Q – What is the variety and number of questions given for assignments?
A – It depends on you as formator, each one works differently. Some people write between three to five questions designed to make people think about something, rather than find a ready answer. If they are reading the material, it will be obvious by the questions they ask. You can look more for their questions than their answers. You can’t give them what they need if you don’t know what their questions are. They should be encouraged to ask questions.
We need to be reasonable, we are lay people, so we can’t burden people with a lot of homework. We need to keep the questions simple. It’s just so we know they are actually reading what they are supposed to; it is not to make them discouraged and feel overburdened.
A few communities are so strict about homework that, if some members have not done their homework, they won’t come to the meeting. We want to encourage people. In our day and age, people read less, especially as we age and it becomes more difficult. Let this never be a reason not to attend the meeting.
Also please be sure that everyone is given a copy of the questions, not just a couple of people in the group. It is very difficult to have a discussion unless everyone is equipped. Those who do not have them end up staring out into space.
Sample opened-ended questions which are in the Formation Guidelines (page 109) were based on the 6 elements from Fr. Deeney’s article (see page 43 Discerning a Vocation, which is also in his recently published book.)
One person commented that they have two teachers for each class of formation so they can team teach. It is very helpful when a backup is needed, rather than pulling someone in cold.
You have to be in touch with the individual people to know what questions to ask. A very good question is how does it relate to your life, rather than have them quoting back from the book. Be sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak. If they have already spoken, they should wait until everyone else has had a chance to share before they speak again.
There is a group that has everyone draw a number and that is the paragraph (or page) in the reading that they will lead in the discussion. Since they don’t know the numbers ahead of time, they must study everything in order to be prepared to lead a part of it. In this way, they all have an opportunity to help each other out. Some people like to send their questions back by email, so you may want to consider emailing them, as well as handing them out.