Young people are not disinterested
Education has never been an easy task and every era has had its challenges – until today. This was the topic of the panel discussion with state parliament president barbara stamm in the riedenberg church on the subject of "education in the field of tension between christian values and the realities of life clearly. The event was deliberately held in the church as part of the art project "tracks to light were held under the cross of light, with the aim of passing on the christian faith and its values to future generations.
In addition to the president of the state parliament, the rector of the elementary and secondary school in wildflecken, christiane helfrich, and the regional youth chaplain, roland pietryga, of bad kissingen, were speaking partners of bernhard hopf, lecturer for liturgy and liturgical education of the diocese of wurzburg, who had taken over the moderation.
Many questions were raised and a lot of space was given to the analysis of the current situation in families, schools and society. Is christianity still wanted at all?? What role does it play in today’s society, or rather in the rhon? How is christian faith experienced and present in schools, youth work and politics?? What role religion will play in education in syncretic times?
Wildflecken’s principal gave a very practical account of the joint religious instruction given to schoolchildren of different denominations. She does not experience a division based on religiousness in everyday life, but rather an open-mindedness and openness. Christian schoolchildren learn from muslim schoolchildren how they often live their faith more actively. "The foreign awakens curiosity about one’s own faith", says helfrich.
It became very personal and concrete when the panel guests, who come from three generations, were asked how they currently perceive education and what suggestions they see from their fields of activity: school, youth work and politics. Barbara stamm spoke of the romanticism of camps and campfires of the past and asked people to focus on what connects them and what they have already achieved, and not on what is not there, what is missing or what divides them. "We have many great padagogues, who cope with many challenges." She also made it clear that the question of authority is not outdated, but that respect, decency and appreciation are still important and valuable virtues today. Witnesses from the 1960s to the 1990s spoke about their experiences with the church and the challenges they faced as a result of the youth work that was booming at the time. It is still important today to create meeting places so that youth work can succeed. All three participants in the discussion attach great importance to contact with parents, who on the one hand play an important role in the rural area in terms of mobility, but on the other hand are also required to make their children aware of offers from the church and the community. The discussion quickly turned to the role of parents in education. The principal spoke in a very diplomatic way of very "self-confident parents", who see only their own actions as right for their child. In the past, the village played a part in education and demanded respect and courtesy, but this is hardly the case today. "Parents have a high standard of individual education and forbid interference." She spoke of a two-class society, of parents who are very eager, willing to learn and open, but also of parents who place less value on communication, be it with their own children or with the school and educators. But the teaching of values must begin in the parental home and cannot be handed over to schools and kindergartens.
How can the church reach children and young people?? In response to this question, there was widespread regret that many pastors no longer teach religious education in their congregations and thus lose the opportunity for a direct connection. "The church must stay in place, said barbara stamm, but also showed understanding for the overburdening of the clergy by administrative tasks. In this context she demanded the diaconate for women. "How long do we have to discuss? Just because one is then afraid that women want to become priests?" The assumption that young people are not interested was contradicted by the audience. "Young people are interested. The question is whether we are focusing on the right topics", says barbara stamm. Roland pietryga gave many practical examples from the work of the regional office for church youth work, such as youth services with music and texts from the real lives of young people. It must be clear that the time of the folk church is over and it is problematic if people continue to think in these old categories. "A service can be successful even if the church is not full, even if there are only ten or fifteen participants." Roland pietryga was important to conclude: "even if the young people are not present in the church, they are searching for meaning." To perceive them as seekers and questioners and to offer a community that carries them through everyday life, that is the task for the future.