The school that I am working in is a Catholic Charter school here in Granada. I was excited to have the chance to work in a school with a religious affiliation since I have only worked in public schools in the past. So far I have really enjoyed observing the Catholic social teaching lessons and have found them to be very beneficial and engaging for the students. Every morning the students begin the day singing a song that they have learned already with music. The students love to sing, don't get embarrassed, and the majority put in a lot of effort into the songs. The sounds are catchy and simple, and either speak about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in general. Then my teacher reads a short story that has a moral lesson. She asks questions to the students and they are often given a quiet moment to sit and reflect on what they would do in the situation before they discuss the story. The discussions are the most interactive learning that I observe during the time I am in the class and the teacher really seems to enjoy teaching them. Afterwards, the students are given a chance to say out loud what they are thankful for or ask God to help them with something. Then they are learning the Our Father in English, so I say each line and they repeat afterwards. Then the lesson concludes with another song.
The stories vary greatly and therefore include a wide range of opportunities for different social teaching. Stories in the past have been about growing up and becoming your fullest potential, even though it might not quite be what you expected, about how everyone is loved and how to show your love to others, forgiving, how to be a caring person, etc. Sometimes the stories are not necessarily religious, but are incorporated into the lessons. Today for example, the teacher read a story about a boy who started to read books without pictures and fell in love with the book (yesterday was national book day here in Spain). She then proceeded to ask the students what they were thankful for in relation to the story - a few children raised their hands and said "Gracias a Jesus por los libros". The teacher then encouraged deeper thinking and proceeded to explain how we should all be thankful for being able to read because everyone in the class had the ability to do so. She explained how we can be thankful for our ability to see, because there are people in the world who are blind and can't read books like the ones the students have. She explained how we can be thankful that we can go to school to learn to read, because they are children in the world who cannot go to school because they have to start working when they are very young to support their families. Also that we can be thankful that our parents can afford to buy books for us to read, because a lot of parents cannot afford to buy books for their family. The students really reflected on these ideas, and I thought that it was a wonderful way to learn to be grateful for what they have been given but also to be concious about others who may not be as fortunate. I believe that these lessons are very important for all students and are very easy to teach in a Catholic school with Jesus as a model for the students in how they should act. I wonder how this type of teaching can be converted into a secular setting and whether or not it would be as effective. I think that often in the U.S. (or at least the classrooms that I have been in) moral lessons are taught implicitly through the books that teachers select for their students to read. However, I think that this explicit way of discussing how to be a caring person is worthwhile.