Fall 1964

Page 120

236 Chicago Slllllie•

several information centers indicates that only 3 percent of their converts are over fifty years of age and that most converts instructed at the center were in their thirties. A master's thesis based on in-depth interviews with horn Catholics and converts indicates that the only common factor hetween many people who practice their faith and those who do not is regularity in church attendance or lack of it by the parents of the people interviewed. What these unrelated facts or seeming facts indicate is hard to say. But if we had many more studies we would gradually see which factors in American life aid and which hinder conversion. The¡ method of instruction. Because we priests learned our theology by the lecture method we tend to rely on this method in giving instructions. We talk and the people listen. At most we allow the people to ask questions which are quickly and neatly answered. Yet all studies indicate that the lecture method is the least effective of all teaching methods, when one is trying to help a person change his ideas or come to a decision. Studies have been made to discover the most effective methods of helping people to learn and to apply to their lives what they have learned. Little or nothing has been done to apply these techniques to religious instructions. Father Anti, O.F.M., has tried to apply the new so-called "machine" learning technique to the catechism in his hook, God So Loved the World, a programmed instruction book based on the Baltimore Catechism and the German Catechism. More experiments need to he made. Htindreds of priests have been trained in non-directive counselling and many of them are using the techniques they have learned in their instruction classes. A lay instructor of adults on the West Coast reports fabulous success in using discussion groups among people taking instructions. But an instruction class is more than a counselling session and the group discussion method is not effective in giving new information. An effort must be made to find the best way of combining counselling, discussion, and lecture. Some efforts are being made in the audio-visual field, but the available material is not as good as that used by commercial firms in selling their products, nor is it as good as some of the new Protestant material. The United