One of the most common concerns that I hear from people regarding Bible class is on the subject of curriculum. I totally understand those concerns. There are multitudes of Biblically illiterate children and adults who have been through the “typical” curriculum in our Bible classes. We want something better and more to teach, but how do we do that and what are we to look for in curriculum?
As a child and into my early adult years, all I knew was packaged curriculum from some of well known publishing houses. While there are many congregations still using this, more and more individuals and congregations are writing their own materials. I think there is frustration on the part of people who find that the packaged curriculum is often boring and contains a lot of “fluff”.
There are pros and cons to writing your own curriculum. In a congregation where I used to worship, quite a few teachers moved away from the packaged lessons and ventured out on their own in writing material. What I believe is the biggest negative in doing this was the lack of scope and sequence that is provided in packaged materials. Without an overall plan for classes, minor characters may never covered, certain topics may never be addressed, and students may have no idea of how all the Bible stories fit together. Writing material for an entire congregation to use could certainly alleviate that problem, but for me that just seemed like a daunting task!
In the congregation where I used to live, we set out to find better material than what we had been using. We took “field trips” to three different publishers in the Nashville and Bowling Green, KY areas. We looked at things in the stores and online to make comparisons. As it turned out, we found something that we thought was pretty good as a starting point and then tweaked it to our congregations needs. For instance, it gave us the scope and sequence we wanted, but we provided additional and more meaningful memory work, activities, and visuals.
Regardless of whether you purchase or write curriculum, I have some suggestions as to what you should look for in a good curriculum. Some of these ideas came from Sue Crabtree’s book “Let’s Be Great Teachers” and some just from my personal experience in looking for and developing our congregation’s curriculum.
Considerations when choosing curriculum:
- Bible-Centered (After all, what else should we be doing in a Bible class?-See article “What Are We Teaching”).
- Comprehensive & Balanced-(Don’t miss teaching the lesser known characters and stories).
- Clear objectives-(Know what a child should have learned when the lesson is finished).
- Appropriate level-(Reading level & information is not too easy or difficult).
- Organized scope & sequence-(An organized plan).
- Up to date attractive illustrations that are colorful & interesting to children-(Most children in this day & time don’t relate well to black & white illustrations or visuals that are decades old).
- Offer extra activities-(There is plenty of extra things to do if time allows, but are not manditory).
- No Fluff-(I want to spend time teaching the bible, not how to “be nice”, “share”, and “don’t hit your sister” :)).
- Chronological-(In my opinion, it gets confusing when you skip all over the Bible).
- Easy for Teachers to Use-(Doesn’t require hours of prep time each week in order to prepare a lesson. My experience was that most people weren’t willing to do large amounts of prep time).
- Reliable Version of the Bible-(Use one that is not a paraphrase or simplified version).
- Meaningful Memory Work-(See the article on Memory Work).
- All classes doing same lessons-(I like when all my kids are studying the same topic (different levels) & you can carry on with that discussion later. Not many curriculum choices do this, but I like it).
This is just a few things to consider as you choose curriculum. While at one time, choices were very limited, there are now many more to choose from. Choose wisely and carefully. Little souls are too valuable to be wasting time in non-productive Bible classes!