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Learning to become responsible readers of the Bible

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Learning to become responsible readers of the Bible

5 minuten leestijd

the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me’, Jesus said (John 5:39). So, few things pupils can learn at school are more important than reading – and understanding – the Bible. ‘Search

We at NICER are researching how English schools engage the Bible in religious education classrooms. Church schools teach children to read, and also they teach them to read the Bible. But how?

Research reveals three challenges:

1. The teacher tells the students what a text means and the students never engage the narrative themselves.

Schools are places of reading, but in many English secondary schools, students will only encounter a sacred text through short quotes. If Biblical texts are well known, quotes are gateways into a hinterland Christian narrative. However, if that hinterland is not known, then quotes are finishing points for learners. Worse still, short quotes are easily shaped to mean almost anything.

2. The text is presented as history, a world only of the past.

Knowing about the time and setting of the Biblical texts illuminates their first context and richer meanings come to life. However, if the lesson stops in the past, then the text has only a past meaning without living potency to still speak today. In the Bible, the Gospels are Good News, not Good Olds! Teachers are required to be skilled at helping students encounter the text speaking to them, whoever they are. Bible readers are rereaders, readers in time and place today.

3. If the text can mean anything, it can mean nothing.

This danger comes from the multiplication of individual readings. The text is “subjectified” to every reader and robbed of shared understanding. If one person dominates meaning to the exclusion of all other voices, then communication ends. Responsible rereading is an educational priority.

What can Dutch reformed schools lean from our research? School classrooms should become learners of sacred texts scholarship. Schools should teach students to read texts in their original settings, as author and audience first heard them. They should teach students to become rereaders themselves, to see meaning from their situation.

But they must also teach students to reread responsibility, with knowledge of how communities have heard the Bible speak.

At NICER we are working to encourage improvements in schools and examinations to support these ends. You can read more about this initiative with free resources here: www.canterbury.ac.uk/nicer/hermeneutics.




Director of the National Institute of Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 mei 2020

De Reformatorische School | 48 Pagina's

Learning to become responsible readers of the Bible

Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 mei 2020

De Reformatorische School | 48 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken