Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Godly Play Trainers' Training: Part 3

I finally have some pictures to from our time at the Godly Play Trainers' Training in Holland to share with you, thanks to Satu Reinikainin, one of my fellow trainees from Finland!

We stayed in a guest house at this lovely cloister in Maarsen, Holland.
Front Row: Andrea (England), Satu (Finland), Rachel (England/Germany), Peter  & Rosemany Privett, Rebecca Nye
Back Row: Sian (England), me, Christie (Holland), Trinette (Holland), Anita (Latvia), Jacolean (Holland), Mari (Finland), Katie (Belgium), An (Belgium)

One of the first tasks that Peter and Rebecca, our trainers, gave us was to
unload all of the GP materials and figure out how to best arrange them in the room.
Core Trainings aren't always in ideal settings, so this was a very practical activity.

Peter sharing how to do the Trinity Synthesis, which many of us had
no experience with. The Synthesis stories are only done with
children who are thoroughly familiar with all of the core stories. 

Background work in Children's Spirituality

As promised, here is my third installment about what we did in Holland. (See Training another Storyteller and Storytelling and being trained by a peer for the first two parts.) We spend one third of our time delving into the theory and theology of children's spirituality. Without some background in this area, many things about Godly Play either don't make sense or don't serve the child in the ways they should. Since the field in a Christian context is relatively new, there are very few experts and we are all in a learning process together.

Part of our preparation for the training was to read and present material on children's spirituality to our fellow trainees. We were specifically told not to simply regurgitate the material in a lecture-style, but to choose the most important things and present them in a creative manner. 

Everyone was so creative and inspiring in the way that they chose to present the information. Far from being dry and theoretical, each presentation came to life through the personalities and teaching styles of each participant.

In the picture above, Jacolean and Christie are sharing with us about "Being in Parables with Children". They pulled their main points out of parable box and relayed the information as if they were telling a parable themselves. (And perhaps they were!) Then, they gave us an opportunity to respond by placing objects in the room next to the particular point that had stuck with us. 

The phrase that stuck with me the most that I have since done a lot of silent wondering about is  that "parables are at the edge of language". Simply hearing and repeating the words of a biblical parable will get you nowhere. Art and play can take us beyond words in order to gain deeper understanding. 

Rachel, who lives in Munich, and I teamed up to present two chapters in a book from Jerome Berryman entitled, "Clearing the Way for Grace". In a nutshell, Berryman uses attachment theory to assert that just as a healthy child forms a healthy attachment to its parents, a child will also form a healthy attachment to the church as an institution if he/she experiences an open, accepting, loving atmosphere in the formative years. Dysfunction comes in as a result of ambivalence and indifference towards children. Berryman then challenges the reader to think of the child as a living sacrament. 

We chose to illustrate the ambivalence and indifference towards children in the church's history by dividing our fellow trainees into small groups and giving each group cards, upon which the quotations of various theologians' views of children were written. The group had about 5 minutes to sort the cards into "yes", "no" or "maybe" piles, depending on their opinion of the quote. 

After giving a little more background information and sharing Berryman's challenge to think of the child as a sacrament, we passed around slips of paper with the sacraments written on them and challenged each person to consider how a child could be more involved in the sacrament they drew. 

And at the end of our presentation, we passed around small stones and markers and encouraged each person to take a stone and write a word or draw a picture as a reminder of what they wanted to take with them from this topic. 

Mari and Satu did a presentation on laughter in religious education. (Most people don't make a connection between religion and laughter, so I especially loved this topic!) Sean and Andrea spoke about the existential boundaries that we deal with in Godly Play. Trinette and Anita helped us to think more about the language of silence in religious education. And finally, Katie and An shared about "Children and Mature Spirituality". 

We are supposed to write up our presentations and send them to each other. So when I get the information, I'll write more on these things!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't quite figure out how to string my thoughts together, so here's a list instead (:

    1. I have always considered the damage done to the future relationships of children as grown adults with the Lord due to the abuse (either physical or false theological) of them At Church

    2. I have always taken the spiritual growing, thinking, needs, etc, etc, etc, of children in church as important -- but only because that's the way I think about people in general -- not because of any idea of this impacting their future ability to relate to God

    3. It seems so obvious now that you've pointed it out, but something I've never thought about until you did -- it is not only abuse, it is also Indifference or Ambivalence to children that hurts their hearts and makes it harder to open the door as He knocks.

    Thank you!