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Learning from Christianity through Godly Play

BLACK, DOMINIC,PAUL (2021) Learning from Christianity through Godly Play. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this thesis I argue that Godly Play, a Montessori-inspired form of Christian Catechesis, is a theologically and pedagogically well-founded method that with appropriate care can be used with integrity to assist children to learn from Christianity in the context of English primary schools.
I examine the history and development of Godly Play exploring the theological shape of the method through the principal theological themes underlying the method: Imagination, Play, Salvation History and Narrative Theology. I identify some of the potential theological questions its adoption raises, particularly in relation to salvation history and treatment of eschatology. Further, I argue for the theological importance of childhood and examine what is meant by children’s spirituality which Godly Play is often quoted as contributing towards.
Godly Play has sometimes been seen a middle-class phenomenon. The empirical field work of group interviews conducted with thirty-two children growing up in two low-income urban communities in Northern England demonstrated the ongoing value of the experience of Godly Play. I examine something of what it means to grow up in such contexts and how Godly Play has helped children growing up in such contexts. The children, who had experienced Godly Play in near ideal conditions, showed a high degree of recall, for some three to four years later, describing the enduring positive impact it had upon them. Many found a sense of freedom and self-expression through Godly Play that had helped many to express their own opinions and make their own decisions. For some, it had led them into a deeper devotional place. I argue for the educational and ethical appropriateness of Godly Play in the context of English state education and call on the Church of England to engage more seriously with child catechesis, commending Godly Play as an effective method for school and parish.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Keywords:Godly Play, Catechesis, Montessori, Religious Education, Christian Education
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Jul 2022 11:51

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