Testing Ronald Goldman's theory of children's religious thinking and learning at three primary chools in Lusaka district

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Njobvu, Maligelita J.
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The University of Zambia
The study sought to test Ronald Goldman's theory of children's’ religious thinking in Zambian context with particular attention to the methods of teaching, materials used and content for Primary school Religious Education. Goldmans’ theory is a “no Bible teaching” to children under the age of 13 because concrete operational stage children struggle to comprehend Biblical concepts. Therefore, the objectives of the study were: to test Ronald Goldman’s theory on children’s religious thinking in Zambia, to explore the methods used in teaching and learning of primary school Religious Education, to examine the relevance of content for primary school Religious Education children, to assess the appropriateness of materials used to teach primary school Religious Education The study was underpinned by Piagets’ (1979) cognitive development and Fowlers’(1981) faith development theories which state that children between the age of 7and13 are in the concrete operational stage, hence abstract teaching cannot be used to solve concrete events or objects. The study used the case study design which employed the qualitative strategy. The methods of data collection included semi-structured interviews, lesson observations, focus group discussion guide, and document analysis checklist, respectively. The target population included all teachers and pupils of RE in the selected primary schools and the RE Curriculum Specialist from CDC. Typical purposive sampling procedure was used to select 1 Religious Education curriculum specialist, 3 headteachers, 6 teachers and 30 pupils as respondents. Data was analysed according to emerging themes which generally answered the research objectives. Major findings indicate that Primary school children struggle to comprehend biblical issues. The teacher-centered methods of teaching the subject are inappropriate. The content is advanced with abstract Biblical quotations. The study also revealed that the materials used to teach the subject are abstract and are inappropriate for children. Such findings have not support Goldman’s theory of children’s religious thinking which advocated for learner-centered methods of teaching, purely life-themed approach to the content and of course concrete materials for teaching young children. Therefore, the study recommends that MESVTEE should further revise the curriculum so that it should meet the needs of young children as recommended by Goldman’s’ theory of children’s religious thinking. If that is done, then holistic learning of the subject will be achieved.
Christian education--Psychology , Cognition in children