Monday, March 11, 2013

What we can leave out and still have everything we need?

One of the typical "Wondering" questions at the end of Godly Play stories is "What can we leave out and still have everything we need for the story?".  This is a question that often makes people that are new to Godly Play nervous want to turn tail and run. At a superficial glance, it would appear that the question is saying that some part of the Bible isn't important. It's not suggesting that at all. Rather the question is training young minds to understand and use a very important educational principle: sorting through and prioritizing information. 

Each day our minds are overloaded with information, be it from face-to-face communication, internet, magazines, books or other forms of media. We cannot possibly absorb all the information, nor should we. Instead, we make choices to remember and hold onto the most important things. 

And each time we read a portion of the Bible or hear a sermon, we come away with only a fraction of what we read or what was said. We hold onto what we resonated with us the most. In a similar way, this Wondering question helps children begin to focus on what is important to them at their particular stage of life and what God may be speaking to them at that particular moment. 

And sometimes thinking about what we can leave out and still have everything we need leads to a remarkable insight. The picture below shows a nine-year-old boy's response during "The Lord's Prayer" story at Easter Club last week. The two arches have "Our Father in heaven" and "Then yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever". In the middle were the different requests such as "Give us this day our daily bread".  When asked what we could leave out and still have everything we need, the boy removed all the requests except for "Your kingdom come". I realized at that moment that he was right. All of the other requests were wrapped up in this one. When God's kingdom comes, all of the other requests will have been answered. 

This child decided that "Your kingdom come"was the most important
part of the Lord's Prayer by choosing to "leave out" the
other parts of the prayer. 
David Pritchard, a Godly Play Trainer in Spain and member of the  GP International Advisory Board, has written the best article that I have ever read on this subject here (and he states his case much more eloquently than I do!).

Jill, a Godly Play storyteller in North Carolina for over 20 years, named her blog, "What can we leave out . . . and still have all we need for the story?" She writes a lot about how this question has helped her as an adult to keep her perfectionistic nature in check so that she can get more done.: ) 

Learning to ask ourselves what we can leave out is a life skill that we all need, and one that we most certainly should pass onto our children. 

 . . . . . . . 

In der Godly Play-Religionspädagogik gibt es immer nach der Geschichte ein Ergründungsgespräch. Eine typische Frage in diesem Gespräch lautet: Was können wir hier weglassen und trotzdem alles haben, was wir an der Geschichte brauchen?

Hinter dieser Frage steht ein wichtiges, pädagogisches Prinzip: die Fähigkeit einzuordnen und priorisieren. Man wird jeden Tag mit einer Menge von Information überladen und müsste entscheiden können, was in Erinnerung zu behalten ist.  Dadurch kommen auch wichtige Einblicke.

Oben hat ein Kind nach der "Vater Unser" Geschichte in der OsterAG entschieden, alle Bitten außer "Dein Reich komme" wegzulassen. Ich müsste ihm Recht geben. Wenn diese Bitte in Erfüllung kommen würde, wären all die anderen Bitte auch erfüllt. Da habe ich auch etwas gelernt. : )


  1. I never though of that question in that perspective! Definitely, GP isn't only for children. Learning to leave out bits of house cleaning now)))

  2. And I love the nine year old's response!