Professor W A Landman

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The school is able to make a meaningful contribution to the religious development of the child and should indeed do so. This is achieved by means of religious education by expert teachers, especially through

  1. religious instruction, which is a compulsory component in their training, and

  2. subject teaching by which the objective set out in the National Education Policy Act,. 1967 (Act 39 of 1967) viz. that education should be Christian in character, is realised.

For religious education to contribute to a child's becoming adult, it should especially promote the following:


The child should trust the religious instruction teacher. The horizontal relationship of trust serves as the basis for a vertical relationship of trust and should evince:

2.1  the teacher's willingness to constitute a healthy relationship with the child; and

2.2  an intention to take care of the child in a religious respect.

These two matters display the following characteristics:

2.1 Willingness to constitute a relationship To readily constitute a relationship with the child by performing (a)-(f).  
a)  Active acceptance The child is influenced by and impressed with purpose of assisting him. Influencing the child to accept that the religious instruction lesson is presented in earnest; firstly promotes the teacher-child relationship and finally the child-God relationship.
b)  Bonding An intimate bond is forged between teacher and child. The teacher who succeeds in conveying the Living Word enthusiastically, forges meaningful bonds.
c)  Co-existence The child should always be treated as a human being, a as he is not an animal or an object. The teacher whose religious instruction is characterised by power consciousness of the essences of a matter holds human nature in high regard and deserves to be respected.
d)  Address-listen The child should be be spoken to plainly and he should listen carefully. The true educator is that teacher who applies his spiritual, moral and physical abilities to set the religious education in motion and also to keep it in motion.
e)  Regard Acting with respect, consideration, appreciation and reverence for the child's desire to be somebody himself. The child experiences and accepts expertise in a teacher, in conjunction with thorough preparation, as a special form of regard.
f)  Participating together The child should be permitted to actively participate in worth-while activities The child should experience the fact that the school grants him special opportunities to practise living the life of an adult with adults.
2.2  Intention to take care of The child should experience the fact that the teacher desires to watch over him by making (a)-(d) possible:  
a)  Space in which to care for The classroom which has been especially appointed and fitted up for religious instruction, is for instance experienced by the child as the place where he is willingly taken care of. The teacher who realises and accepts the fact that the care which the school provides is also care regarding religion, will make a significant contribution to the child's properly becoming an adult.
b)  Situations of acceptance Opportunities are created for the child to experience that he is welcome to participate in the religious instruction lesson. The good teacher is perceptive and alert and knows that granting an opportunity for active involvement amounts to displaying a form of acceptance.
c)  Concern on account of love The child must ascribe the meaning of goodwill to the efforts made on his behalf, and not suspect ulterior motives in such actions. This experience is made meaningful by the fact that the school was not established by children but by adults for children.
d)  Acting in love Warm affection for the child is revealed in performing (i)-(iii)  
i)  Creating a home A place is fitted up especially for him, in which he may feel at home (happy, at ease). Sound instruction is advanced regarding basic religious matters that will foster propriety in the child's mode of actualising his humanness.
ii)  Establishing nearness Personal nearness and even the slightest degree of dissociation should be wiped out. Intimate conversations, is created especially those arising from religious instruction lessons, are meaningful.
iii)  Adopting into our space (we-relation) The child is adopted into a place and into a relationship with someone with whom he can talk about "us". The task of the school to give expert religious instruction to a number of children simultaneously, becomes possible.


A child's world is constituted of everything that he is able to comprehend, i.e. that is meaningful to him. The act of practising and developing meanings occurs in the process of active involvement with pedagogically meaningful content and will be attained if (i)-(iv) are successfully actualised:

i)  Ascribing meaning Meanings are ascribed to people, objects and incidents that are relevant to religion.
ii)  Evaluating meaning The child should be assisted in assessing whether the religious meanings which he is ascribing, are in accordance with the requirements of propriety.
iii)  Experiencing meaning The child should be attuned to and subsequently accept the personel meaning of religion (i.e. its "significance to me").
iv)  Actualising meaning The child should be assisted in order that that which is really meaningful (important, worthwhile) might become a part of his mode of living.


The child should receive assistance at school, increasingly to become acquainted with the Christian philosophy of life, take his stance in its defence and put it into practice. Religious experience gives rise to a special knowledge of this philosophy of life.


The following basic facts may serve to indicate how these matters could be promoted by religious education. Reference is in each case made to the following periods:

  1. Nursery school:  the information is applicable to pre-primary education, but may also prove meaningful for comprehending the matter of religious education in the grades;

  2. Pre-puberty:  mainly applicable to the primary school classes, excepting standard five;

  3. Puberty:  referring mainly to standard five and the junior and senior secondary school phases;

  4. Adolescence:  pertaining to most pupils in standard ten plus the following year (some authors do not distinguish between adolescence and puberty; many, however, do regard adolescence as a clearly identifiable period subsequent to puberty).

5.1  Security through a sense of being accepted: basic facts

The nursery school phase:

  1. Security is established when the tot's inquiring attitude is accepted.

  2. Proof of acceptance is displayed by responding comprehensively to his why- and wherefore-questions. This fosters an experience of security.

  3. A foundation for future insecurity is laid when the Word of God is twisted by fantasy.

  4. Stressing God's goodness and his understanding of Man, evokes feelings of being accepted. This in turn promotes an experience of security.

  5. A sense of security is also realised on account of the experience of being accepted which stems from emphasising the fact that God gave Man the gift of affection for others and that He takes care of the world at large.


  1. Mental confusion may be caused by the pre-puber's habitual focus on concrete reality. This is gradually overcome by means of sympathetic and lucid exposition, experienced as an act of acceptance and developing into a sense of security.

  2. Assisting the child to comprehend and acknowledge the fact that God's love is in keeping with his righteousness, promotes a sense of security based on a feeling of being accepted.

  3. A sense of security is also established by sympathetically expounding the meaning of Christ's redemption.

5.2  The act of ascribing meaning: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. The child's questions regarding the meaning of religious matters should be answered in such a manner that

    1. existing fears may be lessened; and

    2. no anxiety is caused.

  2. An effort should be made to explain quite simply what the will of God was with regard to pecific events.

  3. Opportunities should be created for discussing religious matters (especially concerning his questions!)


  1. It should frequently be emphasised that the Bible is the true, real Word of God.

  2. The current significance of the Gospel should be elucidated in each instance.

  3. God should be strongly presented as the almighty, active Person that He is.

  4. Selflessness in praying to God should be commended.


  1. A life which is characterised by vivid contrasts, is not conducive to the act of genuinely ascribing meaning; sympathetic instruction is therefore required.

  2. The youthful desire to ascribe meaning to matters independently, needs to be satisfied. Opportunities to do so in an acceptable manner should therefore be created (e.g. inquire about his opinions and then discuss them). Doubts should be discussed and treated sympathetically.

5.3  Evaluating meaning: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. The meanings which a small child attaches to religion, should be evaluated in the light of the characteristics of his concept of God.

  2. Education with a view to progressively developing the child's concept of God must take account of his existing opinions concerning Him.


  1. Meanings which are ascribed to religion should be evaluated especially by conversing with the youngsters individually (as opposed to group discussions). Discussions on this topic should also be held among the members of a family.

  2. It is important to listen to the child's own interpretation and then to have it checked against the true exegesis.

  3. It needs to be emphasised that the exposition should be comprehensible and acceptable.


  1. The child in puberty should be granted the opportunity of evaluating his way of living and his conception of what is most valuable against the criterion of Biblical precepts himself.

  2. He expects those people whom he can truly respect, to also make due allowance for his own status as a person.

  3. He should be encouraged to take responsibility for religious activities of his own accord.

5.4  Experiencing meaning: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. Praying together is a special way of experiencing religious meanings.

  2. The basis for personal experience is to comprehend meanings and come into contact with them in a natural way.


  1. Criticism is evoked when the attitude which adults assume towards religion is not sincere.

  2. A child in puberty interprets the willingness of adults to listen to the meanings which he adheres to (experiences) as proof of their regard for him.

  3. A genuinely Christian atmosphere should reign, in order to serve as a means of support when the youth is assailed by doubts and trials.

  4. Many of the so-called negative attitudes of these young people should rather be recognised as an expression of their desire to think independently.

  5. Thinking independently about religious matters should indeed be encouraged, because it promotes the personal involvement with Truth.

  6. The dialogue (as well as the family discussion) about religion has a fundamental significance.

5.5  Actualising meaning: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. Religious development is delayed by anxiety, whereas it benefits from an emphasis on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

  2. The Biblical truths should be interpreted in their unadulterated form, exactly as recorded.

  3. More emphasis should gradually be laid on prayers of thanksgiving and intercession.

  4. Exercising religion as a trusting, intimate relationship with a loving God, should receive priority.


  1. It should be clear to the youngster that he is expected to behave properly when there are no adults present.
  2. It could prove worth-while to have conversations during which incidents that occurred in the absence of the parents, are evaluated.


  1. Bearing in mind that the religious life of a child in puberty is labile, may spare him considerable grief.

  2. When the way in which a youth would live gives proof of erroneous views, these meanings which he is adhering to should be discussed with him.

  3. A religious atmosphere that is alive (enthusiastic), loving and full of conviction, is fundamental to overcoming doubts and despair.

  4. Utilise prayer-life to educate young people towards a steadfast faith in God's mercy and love.

5.6  Living according to the demands of propriety: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. Owing to the fact that the small child is an excellent imitator, adults' perceptible behaviour should at all times meet the Christian standard of propriety.

  2. A genuine, personalised meaning is gradually ascribed to the propriety of the religious behaviour displayed by adults.


  1. The youngster should be assisted in increasingly distinguishing between good and evil on his own and in living according to this distinction.

  2. There should be a gradual transition form identifying with persons to identifying with standards of conduct.


  1. Religious exposition should always be performed with the following in mind:

    1. Man is sinful by nature;

    2. He is required to be perfect (without sin);

    3. Only God's grace can redeem him.

  2. The expository dialogue should at all times focus on God, as the friendly Confidant, and on Jesus Christ, as a loving Saviour.

  3. God hates sin, but He loves sinners (John 3:16).

5.7  Adhering to a philosophy of life: basic facts

The nursery school phase

  1. The religious home in which God is honoured, grants a sound basis upon which to evolve a philosophy of life.

  2. The example and the direct religious influence of adults are advantageous for the small child's adherence to that which is fitting and proper (identification with a standard of conduct, philosophy of life).

Pre-puberty and puberty

When religion is sincerely practised, it makes the youngsters aware of a standard of conduct, as an awareness of that which is most worth-while (philosophy of life).


  1. Religion which has become personalised, forms an integral part of the adolescent's own philosophy of life.

  2. When the fundamental significance of a specific creed is realised, the philosophy of life is more firmly established.

  3. Accepting the fact that I am a sinner, causes the Christian view of what is most worth-while to be refined (philosophy of life).


  1. LANDMAN, W A (1974) Leesboek vir die Christen-opvoeder. Pretoria:  N G Kerkboekhandel.

  2. LANDMAN, W A (1977) Fundamentele Pedagogiek en Onderwyspraktyk. Durban:  Butterworth.

  3. LANDMAN, W A; VAN ZYL, M E J; VAN ZYL, H A en SWART, (1975) A Kind en Godsdiens. Pretoria: N G Kerk boekhandel.


The school is able to make a meaningful contribution to the religious development of the child by means of religious instruction and subject teaching which should be Christian in Character.

To religious education to contribute to a child's becoming adult, it should promote the following:

  1. security through acceptance;

  2. involvement in giving meaning;

  3. adhering to a philosophy of life;

with reference to the following periods:

  1. Nursery School

  2. Prepuberty

  3. Puberty

  4. Adolescence.