Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sacraments Course design, part 4

This is based on UbD's chapter 6, "Crafting Understandigns".

I have "Big Ideas" and "Essential Questions". Now I need to establish the basic understandings I want the students to come away with. Here are the qualities of "understandings":

  • important inference, drawn from the experience of experts, stated as a specific and useful generalization
  • transferable, big ideas having enduring value beyond a specific topic
  • abstract, counterintuitive, easily misunderstood ideas
  • best acquired by "uncovering" and "doing" the subject (using ideas in realistic settings and with real-world problems)
  • summarizes important strategic principles in skill areas

UbD also adds:

  • has endured over time and across cultures because it has proven so important and useful.
  • endures in the mind of the student because it will help the student make sense of the content and it will enable transference of the key ideas.

Understandings are also topical and overarching. Again, they should be small in number; I will use the 2-5 standard again.

Step 1: Mindful of my B.I.s and E.Q.s, what are some "understandings" that I want students to walk away with?

I should be mindful of student misunderstandings. Some of these might be:

  • A mystery is something we can know nothing about and do not question.
  • Paradoxes are contradictions.
  • Love is never angry; it does not punish; it does not set boundaries to freedom.
  • God desires our love out of personal need.
  • Jesus saves us by receiving the punishment that we deserved for our sins.
  • The Church is primarily a group of people who agree that Jesus is God.

Using a design tool included in the text, I come up with the following. Students should understand that:

  • Mysteries are "beyond us" only in the sense that we can never be "finished" learning about them; they are not unsolvable problems, but realities to be loved and served; they cannot be mastered or controlled. Human beings are mysteries.
  • Paradoxes prevent us from treating a mystery like a problem by denying our minds easy ideas to work with, but they also invite us into a deeper understanding through meditation.
  • The doctrine that "God is Love" is illuminated by recognizing (a) patterns in the way he acts as revealed in nature, Scripture, Jesus Christ, and tradition and (b) the way "love" unfolds in my life.
  • The Paschal Mystery has been popularly understood to save us in numerous different ways throughout Christian history, no one of which is the absolute explanation.
  • Christ instituted the Church to be the visible continuation of his presence, love, and power; and to be the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is both already, and not yet here, as can be observed in the Church's characteristics and history.

OK, this is too much. I need to narrow these down to four.

  1. Mysteries and paradoxes help us to respect life realities that are misunderstood when they are treated like problems requiring solutions.
  2. Love is illuminated by recognizing (a) the concrete ways love manifests in my life, and (b) patterns in the way God acts as revealed in nature, Scripture, Jesus Christ, and Tradition.
  3. The Paschal Mystery has been subject to various competing and complimentary understandings throughout Christian history.
  4. The Church is the continuation on Earth of Jesus' presence, love, and salvation embodied by a visible, organic community of graced sinners; as such it has both a human and a divine dimension.

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