Berryman: a beginning

There's so much else to talk about: why I still favor non-electronic or digital toys, even above ones that genuinely attract (command) attention, like the singing siddur (prayer book) which I've been hearing about again and again -- I am certainly open to debate on this though. We'll explore examples of toys and objects that accomplish, even to some degree, the sorts of things we're talking about here. Meet artists who are bravely creating these items, even though there doesn't seem to be much of a market for them yet (though I'm hoping this blog will help change that!). Learn from professionals who are working in arts education.

For right now though, I think the next stop is the question of what encouraging a child's natural sense of wonder involves. How do we foster a child's relationship with the spiritual, with God? What objects could invite conversations on the deepest questions of meaning in children's lives, and remind the adults around them to value those questions/conversations and take them seriously. Is it even feasible to have such lofty goals for an object? These aims are so subtly yet profoundly different from those of toys that will merely keep children occupied, or even transmit fundamental facts of religion or tradition. 

Kind of makes your brain hurt, right? Luckily for us there are wise teachers who have explored these questions. They will not mind if we stand on their shoulders. To begin, let us meet Jerome Berryman and Godly Play. 

Reverend Berryman, working within the Montessori educational model, developed the Godly Play method as a way of so fully immersing children in the language of religious tradition that they absorb it, enter into it, and can then use that language to help process their own individual encounter with God. This is then an encounter that is dynamic, a relationship that a child can grow with and into, as opposed to a fixed cache of content that one either believes or rejects. While Godly Play is framed in a Christian context, Berryman encourages the use of his basic ideas as a template for any faith to experiment with and build upon. (We are blessed, in fact, that another intrepid soul has done just that in a Jewish context -- Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire's Torah Godly Play will be discussed in due time!)

Friends, the hour is late, and I wish that I could just quote all of Berryman's words verbatim, they are just that insightful. We deserve a bit more sifting to clarify things for our purposes though, and so I say: more, tomorrow!