his
class. Indeed, the teacher who does not have a message now and then for
his pupils is not qualified to guide their spiritual development. It
means, rather, that lecturing must not become a habit, and that on the
whole it should be used sparingly with all classes of children. It means
also that all matter presented to the class by the teacher himself
should be well prepared; that it should be carefully organized and
planned, so that its meaning will be clear and its lesson plain, and so
that time will not be wasted in its presentation. It will be a safe rule
for the teacher to set for himself not to come before his class with a
talk that is not as well prepared as he expects his minister to have his
sermon. And why not! The recitation hour should mean at least as much to
the church class as the sermon hour means to the congregation.


Skill in questioning lies at the basis of most good teaching of
children. Good questioning stimulates thought, brings out new meanings,
and leads the mind to right conclusions. Poor questioning leaves the
thought unawakened, fails to arouse interest and attention, and results
in poor mastery and faulty understanding. To the uninitiated it appears
easy to ask questions for others to answer. But when we become teachers
and undertake to use the question as an instrument of instruction we
find that it is much harder to ask questions than to answer them, for
not only must the questioner know the subject and the answer to each
question better than his pupils, but he must be able constantly to
interpret the minds of his pupils in order to discover their
understanding of the problem and to know what questions next to ask.

Questions slavishly dependent on the text.--Not infrequently one finds
a teacher who uses questioning solely to test the knowledge of the
pupils on the lesson text. Probably the worst form of this kind of
questioning is that of following the printed questions of the lesson
quarterly, the pupils having their lesson sheets open before them and
looking up the answer to each question as it is asked.

The following questions are taken from a widely used junior quarterly,
the Bible text being Luke 10. 25-37: "Who wanted to try Jesus? What did
he ask? What did Jesus say? What reply was made? What questions did the
lawyer ask? How did Jesus answer him? What is such a story called? What
is the name of this parable? Where was the man going? Who met him? How
did they treat him? What did they take from him? Where did they leave
him?" No one of these questions appeals to thought or imagination. All
are questions of sheer fact, with none of the deeper and more
interesting meanings brought. All of them may be answered correctly, and
the child be little the wiser religiously. Such a method of teaching
cannot do other than deaden the child's interest in the Bible, create in
him an aversion to the lesson hour of the church school, and fail of the
whole purpose of religious education. The teacher must _be able to use
living questions, and not be dependent on a dead list of faulty
questions embalmed in print_.

Questions arising spontaneously from the topic.--One who does not know
his lesson well enough so that he can ask the necessary questions
practically without reference even to the text, let alone referring to
the printed questions, or asking questions in the words of the text, is
not yet ready to teach the lesson. In order to successful teaching there
must be a constant interchange of response between teacher and class at
every moment throughout the recitation. This is impossible if the
teacher must stop to read the text of the lesson, or take her eyes and
attention away from the class to look up the question which is to come
next. All such breaks of thought are fatal to interest and attention on
the part of the class.

As suggested in an earlier chapter, the teacher should have prepared a
list of pivotal questions as a part of her lesson plan. With these at
hand there should be no necessity for reference to the printed lesson to
find questions during the recitation period. Let the teacher who is
accustomed to slavish dependence on the lesson text for his questions
really master his lesson, and then declare his independence of
tread-mill questioning; he will be surprised at the added satisfaction
and efficiency that come to his teaching.

The principle of unity.--Questions that really teach must follow some
plan of _unity_ or continuity. Each succeeding question must grow out of
the preceding question and its answer, and all put together must lead in
a definite direction toward a clear aim or goal which the teacher has in
mind. One of the serious faults of the questions quoted above from the
lesson quarterly is that they lack unity and purpose. Each question is
separate from all the others. No question leads to the ones which
follow, nor does the whole list point to any lesson or conclusion at the
end. Such questioning can result only in isolated scraps of information.
A series of questions lacking unity and purpose resembles a broom ending
in many straws, instead of being like a bayonet ending in a point: and
who would not prefer a bayonet to a broom as a weapon of offense!

The principle of clearness.--The good questioner makes his questions
_clear and definite_ so that they can not be misunderstood. That this is
not always accomplished is proved by the fact that a child who is unable
to answer a question when it is put in one form may answer it perfectly
when it is asked in different phrasing. The teacher always needs to make
certain that the question is fully comprehended, for it is evident that
an answer cannot exceed the understanding of the question in clearness.

To be clear, a question must be free from obscure wording. One primary
teacher, seeking to show how each animal is adapted to the life it must
live, asked the class, "Why has a cat fur and a duck feathers?" Just
what did she mean for the child to answer? Did she mean to inquire why a
cat has fur instead of feathers, and a duck feathers instead of fur, or
did she mean to ask why each has its own particular coating regardless
of the other? Another teacher asked, "Why did Jesus's parents go up to
Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old?" Did he mean to ask why they
went when Jesus was just at this age, or did he mean to ask why they
went at all, the age of Jesus being incidental? One can only guess at
his meaning, hence the answer could at best be but a guess.

Questions to be within the learner's grasp.--If questions are to be
clear to the child they must deal with matter within his grasp. These
questions are taken from an _intermediate_ quarterly: "Why was the New
Testament written? What was the purpose of the book of Revelation? Fit
the epistle of Paul into the story of his life. What is meant by
inspiration? What are the reasons for calling the Bible the most
wonderful book in the world?" These questions are all clear enough so
far as their wording is concerned, but they belong to the college or
theological seminary age instead of to the intermediate age. While our
questions should make our pupils think, they must not go over their
heads, for one does not commonly think on a question whose very meaning
is beyond his grasp!

Some questions lack definiteness because several correct answers could
be given to the question. Here are a few such: What did Paul claim
concerning one of his epistles? What did Moses do when he came down from
the mountain? What were the priests of the temple required to have? What
happened when Jesus was crucified? What of John the Baptist? What about
Ruth and Naomi? What did Judas become? No one of these questions asks
any definite thing. To answer any of them the pupil must guess at the
particular thing the teacher has in mind. Many answers may be given to
each question which are as correct and which answer the question as well
as the answer the teacher seeks from the pupil. Such questioning comes
either from lack of clearness and definiteness in the teacher's
thinking, with a consequent uncertainty as what he really does mean to
ask, or else from a mental laziness which shrinks from the effort
necessary to formulate the question definitely.

Questions should stimulate thought.--Questions should be
thought-provoking. Usually it is a mistake to ask questions that can be
answered, by a simple _Yes_ or _No_, though there are occasions when
this may be done. For example, children will not be required to think
when asked such questions as, Was Moses leader of the Israelites? or Did
Jesus want his disciples to keep children away from him? But they will
require thought to answer Yes or No to such questions as, Should Esther
have asked that Haman be hanged? or, Can God forgive us for a wrong act
if we are not penitent?

_Leading questions_, or questions that suggest the answer, do not
encourage thought. To ask, Do you not think that God is pained when we
do wrong? or What ought you to say in return when some one has done you
a favor? is to leave the child himself too little to do in answering.
The _alternative_ question, or the question that simply allows the
choice between two suggested possibilities is also fruitless so far as
demanding thought is concerned. In a question like, Was Paul a Gentile
or was he a Jew? the bright child can usually tell from the teacher's
inflection how to answer. In any case he will run an even chance of
giving the right answer from sheer guessing.

The order of questioning.--It is a mistake to ask questions in serial
order, so that each child knows just when he is to be called upon. This
method invites carelessness and inattention. There should be no set
order, nor should a child who has just been called upon feel that he is
now safe from further questioning. The element of uncertainty as to when
the next question will come is a good incentive to alertness. The pupil
who shows signs of mischief or inattention may well become the immediate
mark for a question, and thereby be tided past the danger point.

Usually the question should be addressed to the entire class, and then a
pause of a few seconds ensue before the one who is to answer is
designated. Care must be taken, however, not to wait too long between
asking the question and calling the name of the one expected to answer,
for attention and curiosity quickly fall away, and time and interest are
lost and the recitation becomes slow.

The reception of answers.--The teacher's reception of the child's
answer is almost as important as the manner of asking the question.
First of all, the teacher must be interested in the answer. This
interest must be real, and must show in the manner. Not to look into the
eyes of the child who is answering is to fail to pay the courtesy due
one who is conversing with us; it is not only bad manners but worse
pedagogy. The interested, sympathetic eye of the teacher has a wonderful
power of encouragement and stimulus to the child, while an attitude of
indifference on the part of the teacher is at once fatal to his
enthusiasm. One of the besetting sins of many teachers is to repeat the
pupils' answers after them. This habit probably has its rise in mental
unreadiness on the part of the teacher, who repeats what the child has
just said while getting ready to ask the next question. Besides being a
great waste of time, the repeating of answers is discourteous, and is a
source of distraction, and annoyance to pupils.

Finally, we may say that good questioning on the part of the teacher
leads to questions on the part of the pupils. The relations between
teacher and class always should be such, that the children, feel free to
ask questions on any points of the lesson, and they should be encouraged
to do so. The teacher must have the tact and skill, however, not to be
led away from the topic by irrelevant questions nor to be required to
waste time by discussing unimportant points which may be brought in. It
is to be feared that valuable time is sometimes lost in adult classes in
discussing controversial questions that ought not to have been asked.


The use of the story method of instruction has been mentioned many times
in the course of our discussion. It will still be worth while, however,
to note a few of the principles upon which the successful telling of
stories depends.

First of all, a story is--just a story! It is not an argument, nor an
explanation, not a description, nor a lecture in disguise. A story is a
narrative of a series of events, which may be either real or imaginary.
These events are so related as to form a closely connected unity from
beginning to end, and they are of such nature as to appeal to
imagination, interest, and emotion more than to the intellect. The
successful handling of the story depends on two chief factors: (1) _the
plan or arrangement_ of the story itself, and (2) skill in telling the

The story itself.--The story must not be too long, or interest will
weaken and attention will flag. It must have an interesting beginning,
so that attention and anticipation are aroused from the very first
sentence. "Once upon a time..." "A long time ago when the fairies..."
"There once lived a king who..."--these all contain a hint of mystery
or of interesting possibilities certain to invite response from
children. The commonplace beginning is illustrated in a story in a
primary leaflet which starts, "There was once a mother, who loved her
child as all mothers do." There is no invitation here to imagination or
anticipation, and the evident attempt to enforce a moral truth in the
opening sentence detracts from its effectiveness.

The major characters of the story should be introduced in the opening
sentences. The story should possess a close-knit unity, and not admit
incidental or supplemental characters or events that play no direct part
in the sequel. It must be so planned as to proceed to a _climax_, and
this climax should be reached without unnecessary deviations and
wanderings. We all know that type of story in which the main point is
all but lost in a multiplicity of unnecessary details. On the other
hand, points necessary to the climax must not be omitted. The climax may
be the end of the story, or an ending may be provided following the
climax. In either case the ending should leave the mind of the listener
at rest as to the outcome. That is to say, there should remain no
mystery or uncertainty or unpleasant feeling of incompleteness. The
ending of a story should be as carefully phrased as its beginning. Even
if the story has a sad ending, which is usually not best in children's
stories, it should have some element in it which makes such a conclusion
inevitable, and so leaves the mind in a sense satisfied.

Guiding principles.--The rules to guide in planning the story itself
may, then, be stated as follows:

1. Decide on the _truth to be conveyed_, and make the story lead up to

2. Use great care to compel interest and anticipation through an
_effective beginning_.

3. Plan to have the body of the story reasonably brief, and to make the
main truth _stand out in a climax_. Eliminate all complications or
irrelevant matter that does not aid in leading up to the climax.
Elaborate and stress all features that help in making the impression to
be attained in the climax.

4. Make the ending such as to leave in the mind a feeling that the story
was _satisfactory and complete_.

Telling the story.--The effective story must be _told_. It cannot be
read without losing something of spontaneity and attractiveness. It
cannot even be committed to memory and repeated; for here also is
lacking something of the living glow and appeal that come from having
the words spring fresh and warm from the mind that is actually thinking
and feeling them. Most story-tellers find that it pays to work out
carefully and commit to memory the opening and closing sentences of a
story; the phrasing is so important here that it should not be left to
chance. But the body of the story is better given extemporaneously even
if the wording is not as perfect as it could be made by reading or
reciting the matter.

Before trying to tell a story before his class, the teacher should
rehearse it several times. Nothing but practice will give the ease,
certainty, and spontaneity necessary to good story-telling. Even
professional story-tellers realize that they do not tell a new story
well until they have told it a number of times. Perhaps this is in part
because one never enjoys telling a story until he is sure he can tell it
well, and so get a response from his listeners. And one never tells a
story really well unless he himself enjoys both the story and its
telling. One never brings the full effectiveness of a story to bear on
his hearers unless he himself enters fully into its appreciation, and
moves himself while stirring the emotions of those who listen.

The right atmosphere required.--Second in importance only to preparing
himself for the telling of the story is the preparing of the class to
listen. The right atmosphere of thought, attitude and feeling should be
created for the story before it is begun. A primary teacher was about to
begin a story whose purpose was to show how God cares for the birds by
giving them feathers to keep them warm, wings for swift flying, and cozy
nests for their homes, when suddenly a little bird flew in through the
classroom window and was killed before the class by dashing against the
wall. Of course the right atmosphere for her story was then impossible,
and she wisely left it for another time.

The approach to the story can be made by some question or suggestion
relating to the pupils' own experience, by a sentence or two of
explanation, or by an illustration dealing with matters familiar to the
class. But whatever device is used, the introduction should prepare the
minds of the class to receive the story by turning their thought in the
direction which the story is to take. It is also important that any new
terms or unfamiliar situations which are to be used in the story, and
which might not be understood by the class, shall be cleared up before
the story is begun.

Arts and devices of the story-teller.--The skillful story-teller will
soon learn to use certain arts and devices to make the telling more
effective. One such device is the use of direct discourse; that is,
instead of telling _about_ the giants, the fairies, the animals, give
them human speech and let them speak for themselves, like the bear in
Little Red Riding Hood. Another effective device is that of repeating in
the course of the story certain important words or phrases until from
this repetition they stand out and become emphasized. Some of the best
story-tellers make effective use of pauses, thus creating a situation of
curiosity and suspense in the minds of the listeners. The pause must be
neither too long nor too short, nor can any tell just how long it ought
to be except from the response of the children themselves, which the
teacher must be able to sense accurately and unfailingly. Much may be
added to the effect of stories by skillful use of the various arts of
expression, such as facial expression, voice tone, quality, and
inflection, and gesture. The use of mimicry, imitation, and
impersonation is also very effective if this ability comes naturally to
the one who attempts to use it, but these would better be omitted than
poorly done.

Good stories sometimes lose much of their effectiveness by having the
moral stated at the end, or by having an attempt at moralizing too
evident in the telling of the story. A story which has a lesson inherent
in the story itself will teach its own moral if it is well told. If the
truth to be conveyed is not clear to the child from the story, it will
hardly appeal to him by having it tacked on at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have, then, come to the end of our brief study of the teaching of
religion. We have seen some of its principles and methods, and have
discovered these at work in various illustrations and applications. It
now remains to realize that these are all to be found in brief epitome
in the work of the Great Teacher. For Jesus was first of all a
_teacher_, rather than a preacher. And as a teacher he supplied the
model which anticipated all modern psychology and scientific pedagogy,
and gave us in his concrete example and method a standard which the most
skillful among us never wholly attain. While we may love Jesus as a
friend, come to him as a comforter and helper, seek to follow him as a
guide, and worship him as a Saviour, it will be well for us now and then
momentarily to place these relations in the background and study him
just as a _teacher_.

Jesus possessed an attractive, inspiring, compelling personality. People
naturally came to him with their questions and problems. His quick
sympathy, ready understanding, and unerring insight invited friendship,
confidence, and devotion. He was ever sure of his "great objective," and
whether he was teaching his disciples stupendous truths about the
kingdom of God, or whether he was pointing the wayward woman the way to
a reconstructed life, the welfare of the _living soul before him_ was
his controlling thought. Jesus had a true sense of the value of a life,
and no life was too humble or too unpromising for him to lavish upon it
all the wealth of his interest and all the power of his sympathy and
helpfulness. He did not feel that his time was poorly spent when he was
teaching small groups, and many of the choicest gems of his teaching
were given to a mere handful of earnest listeners seated at his feet.

In all his teaching Jesus manifested a deep reverence for vital _truth_.
He told his disciples, "The truth shall make you free." He was never
afraid of truth, but accepted it reverently, even when it ran counter to
accepted authority. Nor did Jesus ever lose time or opportunity in
teaching trivial and unessential matters to his hearers; the knowledge
he gave them was always of such fruitful nature that they could at once
apply it to their living, Jesus's teaching carried over; it showed its
effect in changed attitudes of life, in new purposes, compelling ideals,
and great loyalties and devotions. Out of a band of commonplace
fishermen and ordinary men he made a company of evangelists and
reformers whose work and influence changed the course of civilization.
Every person who responded to his instruction felt the glow of a new
ambition and the desire to have a part in the great mission. Thus the
teaching of Jesus entered into the actual life and conduct of his
pupils. The truths he taught did not lie dormant as so much mere
attainment of knowledge. They took root and blossomed into action, into
transformed lives, and into heroic deeds of kindly service. The constant
keynote and demand of Jesus's teaching was shown forth in his, "He that
heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them"; he was never satisfied
without the doing.

Much is to be learned from the technique of Jesus's teaching, imperfect
though the account is of his instruction. He always met his hearers on
the plane of their own lives. He would begin his instruction with some
common and familiar experience, and lead by questions or illustrations
to the truth he wished to present. In this way, without the use of
technical words or long phrases, he was able to teach deep and
significant truths even to relatively uninformed minds. Jesus appealed
to the imagination through picturesque illustrations and parables. He
made his hearers think for the truth they reached, and so presented each
truth that its application to some immediate problem or need could not
be escaped. He was always interesting in his lessons, for they did not
deal with unimportant matters nor with tiresome platitudes. He never
failed to have definite aim or conclusion toward which his teaching was
directed, and the words or questions he used in his instruction moved
without deviation toward the accomplishment of this aim. He was too
clear, too deeply in earnest, and too completely the master of what he
was teaching ever to wander, or be uncertain or to waste time and
opportunity. He felt too compelling a love for those he taught ever to
fail at his task.

Finally, Jesus was himself the embodiment of the truths and ideals he
offered others. He lived the lessons he desired his pupils to learn. He
rendered concrete in himself the religion he would have his followers
adopt. His life was a lesson which all could learn and follow.

     1. Which type of recitation method do you most commonly employ?
     Which do you like best? Do you combine the several methods
     occasionally in the same recitation? Do you plan which is best for
     each particular occasion?

     2. To what extent do you use the topical method? Do your pupils
     succeed in discussing the topics with fair completeness? Do you
     always supplement with matter of your own, or expand the topics by
     asking questions when the discussion has been incomplete?

     3. Stenographic reports of various recitations have shown that
     teachers often themselves use from two to three or four times as
     many words in the lesson hour as all the pupils combined. Do you
     believe that for young pupils this is good teaching? Have you any
     accurate notion of the time you yourself take? Do you talk too

     4. Study your questioning in the recitation and determine as well
     as you can which of the principles of good questioning you are most
     successful in applying; which you are least successful in applying.

     5. To what extent do you use the story as a method of instruction?
     How do you judge you would rank as a story-teller? To what extent
     have you studied the art of story-telling? Are you constantly
     improving? What difference have you noted in the interest of a
     class when a story is _told_ and when it is _read_?


Betts, The Recitation.

Hamilton, The Recitation.

Home, Story-Telling, Questioning and Studying.

St. John, Stories and Story-Telling.

Houghton, Telling Bible Stories.


ADOLESCENCE, subject matter for, 117
AIM, the
  the child determining, 30
  of religious instruction, 42
  religious habits as, 193
  as an aim of instruction, 86
  cultivating religious, 194
APPROACH, psychological mode of, 52
  in religious teaching, 72
  types of in curriculum, 125
ASSIGNMENT of lesson, 197
  religious as aim, 45
  to be cultivated, 76
  toward the school, 77
  the child's spiritual, 84

BIBLE, the
  the teacher's knowledge of, 23
  the child's knowledge of, 68
  continuing interest in, 82
  as a source of material, 111
  and reason, 167

CONSERVATION, religious, 33
CHILD, the
  as a Christian, 34
  his concept of God, 59
  his concept of religion, 63
  the teacher's knowledge of, 25
  as the great objective, 30
  and his spiritual growth, 31
CHRISTIAN, the child, 34
  the child's knowledge of, 69
  participation in activities of, 101
  loyalty to, 88

  in instruction, 161
  how avoided, 162
DEDUCTION, in religion, 190
  freedom from in recitation, 155
  avoiding unnecessary, 156
  children and, 176
  use of in teaching, 176
DRILL, place of, 192
DUTY, as a virtue, 99

  religious in the home, 106
  as a mode of learning, 44
  in social service, 101

GIVING, training in, 104
  the child's concept of, 59
  harm from wrong concepts of, 60
  made the daily counselor, 100

  preventing the, of defeat, 81
  religious, as aim, 93
  the growth of, 94
HEROES, appeal of to child, 89
HOME, religious expression in, 106

  use of in religion, 170
  how to appeal to, 172
INDUCTION, use of in religion, 187
  response as a test of, 53
  various tests of, 56, 107
  as a test of attitude, 79
  in the Bible, 82
  how to appeal to, 151

JESUS, an ideal teacher, 217

  religious as an aim, 44
  of most worth, 58
  of the Bible, 67
  of the church, 69

LABORATORY, work in religion, 102
  Uniform, the, 134
  Graded, the, 134
  in text book form, 134
  different types of, 183
  requirements of for religion, 43
  religious teaching and, 91
  a code for, 95
LOTI, PIERRE, quoted, 61
LOYALTY, cultivation of, 88

MATERIAL, for instruction
  means instead of end, 35
  adapting to child, 50
  chapter on, 109
  sources of, in
  in story form, 118
  organization of, 126
  of success, 38
  of child's progress, 39
  laws of, 177
  training of, 179
  of the recitation, 201
  the topical, 202
  the lecture, 204
  the question-and-answer, 206
  the story, 212
  in worship, 72
  in the curriculum, 126

NATURE, as a source of material, 122
NEGLECT, and stress of subject matter, 51

OBEDIENCE, as a virtue, 97
  chapter on, 30
  for the teacher, 30
  effect of on teaching, 37
ORGANIZATION, of material
  chapter on, 129
  different types of, 130

  building of, 16
  chart for, 18
  types of in use, 125
  appeal of to child, 174
PLAN, the lesson, 141
PRESENTATION, and response, 55
PRINCIPLES, foundation in teaching, 42

QUESTION, the, method, 206
QUESTIONING, principles of, 207

RECITATION, the, 201
  the child's concept of, 63
  related to living, 64, 92
  and art, 72
  influence of music in, 72
  laboratory work in, 102
REVIEW, the, 196

SCHOOL, the church
  pupils' attitude toward, 77
  the spirit of, 78
SCORE CARD, for personality, 19
  social as expression, 101
  training in social, 105
SINGING, in worship, 104
STORY, the
  as lesson material, 118
  other than Bible, 120
  method of, 212
  principles of telling, 214
STRESS, and neglect of material, 51
  as means to end, 35
  selecting right, 48
  chapter on, 109
  sources of, 111

  chapter on, 13
  types of, 14
  preparation of, 21
  as a student, 27
  technique of, 148
  measures of effective, 165
  types of, 183
TEXT BOOKS, of religion, 139
  required in religion, 165
  and Bible study, 167


WELLS, H.G., quoted, 60
WORSHIP, in church school, 104

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Teach Religion - Principles and Methods" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.