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Fashion Me a People: Curriculum in the Church [Paperback]

By Maria Harris (Author)
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Item description for Fashion Me a People: Curriculum in the Church by Maria Harris...

"Curriculum" as described in Maria Harris's book is an exciting process embracing the entire course of the church's life. It concerns the creative and educational powers used to "fashion a people." Encompassing the total teaching mission of the church, it includes community, service, worship, proclamation, and instruction of all the members from birth to death. Contains "Reflection and Practice" exercises at the end of each chapter.

Publishers Description

Curriculum as described by Maria Harris's book is viewed as an activity, the practice of Christian education. It includes community, service, worship, proclamation, and instruction for all the members of the church from birth to death.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.9" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 9, 2010
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664240526  
ISBN13  9780664240523  

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More About Maria Harris

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Maria Harris was an internationally acclaimed religious educator. She has held prestigious lectureships and was the recipient of numerous awards. Her book "Fashion Me A People", first published in 1989, remains a popular text in seminaries and theological schools.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education

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Books > Church & Ministry > Pastoral Help > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Fashion Me a People?

Applicable to the church  Aug 24, 2007
According to an online dictionary, the meaning of "curriculum" is "all the courses of study offered by an educational institution" or "a set of courses constituting an area of specialization" ( In "Fashion Me a People," Maria Harris paints a multi-dimensional picture of "curriculum" within a church context. In fact, "curriculum" is not "reducible to resource materials" (8), nor is it simply "indoctrination" or "giving instructions" (48). Curriculum is "an activity, a practice of a people" (8), carried out by the "whole community" of believers (46). According to Harris, there are five forms of curriculum: (1) koinonia--the curriculum of community; (2) leiturgia--the curriculum of prayer; (3) didache--the curriculum of teaching; (4) kerygma--the curriculum of proclamation; and (5) diakonia--the curriculum of service (5). In other words, "curriculum" is the teaching about God (didache), how to worship God (leiturgia), how to love God's people (koinonia), how to love those outside the church (diakonia), and how to tell others about Christ (kerygma). These five forms of curriculum must be done by all believers.

The idea of "curriculum" is said to be a type of education that "includes education to and by community" (48). The title clearly shows that the curriculum in question is for the church, so it is unclear if the author intended to include the community of unbelievers in the context of curriculum. It makes sense that the church's curriculum would be to the community, but this type of education cannot be reciprocated unless the "community" are Christians. In the same sense, her chapter on "the curriculum of service" was essentially social care. There is nothing wrong with helping people to meet their need for food or clothing, but if the five forms of curriculum are to be fulfilled then there must be some sort of teaching or proclaiming about God intermixed with the act of service to the community.

In one part of the book, Harris uses Paulo Freire's description of "human beings as subjects" (67). Although its inclusion was to expand one's understanding of the "many layers of subject matter," the descriptive words used to show the tension of every human seemed confusing. For instance, Harris quotes Freire, "for human beings the essential decision is between speaking or remaining embedded in a culture of silence, between naming ourselves or being named by others, between remaining an object or becoming a subject" (67). One could assume that the intent of this quote was to illustrate that people are in need of "knowing" and "being known," a "need" expressed by Maslow.

Harris takes old concepts and presents them as something new. For example, she shares, "in a newer educational ministry framework, the whole community is educating and empowering the whole community to engage in ministry in the midst of the world" (46). This concept is found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 2:44-47 which essentially states that Christians ought to support one another and proclaim Christ to all people. She claims that the "present direction" is to "engage in ministry in the midst of the world," but it has already been mentioned by Paul in Romans 12:2. In her chapter on the "curriculum of prayer," Harris includes that prayer toward "God our Mother" or "God as the Great Sphere" is acceptable because some people are "desiring imagery for God" in order to pray (96). This act of creating a god does not properly convey leiturgia, didache, and kerygma.

The author did an incredible job of expanding the definition of "curriculum." She made it very clear that "curriculum" was more than just a textbook--it was the activity or duty of all Christians. In fact, Harris shared that the word "curriculum" came from a Latin word that meant "to run," and she stressed, "Curriculum is a course to be run" (55).
Her use of the word "curriculum" is very much in line with the Bible's use of the term "run." In the Book of Hebrews, Christians are told to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1), while Isaiah reminds believers that those "who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength...they shall run and not be weary" (Isa. 40:31), and Paul tells Timothy in his last letter, "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7).

Following each chapter, Harris included questions that induced rumination and contemplation that directed the reader to practical application of the chapter's content. One exercise in particular was an examination of the church's overall curriculum--the "explicit," "implicit," and "null" forms of curriculum as it pertained to the five forms of curriculum. Earlier in the chapter she had pointed out that the "explicit" curriculum was anything written, while "implicit" was the aesthetics or "patterns, organization, or procedures" of the explicit curriculum (i.e. "attitudes" or "design of a room") (69). The "null" curriculum was basically the unwritten rules or the curriculum that is unmentioned, such as "points of view" or "design of worship" (69).

Harris' redefinition of "curriculum" makes it possible for churches to evaluate their whole ministry in terms of the congregation as a "curriculum," meaning that the aspects of "community, prayer, teaching, proclaiming, and service" is taken into consideration when seeking the best way to engage God's Word (175). I would say that the book is written for the church, although it would not help in actually finding written curriculum.
Maria Harris is essential reading  Jul 9, 2007
Maria Harris provides essential reading for those interested in creative levels of teaching in religious education and theology.
A different way to think about ministry  Apr 20, 2007
I thought that this book presented me with a different way to think about ministry in the church. It challenges the reader to think about how things are structured in their church and whether or not that structure reaches out to everyone that it possibly could. I particularly liked the 5 different types of curriculum that it laid out. The reflection exercies would be especially helpful if a church staff or small group were using this study together.
The one thing that I didn't like about this book is that it didn't do a great job of making suggestions, giving examples, or even helping a congregation/ministry explore what its growing hedges were. I think that concrete things like those will really help to advance the church and its mission into the future instead of just theorizing about what learning in a church setting looks like.
Church education  Oct 18, 2005
Maria Harris' book Fashion Me A People was a very insightful read for me. I particularly enjoyed the second section of the book, where she mentioned the five different curriculums used within the church. The five curriculums are as follows: Koinonia, which is Community, Leiturgia, which is Prayer, Didache, which is Teaching, Kerygma, which is Proclamation, and Diakonia, which is Service. I also liked how Harris really pushed the idea that learning and education in the church is a long-term commitment and not just present. In other words, the people of the church will always be learning.
Where to now?  Oct 17, 2005
"Fashion my a People" is an interesting book but doesn't really give any direction as to where to is going.
The first part of the book deals mostly with the church setting itself, part two is the curriculum of the church, while the last is how to implement a curriculum.
By far the most useful of these is the second section in which Harris offers five different areas of curriculum within the church, namely, that of community, prayer, teaching, procamation, and teaching.
While the ideas presented are nice, they are by no means original. I felt that everything I was reading was something I had heard before. I kept reading hoping for a curriculum to put in place or other practical application, but it never came.
The most useful part, and the main reason to read this text, is to utilize the questions at the end of each chapter. The discussion questions are well thought out and come from a variety of points of view and really dig into what the material was speaking at. There are also questions that you can aim directly at the church you are a part of and evaluate how they are doing with their education.
The book emphasizes the fact that we are all teachers in the church and this is very valuable to hear. We may all know that education in the spiritual sense is a community effort, but we may blow it off. This book doesn't, it tackles the problem of involvement and seeks reform.
Overall, this is a useful text if the discussion questions are utilized. If you are looking for answers, go elsewhere, but eventually come back to this text and see what it has to say.

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