Some of the best parts of attending a conference like the Religious Education Association (REA) annual conference are the informal conversations.
During one of yesterday’s plenary sessions, I realized I was sitting a couple of rows behind Bob Pazmino, perhaps my most important religious education mentor, especially given his focus on the practice of teaching. I looked for Bob during one of the breaks, and even though I hadn’t been his student since 1999, he still remembered me. We had a good long talk, and I got to hear about his grandchildren, and his research, and so on. And, like a good mentor, he drew me out on some of the challenges I’m facing in my praxis as a religious educator, and helped me to see how when educating for social justice in a predominantly white, predominantly middle class community, one has to be aware of the possible shame that such education can generate among people who are relatively well-off. And awareness of the possibility of shame should, of course, affects one’s pedagogical strategies.
During the annual meeting, someone brought up the point that this conference was heavily tilted towards the interests of scholars, rather than practitioners. (I wrote down his name, but unfortunately lost that slip of paper.) I grabbed him after the meeting, and speaking as a practitioner myself, thanked him for raising that point. Chuck Chesnavage came up and said much the same thing. We floated the idea of some kind of practitioner’s meeting at the next conference.
Finally, in several informal conversations I got lots of recommendations for books and resources and ideas I should follow up on. Here are some of them:
— Book: Practicing Discernment with Youth, by Dan White
— Resource: Association for Practical Theology
— Books: in relation to practical theology, Mary McClintock Fulkerson’s work
— Idea: Elizabeth Caldwell had children retell and illustrate Bible stories, which she then published in book form using online self-publishing tools
— Book: Practical Theology and Qualitative Research by John Swinton and Harriet Mowat