by Catherine Maresca
CCTheo opened in 1995 with a vision to explore the intersection of the church, children, and theology. This is best done right in the atrium with the children themselves. For 60 years Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi modeled this exploration. They painstakingly prepared materials for children that embody the Scriptures and liturgies of our faith, then created the space for the children to teach the adults how to serve their faith well, and reveal the gifts they had to offer adults.
This time of exploration is not over! Part of our ongoing work in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is to continue the observation of children, learning all we can from them about their theology, and our own as well.
But who has time for this research? Or training? Or a place to share what we learn? CCTheo is introducing the Catechist Action Research Alliance (CARA) this fall to meet this challenging need. Action Research is used in education (including Montessori) and happens right in the classroom. Teachers bring to their research the very practical questions that arise at work, then make and execute a plan to observe and assess proposed answers to those questions.
Dr. John Chattin-McNichols, of the E. M. Standing Center for Montessori Studies at Seattle University is adapting this model for catechists in the atrium. November 9-11, 2018 he will lead a 3-day introduction to Action Research and help us make plans to explore our particular questions. We will reconvene October 1-3, 2019, to asses our observations, prepare summaries of our work, and share our findings with one another. Some of these findings will be presented at Weaving Our Gifts, October 3-6, 2019. All summaries of our work will be available at CCTheo.org to create an ongoing documentation of this research.
It is my hope that this initiative will develop within the catechesis community a means for planned and careful research to be used as CGS moves into the future. Maria Montessori’s practical life shelves started with a work for buttonhooks, that have since been replaced by Velcro dressing frames. Change is inevitable, but steps must be taken to ensure that changes are thoughtful and positive. We need to have the capacity to adapt CGS materials as carefully as Sofia and Gianna adapted Montessori’s original religious materials after her death. The Catechesis will continue to develop, and we must be as painstakingly conscientious about that development as they were.
CARA has the capacity to be a blessing for many catechists. We have a pool of interested researchers whose work will hopefully reach and nurture many atria.
In a very literal way this research is CCT in Context. Let’s learn to do this well and tend to the legacy of Sofia and Gianna in a way that honors their work and moves into the future with confidence.