I was nervous returning to my fourth-grade religious ed class this afternoon after two weeks off for the Christmas holidays. I was afraid I might have lost my connection with the kids, and like other teachers, I did find them more restless than they had been before the break.
As usual, I entered the class with a bare-bones mission: Spend the next two or even three weeks going over the Ten Commandments. These children know so little about their Faith, their Church and its history, I consider it a minor miracle when they can all recite the Hail Mary.
So I hatched a plan. An unauthorized plan neither provided for in our study guide nor sanctioned by the Vatican. But I thought it might be fun. At the beginning of class, I handed out paper and pencil and asked the class to imagine that the twelve of us (five kids were absent) had been stranded on a desert island. “Oh, Mr. Bull! You mean like Lost?!” “Exactly, J. Like Lost.”
Then I asked them to imagine that they had to come up with rules for living together, so that no one would get hurt and everyone would be happy. I asked each child to begin one rule with the word Always and a second rule with the word Never. Then I collected the papers and chose from their answers our class’s very own Ten Commandments:
- Always be nice.
- Never leave the group.
- Always sleep until at least nine o’clock.
- Never chew gum.
- Never steel [sic] from one another.
- Never pick your nose.
- Never kill anybody.
- Always take a shower with clothes on.
- Never go anywhere without a partner.
- Never eat the tiny fish.
We ended with a simple point. The real Ten C’s begin with three rules about God and one rule about our parents. I pointed out that none of the children’s rules mentioned God, mother, or father. Next week, we’ll see what they make of bearing false witness and coveting.
I love teaching this class.