Sunday, May 20, 2007


The other day, JC and I were discussing what we might teach when if we were trying to write a curriculum that would cover all ages. I think that the group we have now (3rd and 4th grades) is about ideal for a detailed look at the Old Testament--and if you have two years to do it, you can get through the whole thing fairly well. Much younger than that, and they can't really grasp the chronology (our students have a rough time with that even at their ages!). Any older, and they begin discovering that they really need all this background information to understand what they need to be learning about right then.

JC expressed distress and frustration that our students have no real understanding of Jesus as a being who is God and yet is not only God. The divine nature of Jesus, they are totally down with. They pray to Jesus. They sing "Jesus Loves Me." They view Him as an eternal being. Sweet.

But then you start talking about when Jesus lived--you talk about him being a human after Moses, but before Paul. You talk about Him living--walking on Earth--for thirty-three years. You mention the Holy Spirit. You get total blank looks.

I think my students understand the stories they know about Jesus' life in much the same way the ancient Greeks thought about the life of Zeus. He has a chronology, of sorts, but he spends a lot of time dropping in on humans to seduce them in the guise of a bull (Zeus), or heal and feed them (Jesus), and then going back to Mount Olympus/Heaven.

Because of this confusion, we thought it would be interesting to do a very linear study, complete with a timeline that the students would build, just as those in our current class have been building our family tree. We'd start with the birth and go, event by miraculous event, to the Ascension. Maybe studying the life of Jesus this way, instead of piecemeal as it is in the curriculum the church generally uses, would help the students get a sense of it as a single story.
For fifth and sixth graders, we think a very intensive, slow, and meticulous study of the last week of Jesus' human life would be in order. That age is more or less when most of them will get baptized, or start to seriously think about it, and they should really get the whole death/burial/resurrection thing before they do that. A study on the Holy Spirit would also be helpful for that age group. What's the point of receiving the "gift of the Holy Spirit," if you haven't a clue what or who the Holy Spirit is?

For the younger kids (five and under), we drew a blank. Maybe there is an age below which you actually can't do much other than tell stories that have animals in them and sing "Father Abraham."

There's plenty of material for 7th grade and up, so we didn't even bother discussing it.

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