Our opportunities to reveal God’s truth in all creation, to explore Biblical perspectives, and to nurture faith in students are core distinctives of Christian education. Yet, if the truth were told, it cannot be assumed that new graduates or even teachers with some experience have had the kind of background or training to make faith-learning connections or to teach the Bible effectively. This latter concern led Dr. Johanna Campbell, retired British Columbia Teachers’ Association leader and former teacher, to write a book entitled How to Profit From the Word: A Handbook for teachers of Bible in Christian Schools just for that purpose. From her website, she offers the following description of the book: “The first three chapters discuss the basic tenets of our Christian faith, using the Apostles’ Creed as an overall guide. Chapters 4-10 discuss curriculum frameworks, Christian methodology, pedagogy, learning the Bible in community, and what role the Holy Spirit plays in the classroom. There are five helpful appendices which give ideas on how to assess the subject ‘Bible’, how to journal through a Bible book, how to do a passage analysis, sample outlines on how to ‘camp’ around a Bible book, and a page listing some helpful resources for the Bible teacher.” The book is available on her website.
Johanna has also put together another inexpensive booklet called Bible Q & A: From Creation to New Creation. While this booklet is designed for children under 12, it could also be used effectively with new believers, for evangelism purposes, or for ESL students. These are “the basics” – in Johanna’s words – “a benchmark of biblical knowledge for both children and adults.” The booklet is now available in Spanish also and is being used presently by EduDeo in Honduras and Nicaragua. It is available in French as well.
Any Christian schools that teach French or Spanish could use the Bible Q & A for their high school students to give them a basic Christian vocabulary in the language they are studying. Study one Q & A (or a small related section) per lesson–5 minutes.
Kudos, Johanna – thanks for making these excellent resources available for teachers and students and thanks for your heart and passion to do this not for profit, but to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. For more information, please visit her website.
A friend recently posed the question to me of best practices in Bible teaching and we had a great discussion about what we believed were the most effective pedagogical strategies. We were not aware of any empirical research in this area, and so I submit a partial list to you drawn mostly from experience, and invite you to suggest other practices or disagree with one I have listed! The only criteria is that your suggested practice must be applicable across the grades and must be something that could be done (for example, a trip to the Holy Land would be wonderful, but not possible for all!)
Category 1 – The Basics
2. Scripture memorization
Category 2 – Application
4. Dilemmas/case studies
Category 3 – Personal Response
What else would you add?
We have been told many times that one of the greatest gifts that Christian Schools International (CSI) has made to the Christian education community has been the Bible curriculum that it has produced. While I don’t usually go commercial in this blog, I must share with you our excitement about the new version of our CSI Bible curriculum, Walking With God and His People, that is being birthed even as you read this!
Over the past several years we have been working on gathering research, creating a new scope and sequence, identifying and training writers, editing and proofreading, and all the other things that go into creating a new curriculum. At this point we are very close to having our preschool (JK in Canada) – 4th grade curriculum ready for final printing and production! For those of you reading this who are part of CSI member schools, you should be receiving a sampler brochure in the next few weeks outlining the new curriculum. We are also sharing about the new curriculum at fall teacher conventions and school-based workshops. If you are interested in learning more about our new curriculum you can click on this link, call 1-800-635-8288 for a sampler brochure, or email Andrea Kamper to schedule an introductory workshop for your school.
In my Internet reading travels I came across a promotional site for a new movie just out on October 19 called The Ten Commandments. (Disclaimer: I did not include the link in this post to endorse the movie – I have not seen it or read any reviews on it, so I cannot do either.) My interest was piqued by these statistics from the site about general Biblical literacy – basically more people remember the complete ingredients of a Big Mac than the Ten Commandments. This is outrageous!! Give the Ten Commandments challenge to your kids and see how they do.
I think that the memorable acronym “I am the Lord” (each letter in the phrase standing for a commandment) shown on the site via the downloadable PDF bookmarks may also be a great way for kids to remember the Ten Commandments.
First things first! I am convinced that one of the very best things we can do in Christian education is to have students memorize Scripture. I cannot tell you how often I have had various words of Scripture come into my mind as I have gone through various life situations. Helping kids learn to “eat right” as suggested by Eugene Peterson in the title of his latest book – “Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading” will help to provide a tool for the Holy Spirit to use throughout their lifetime to encourage and convict. (Heb. 4:12, Psalm 119:105)
There is growing evidence that youth today are growing in their Biblical illiteracy levels. The release of the 2005 national report entitled Bible Literacy Report, commissioned by the Bible Literacy Project, Inc. under a grant from the John Templeton Foundation lists the following findings:
- Teachers estimated that less than a fourth of their current students are Biblically literate.
- Born again and evangelical teens were often only slightly more likely than other teens to display Bible literacy. (and yes- this survey sampled Christian schools also!)
- Fewer than half of Americans teens know what happened at the wedding at Cana. One out of four refused to guess.
- Given a choice of four quotations from the Bible, almost two-thirds of teens could not correctly identify a quotation from the Sermon on the Mount (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”).
- One quarter believed that the statement “David was the king of the Jews” was false.
More information on this project which seeks to increase Biblical literacy can be found at http://www.bibleliteracy.org
Los Angeles Times columnist, Stephen Prothero, in his column entitled “Religious nation, religious illiterates” states that while Americans today are far more religious than Europeans, they know far less about religion. He remarks that when Americans debated slavery almost exclusively on the basis of the Bible, everyone could follow the debate. Could we have the same level of discussion presently on the issues of the day? He holds churches responsible – too much time spent on things other than the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. He lays most of the blame at the feet of public schools who have misunderstood the First Amendment.
Similarly, Smith and Denton in Soul Searching (see previous post of October 11) lay much of the blame for youth’s current theology (or lack thereof) on an inadequate grounding in Scripture. Because they didn’t have a grounding in Scripture they were not able to talk concretely about their faith. Not surprising then that the study showed that kids were not sure that there were moral absolutes.
Biblical literacy begins at home, but is nurtured and developed as well by church and school. I think it would be helpful to share the kinds of programs and strategies we have in place. I would like to compile a listing and then place it in the Member Community Center for reference. Would you be willing to share what you are doing?