Dear members and friends,
After much discussion with parents, teachers, children, and Rev. Karen, I have decided to implement a new curriculum for all grades. Starting Sunday, January 24th, we will begin using a social action based curriculum called “Harry & UU.” As you may have guessed, this curriculum is based on J.K. Rowling’s very popular series of books. (It will not be an impediment to participation if you (or your child) have not read them.) It is my feeling that the Harry Potter series, and the activities in this curriculum, are an excellent reflection of Unitarian Universalism’s seven principles and also tie directly into our vision statement. From the curriculum:
“Most parents believe that it’s important to instill social responsibility in their children, but it can be difficult to find meaningful sources or projects for children in to become involved. In addition, many social action projects are not relevant to children and a lack of relation can lead to a lack of engagement. There are many reasons why it’s good for tween- age children to participate in social action projects:
- Most children have a natural desire to be fair and to right wrongs, and social action reinforces this desire.
- Involvement now is more likely to lead to involvement later; children will likely feel more motivation to take action in the future.
- Learning to work together to achieve a goal allows one to feel empowered.
- Taking action alleviates feelings of helplessness. Children learn that they can achieve results on their own.
- Working to better the community and the world leads to higher moral development and more defined citizenship skills.
The question then becomes how to empower children to become more motivated, passionate about, and engaged in social action. Children require activities and discussion that immerse them, engage them, and allow them to become passionate about what they are learning.
The Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling are an excellent way to immerse children in the idea that one can work to make the world better. These books offer important moral and social values for children, guiding them toward making the right choices. Lessons provided include dealing with bullies, finding friends, and channeling disabilities to find empowerment.
Use of the books can offer the chance for students to ponder hard questions.
- What does power mean?
- How can someone make a choice that seems impossible?
- Is violence ever justified?
Readers can consider their experiences, values, and beliefs to find the answers. In this way, Harry Potter can provide spiritual and moral guidance as well as entertainment.
Harry Potter, like other pop culture, can also allow children to discuss important social issues with peers. Talking about sensitive issues with peers can be daunting, particularly if the child lives and goes to school in a conservative atmosphere and knows that his/ her viewpoint is not shared by a majority of his/ her peers. Referencing a Harry Potter book or movie can help children express their opinions to others.
This curriculum seeks to help participants learn that change is possible through multiple avenues, and can happen whether the problem is local or worldwide. Students will have the opportunity to make a difference in their community and the world in a meaningful way through hands-on projects that will also teach them social responsibility.”
During the remainder of the church year, the children will all work together as a brand new house at Hogwarts to stand against seven social action “horcruxes:”
- The Illiteracy Horcrux
- The Hunger Horcrux
- The Poverty Horcrux
- The Child Slavery Horcrux
- The Sickness Horcrux
- The Animal Cruelty Horcrux
- The Environmental Horcrux
It is my great hope that this change will increase student enthusiasm/attendance, volunteer participation, and introduce a wider variety of ways to incorporate the RE program into the life of the church community as a whole since, as the late Albus Dumbledore so wisely stated, "We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided."
In the next few weeks I will be providing more details on the class/lesson structure and plans to implement the changes. In the meantime, the need for willing professors to teach at Hogwarts is an immediate one so let me know if you are a willing witch or wizard. If you have any questions or concerns about this upcoming change, please contact me as soon as possible. I am always happy to connect with you and will do my best to keep everyone informed moving forward.
Yours In Service,
I would like to thank our November volunteers and Coming of Age classroom assistants for their time and efforts over the past month: April A, Jenn B, Allison C, Chris G, Jamie H, Katie J, Connie M, Marie Ps, Lynne S, Hailey S, Steve S, Chad S, Carlotta S, Michele W, and Laures Y. We could not have held things together without your concerted efforts during this tumultuous month.
Due to low attendance levels, the RE Committee decided at their last meeting to combine the Preschool/Kindergarten classroom with the 1st – 3rd grade room. This decision has, to a certain extent, mitigated our continued lack of teaching volunteers (though we are still in need of more) and guaranteed that teachers who planned a lesson would have students in their classroom to teach.
One of the projects the children did in RE this month was based on Rev. Karen’s reading of The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, written by Judith Viorst, during the November 1st service. Grades preschool to third worked together to create a list of good things about Christine Spiritwolf to be shared at her memorial service and I would like to share with you here what they came up with, as they quickly exceeded ten. It’s clear from their feedback that I have a lot to live up to!
- Fun lessons
- Good person
- Environmentally friendly
- Made memories with us
- Always smiling
- Good teacher
- Super nice
- Total optimist
- Encourages others