A discussion came up on Twitter about UU churches and UU Sunday School. And I thought I would talk a little bit more about my experiences with UU Sunday School and why I think it is the Best Thing Ever. For 12 years, I got up every Sunday, griped, and then went to church with a bunch of people I didn't really like, to talk about subjects I found fascinating. So I'm going to write about why you should consider sending your kids to UU Sunday School, even if you are not religious.
The first thing about Sunday School is this: I didn't have any friends. Everyone in my Sunday School class was extremely clique-y - and the boys wouldn't talk to the girls for the first ten years, which made it hard to become friends once we realized that boys and girls could be friends. It turned out that all of the girls had parents who were friends who decided to send their kids to school together, so they wouldn't talk to me. So friendship-wise, it wasn't a place that lasting friendships were made. However, I will be sending my children to a UU RE program, and if you are not a person of strong faith, or you are an interfaith couple, it is something you should consider as well.
UU Curriculum varies from school to school. My church had a large Religious Education program, which followed a pretty standard format for UU RE. Each year focused on a different theme. My favorite years were the ones that focused on studying various religions, including the third grade year in which we studied "Holidays and Holy Days" and celebrated the holidays of various religions to understand them. This included Chinese New Year, Sukkot, Guy Fawkes Day, Santa Lucia Day, and many others. It created a lasting knowledge base for what the Jewish holidays my friends celebrate, or the Catholic holidays my uncle celebrates, that I have found infinitely useful, and it was incredibly, delightfully, FUN. (Not a common word for Sunday school, I imagine.)
My least favorite year was the incredibly intense bible study year, in which you focus on bible study, have homework, and have to memorize all of the books in the bible, the 23rd psalm, and the Lord's Prayer. It was also the most useful. A working knowledge of the bible is incredibly important. As is knowing the Lord's Prayer. You say it at weddings, funerals, and regular person's church services, so I think it's important.
I will talk briefly about the Our Whole Lives Curriculum. This is the Unitarian Universalist Comprehensive Sex Education. This is fiercely important to me, as Abstinence-Only Sex Education is a Terrible Terrible Thing. This was a full year of learning everything about health and human sexuality, including learning about same-sex relationships. But the curriculum actually continues in high school, and that was where it got fantastic - we engaged in long discussions about what makes for a healthy relationship and how that is something we all deserve and should pursue. We role-played how to have tough conversations about difficult topics with a significant other.
In between all of this was a LOT of studying what religion means. The great thing about Unitarians is they don't tell you what to believe. They taught us instead how to critically examine faith, how to ask the questions we needed, how to find what we were looking for from religion, and reminded us that above all, a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning" was valid.