I looked at the craft section of the upcoming Sunday school lesson and groaned. Another lame project involving paper, safety scissors, crayons and glue. I pushed it all away with a sigh.
My daughter was in third-grade Sunday school and I thought it would be fun to teach her class. At our training, we were drilled on things like handling rowdy kids, appropriate behavior, snacks and–above all–the importance of adhering to The Guide. The latter was a weekly assortment of sanitized lesson plans that had probably been reviewed at the highest levels of Lutheran education. But it was exceedingly dull. The introduction, the lesson, the discussion questions, and finally, the craft…all hopelessly uninspiring. Every week, the kids yawned their way through the hour until their parents came to collect them.
One week, it was my turn and lesson was David and Goliath. The craft, as usual, was some insipid paper thing. It very poorly conveyed the drama of young shepherd boy facing a giant with a slingshot; good vs evil, bravery, faith.
I was doing yard work on Saturday and ruminating….man, how can I connect…? I noticed a limb that I was taking to the curb had a Y-shaped section. Hmm….sudden inspiration.
I am the better-to-beg-forgiveness type and rashly decided to ignore The Guide. I cut 20 other limbs into Y sections; I cracked hickory nuts in half and drilled holes in them. I went to the crafts store and bought a spool of elastic fabric. I was loaded for bear.
Sunday morning came, I taught the kids the lesson on David and Goliath. We had the usual lackluster discussion, then came craft time. Kids, dulI, yeah yeah, here we go with the coloring and cutting. I reached into my brown shopping bag and brought forth my materials. The kids were instantly attentive, as were my three teacher friends, who rapidly and in some alarm thumbed through The Guide, trying to find where tree limbs and elastic fabric were mentioned.
In short order, we had 20 slingshots built and in production, kids putting wads of paper in the walnut-shell slings, shooting each other, the class walls, the ceiling. Impromptu re-enactments of the battle followed with howls of laughter and delight. I could see other teachers peeping through the door window to see what was going on in the third grade classroom. My fellow teachers came up to me in concern: Hey, where did you get this stuff….? Was this in the Guide? Parents start arriving to collect kids with decidedly mixed reactions; slingshots being examined with interest and scowls.
The following Wednesday, all Sunday-school teachers received a terse email from the Education Coordinator with the entire church staff copied. Without mentioning names, it said “It has come to out attention that one of our Educators diverged greatly from the approved craft as outlined in The Guide….we must insist that all educators adhere to the The Guide due to” bwah bwah bwah.
The next Sunday, I was like a NFL kick receiver calling for a fair catch, a circle of exclusion, a pariah shunned at least briefly by the other teachers. My three co-teachers looked at me with a curious mixture of intrigue but also wariness for defying The Guide and its inviolate precepts. But the kids looked at me with a new appreciation.
For me, it was worth it. I begged forgiveness with a straight face, but seeing my kids slaying giants…the walls, Goliath, Concerned Parents, the Education Coordinator, The Guide…I knew my lesson would be remembered.