Year 7-9 Introduction
Identity formation takes place during these years as young people work out (sometimes struggle through) who they are, how/where they fit in, what their unique gifts and talents are and what they do/don’t want to believe. As they question, challenge, and search they reiterate: “I don’t know who I am or what I want to be”. In terms of faith development, Westerhoff calls this the stage of searching faith where adolescents question and internalise the things they have long been taught. Although this stage can be difficult for teachers, it is a prerequisite to move on to owned faith. “They are questioning and examining their beliefs, their lifestyle, their appearance, all authority, and anything they identify with, in an effort to define themselves. To know that the religion of the head is equal to the religion of the heart. This compels kids to ask searching questions that challenge the adult’s beliefs. They become critical of explanations that cannot be supported by logic, good sense and scientific enquiry. Adults needs to accept these questions without feeling threatened, working with the kids to find answers.”
In terms of moral development Kohlberg reminds us that young people in this age group are in transition between the stage of interpersonal conformity (where their actions and behaviours are shaped by social acceptance) and the stage of responsibility to the system (where they start to realise that there is a bigger society out there and that they have a responsibility to be part of and contribute to it). As a result of these developmental milestones, Biblical Foundations in Years 7 – 9 will thus focus on exploring questions about God, His word and His world, including a special focus on social justice issues like fairness and justice, and how students can start to take more responsibility for making a positive contribution to the world. Learning will mainly be through development of critical thinking skills (like questioning, challenging assumptions, debating, critiquing, reflecting) and through doing acts of service and mission.