Whenever I’m preparing to give a presentation and there’s some trouble with the projector or laptop or other technology, I jokingly ask those assisting me, “How did Aquinas survive without AV resources?” Of course, he and other great teachers did just fine without them! That doesn’t change the fact that, today, technology provides us with a myriad of ways to enhance our presentation of the Gospel and that most people—especially young people—are accustomed to accessing information through technology.
A good test of whether or not you are using technology or audiovisual resources in a pedagogically sound manner is to ask yourself, “What would happen if the AV resource broke down or didn’t ‘show up’?” Would you be able to proceed? No doubt Aquinas would have no problem proceeding! While none of us compare to him or other great teachers of our Catholic faith, the fact remains that the message of the Gospel is ultimately contained in human hearts and transmitted through human interaction and relationships.
Years ago, I was asked to facilitate an eighth-grade Confirmation retreat day, so I planned an entire day that relied totally on the use of a number of video segments to engage the young people. Lo and behold, the very first clip I tried to show was “eaten alive” by the VCR, thus destroying the tape and the only machine available as well. I was faced with engaging 40 pre-teens for the next five hours without the benefit of the video clips I had planned to use throughout the day! Somehow, I was able to forge my way through and make adjustments to carry on despite the lack of any “bells and whistles,” and the day turned out well—thanks to the Holy Spirit!
The bottom line is, any audiovisual resource that we integrate into our lessons should serve to enhance our efforts and not replace us catechists. This is why it is still of the utmost importance to ensure that we are fully formed catechists, capable of expressing in our own words what the Catholic faith means to us and how it can speak to those we teach. We must never allow ourselves as catechists to relax or “get lazy” because we have AV resources that can “fill up time” in our lessons. If anything, using an AV resource should raise the bar and compel us to dig even deeper to find ways to engage those we teach in follow-up activities that require students to do something with what they have just viewed.
God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist incorporates audiovisual resources in meaningful ways. Learn more about the CDs with music, guided reflections, and Scripture stories, and the God’s Gift DVD series, which includes chapter-by-chapter tracks and video tutorials that help children take to heart prayers and practices of our faith.