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Let me start by saying, I love the catechism. I think it’s important to teach ALL children and adults, including those in special education, the tenets of the faith laid out in Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. But I must confess, my first reaction to this new explanation was this: “Whoa, that’s a lot of print! Anyone who has trouble with reading or learning English or being easily overwhelmed is just going to throw this thing aside or across the room.” Kind of like a person in a wheelchair sitting at the bottom of the US Capital steps thinking, “It’s all well and good in there, but I can’t get up those steps to get in that place. See ya later.”
But wait, just because that grand hill of steps is on one side of the U. S. Capital, that does not mean it’s the only way in the building. While it’s great for a photo op or press interview backdrop, I suspect that the average senator, representative, or intern rarely goes into the building by using those long, steep, albeit beautiful, steps. And once you’re in the building, there are all sorts of ways that the building and what’s inside is made more accessible to everyone; it even has subways going between buildings.
I know this new explanation looks grand but awfully formidable. Granted, there are many, many words inside and many, many pages. If you’re involved in special education, don’t let that stop you. There are many, many rooms in the U.S. Capital, and each one holds a special history and story worth checking out. But you can’t learn all of the building’s intricacies and treasures in just one day. It takes a good tour guide and lots and lots of time investigating and digging to really know this building at the center of our democracy. The same can be said of this new explanation. What you need is a good tour guide (such as your pastor or DCE) and plenty of time and patience to really dig in and discover the many treasures waiting inside.
Yes, you’ll need to break it down into manageable pieces. You may have to help students learn new and abstract vocabulary. You will likely need to find some creative and engaging ways to get around its enormity, but isn’t that what good teachers do anyway? It’s important for all students to know what we believe, and that’s the gift of this book. That doesn’t mean they have to memorize every question or Bible verse.
Don’t abandon going in the building just because the steps are so looming. You can find a way into the building without those steps, just as you can find a way into this new explanation of the catechism without letting its size overwhelm you.
My reaction to this new explanation of the Small Catechism is still, “Whoa, that’s a lot of print and a lot of pages.” But, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. As a special education teacher, don’t miss out on any of it—just approach it one manageable piece at a time.
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