Religious Education And The Tradition Of Sunday School
Religion is largely based upon personal experiences of the metaphysical realm. One originally becomes concerned with a Higher Power because of some sort of phenomenon or occurrence which simply cannot be explained by logic or reason. When one begins asking questions about the Higher Power or the spirit realm, one immediately begins seeking the answers to those questions.
Thus, although religion may be based on the individual and his or her personal experiences, it is largely propagated through knowledge and instruction. One of the key methods of religious education, especially within the Christian religion, is through Sunday school.
The concept began in England in the 1700s and was the result of religious revivals taking place all throughout the world. Some say it was Roman Catholicism that started the first school while others claim Protestantism began the tradition. While the origins of the institution may be somewhat unclear, it is universally accepted that the tradition began with Christianity.
Before the days of public schooling when education was for the wealthy upper class, crime and poverty permeated the poorer districts of society. A journalist named Robert Raikes observed this desperate situation and opened a public school that operated on Sundays, which was the only day that many children had off of work from the factories and other such employers. Their textbook was the Bible, but it was used to teach secular subjects as well as religious ones. Over the next century, similar schools began to spring up all over Europe and throughout America, with millions of children in weekly attendance worldwide.
Today such schools are almost exclusively for the purpose of teaching religious doctrine. Other religions, such as Judaism, have come to use the term Sunday school to refer to their religious education, while Catholicism mostly refers to it as Catechism class. Religion has remained a powerful force in the world largely because of the institution.
As the dynamics of society continue to change and evolve all over the world, religion will change and evolve, as will its methods of instructing and handing down tradition and doctrine to future generations. Presently, Sunday school remains a firm pillar of religion; it remains a long-standing tradition and a beacon of hope for many, offering a safe haven in a world of crime, poverty, negativity, and violence. Like the world in which the institution began, Sunday remains for many people the only day to devote to religious study and fellowship with like-minded believers. For these reasons and more, the institution will more than likely be around for years to come.