Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to Teach in Sunday School by Theodore E. Schmauk


The more books I read from the early 1900's about and for the teaching of children, the more I am in awe of how dreadfully seriously our forefathers took pedagogy. The task of compiling Bible Histories, teacher training materials, etc. was entrusted to the leading men, if not the leading theologian, of the particular synod. While this is still true to a greater extent in the LCMS than most other Lutheran bodies, it is only a shadow of what was.

Kretzmann, Stellhorn, Koehler, Rupprecht, etc. were all top theologians that were heavily involved in and directed the educational direction of the Missouri Synod. If one surveys the Concordia Teachers' Training Series booklets from the first half of the 20th century, they were in large part written by seminary professors or well-respected parish pastors. J. M. Reu, the greatest theologian of the Iowa Synod, personally compiled their Bible History and many of their catechetical and educational resources. This same pattern can be seen again and again among the German, Scandinavian, and other Lutheran groups.

Turning to the General Council, and East Coast Lutheranism in general, Theodore Emmanuel Schmauk was the leading theologian among these Lutherans in the generation after Krauth. He was the President of the General Council, editor of the Lutheran Church Review, and served as a professor and in other important positions at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia. His most famous work is The Confessional Principle and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church (1911).

What is perhaps less well known, is that he was Professor of Pedagogy at the seminary in Philadelphia. He had a great personal influence on the pedagogy of the East Coast Lutherans through both the classroom and teacher training materials. He was the general editor of the General Council/ULCA's Graded Lutheran Sunday School Series, authoring some of the grade levels himself.

How to Teach in Sunday School (The United Lutheran Press, 1920) is an excellent practical how-to-teach book. (For the best theoretical book on Pedagogy of which I am aware, see Koehler's A Christian Pedagogy, which pairs well with this volume.) Schmauk only briefly touches upon different teaching philosophies, and is rather soft on the dangers of the newer ones, before progressing to the meat of the book--methods, approaches, and the nuts and bolts of teaching. The book swiftly moves one to purposefully consider his own teaching. Any serious reader of this volume will be forced to grow more self-reflective about his pedagogy. I consistently found myself saying to myself, "Great, I do that!" or "Oh, I should do that," and "Yeah, oops, I actually do that...all the time."

One can quickly see the breadth of subjects covered by perusing the Table of Contents, which I have included in the pictures below. Schmauk suggests using chapters 20-22 for a short Teacher Training Course, and adding 11-18 for a larger one. I personally found chapters 8 through 16 (pages 63-199) the most helpful as it is here where methods and tactics are considered in depth. Additionally, the inclusion of student-teacher verbatims is helpful for putting flesh on Schmauk's directions.

The book is available in print or free online.

Need to Get (Read) Level: 10/10

Considering that it is free to read online, and that every pastor must be "apt to teach," this is a must read for least chapters 8-16. However, if you are a layman, do not let yourself off the hook. The duty to raise up children in the fear of the Lord is primarily yours. The best effect this book can have on any Christian is that it makes one an intentional pedagogue working towards becoming a master at expressing and teaching the faith.






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