To Date or Not to Date?

To Date or Not to Date?

Sometimes curriculum materials come predated. In my opinion, this isn’t the best approach. Dating curriculum prevents the material from being used repeatedly or on a day other than the one printed on the materials. If for some reason class is cancelled or postponed, the teacher may end up wasting the predated materials because he or she doesn’t want the students to see the wrong date on the items. Or the teacher may already have new items, and the materials for the previous week generally get thrown away. Believe it or not, even preschoolers and primary students notice the wrong date on materials and quickly point it out to the teacher. I know, it happened to me.

In addition, dating curriculum eliminates a teacher’s flexibility. If the teacher wants to plan a special activity for his or her class, he or she is discouraged from doing so because the predated materials do not allow for postponing the lesson for another week. Also, the teacher cannot miss the lesson without getting behind on the curriculum’s agenda. Since when is the curriculum supposed to dictate the daily lesson or put condemnation and guilt on the teacher for wanting to bring something special to class? Or when is curriculum supposed to rule over the subject matters being taught in class? Or why should a class of students have to miss out on a special blessing because the curriculum isn’t flexible enough to allow for special times? Why should the teacher feel stressed out about being behind the curriculum’s agenda, not using all of the materials, and wasting the church’s money by throwing unused material in the garbage?

I know curriculum can be a great guide for teachers and the Holy Spirit can use it for His Glory. It can also help church leadership plan the topics their teachers present in class, and this oversight is good. However, it is the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart that is supposed to lead and guide us to all truth. If the Holy Spirit puts a special activity or lesson on the teacher’s heart, with permission from the church leaders, he or she should be allowed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit without being bound by predated curriculum materials.

Teachers may get opportunities to do special activities in class. For example, a parent may want to bring their musical talent or a special craft project into their child’s class. Or perhaps the church has a special celebration, such as a baptismal, picnic or guest speaker, and wants to have the children participate in this activity. One example of this came up when one of my students’ mother volunteered to put on her clown outfit (complete with painted face) and come into the classroom. I thought the children would enjoy it so I asked the leaders for permission and told the mom that her act needed to somehow add to the lesson. I gave her the lesson topic and told her what we were going to talk about. This mom came into class and did a wonderful job of reinforcing the lesson while she did her clown act. The children loved it!

Also, predated curriculum materials must be continually replaced with new materials. No one wants to use materials with dates from previous years on them. As a result, churches and other organizations that use predated curriculum materials have to keep spending more money on new materials. Consequently, companies that make curriculum keep their customers bound up on a conveyor belt of continually putting money out for new materials that will be used briefly and thrown away, if they are used at all.

Why not make Bible curriculum that can be used repeatedly and with flexibility? Which do you think is better—to date or not to date?