Bible Curriculum Challenges:
While teaching Bible classes, on several occasions, I used preprinted curriculum to help plan and present my lessons. Preprinted curriculum are the materials and lesson books given to teachers and students to use as learning materials. I have used curriculum for students between age 4 and through adults, with the exception of high school students. During these times of teaching, God revealed to me several pitfalls of these curriculum. Some of these problems can be fixed by those designing and printing the materials, others can be resolved by the teacher in the classroom, and some cannot be resolved except for God’s intervention.
As God began calling me to write, He began revealing these challenges with curriculum materials to me. He showed me how difficult it is to find ideas, lesson plans, and materials for teaching dynamic Bible lessons that hold the students’ attention, create excitement for God’s word, and teach the basic principles of the Gospel and Christian living to the students. Hopefully, as I share my experiences, God will open your eyes and bring you an awareness to the pitfalls of curriculum. Perhaps you will glean something to help you in your classes and your life.
These curriculum challenges have been given short, relevant names to help you remember and watch for them in your classes. Perhaps you will also see a need for improvement in our Bible-teaching materials.
As we move forward and look at these challenges, bear in mind that no human can ever know the exact outcome of the curriculum they design. There are many limitations and variables that change in each church and classroom, and no human can foresee or know these ahead of time. But perhaps by pointing out challenges in my years of teaching, curriculum designers and Bible teachers can glean something to will help make them aware of these challenges so they can work to find the right solutions for their classes.
Some examples of limitations that can hinder the use of a curriculum or segment of that curriculum include class size, cost of the curriculum, cost of needed additional supplies, room size, the number of those attending a church, and physical limitations of the teacher and/or the students.
Some examples of variables that can hinder the use of curriculum can be the size and structure of the classrooms, the availability and costs of materials and supplies needed, the gifting and personalities of the teacher and students, variances in the time allotments for classes, and several other circumstances. At times, even design flaws and/or copyright laws can hinder the use of the curriculum, even to the point of rendering it useless.
During the years I taught and used Bible curriculum, I encountered several challenges with various materials. I want to share these experiences in hopes that curriculum designers, teachers and others will glean from them.
I have also come up with ideas for improving some Bible curriculum. The following is an overview of these ideas which I gleaned from past experiences. My goals for improvement of Bible curriculum are as follows:
- To evade formats of Bible curriculum that lack cohesiveness, student participation, and activities that reinforce the main lesson theme.
- To avoid creating curriculum with old-fashioned, lecture-centered formats that create boredom and do not challenge, encourage, or excite today’s visually-oriented students. This is especially true in classes of children and youth.
- To provide curriculum with a variety of lesson segments or components that are cohesive, meaning they all work together to reinforce the main points of the lesson that’s being taught.
- To combine all the curriculum materials into one package for convenience and to eliminate having to purchase a bunch of add-on materials.
- To create curriculum with reproducible lesson worksheets so teachers can copy their lessons for the students, including those with irregular attendance and visitors. This will reduce the cost of having to purchase extra workbooks for each student.
- To help reduce the cost of materials so small churches, Christian schools, and home-schooling families can afford to purchase and use them.
- To get churches and Christian schools off of the “dated curriculum” conveyor belt that moves toward increasing costs and a waste of church resources.
- To provide more New Testament teaching materials so the students will learn more about Jesus, new birth, establishing a personal relationship with God and His people, living Godly lives, discipleship, evangelism, spreading the Gospel, revelation, prophecy, and the end times.
- To provide curriculum with more hands-on experiences, application activities, interactive materials, visual aids, and demonstrations of how to apply what they learn in the lesson to their daily lives.
- To provide more activity and fellowship times to allow students to develop friendships with those in their classes.
- To provide curriculum tools that enable teachers to create positive learning environments that encourage, excite, and inspire the students to follow Jesus, learn how to live Godly lives, and to love God and others—within the context of principles taught in the Holy Bible.
- To provide curriculum that encourages students to learn how to use their Bible to look up scripture, and to solve personal problems that come their way.
In conclusion, I want to awaken Christian workers to some of the pitfalls of curriculum in hopes they will take a good look at their present day teaching methods and resources, and see how we can make them better. We need to encourage our students and do what we can to make learning the Bible more enjoyable, more relevant to present day issues, and more about Jesus and salvation, and preparing people for the day Jesus comes back.
I know there are many topics to teach about in the pages of God’s word. However, the time when Jesus will come back for the church is quickly approaching and there are still millions of people who need to hear that God loves them, paid the price for their sins, and wants them to become members of His kingdom and His heavenly household. I believe we need to focus on these main areas: evangelizing and equipping the church to continue to share the good news about Jesus Christ to all who will listen. Jesus wants us to share His message so all who are destined to be His children will come into the fold.