Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keeping Busy

Well, it's now one week until we close on our house. Life is pretty chaotic right now. It's ok, though--we're so excited about having our own cottage in the woods.

I had worried that I wouldn't have anything to blog about once JC and I took our hiatus from teaching this summer, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Now that people know what I'm working on, food for thought keeps finding me.

JC's sister brought me the August 2006 Gospel Advocate. The GA is not exactly in my must-read list, but I understand why she thought I should check out this issue. The cover read: "Putting the Bible back into Bible School." I'm glad to know that the editors of the Church of Christ publication of record and note agree with me that we're in a dire situation. The articles within had a few good ideas. There was one, entitled "Seven Ways for Parents to Help," by Roger D. Campbell, that I think I will Xerox and give to my students' parents next year. Every point he made seemed very obvious to me, but sometimes it's the obvious things that need stating: Ask your kid about class, get him there on time, go to class yourself.

How hard is that?

Pretty hard, apparently.

The cover article ("'I Have Found the Bible': Putting the Bible Back Into Bible School" by Al Bugg, Jr.) laid out some very practical advice. His number one suggestion was to ensure that the Bible is central to study. Ask even very little kids to read from real Bibles--from their own Bibles--he writes. Any curriculum that doesn't teach kids to navigate their Bible gets the big thumbs-down from me.

The last (depressing!) article to come my way this week was "Why Johnny Can't Believe," by James Patrick Holding. I discovered it while cruising the internet on the google search terms: "Sunday school failure." The title, a play on the excellent Why Johnny Can't Read--and What You Can Do About It, caught my eye. Titles are good for communicating the kid of person you are, and the kind of take you'll have on a problem. This title is a very good one in that it would not mislead someone who didn't catch the reference, but to someone familiar with the namesake work, it's an insider reference. Enough with the geeky English major digression.

The guy seems a bit obsessed with The DaVinci Code (he goes so far as to say, if your church doesn't have a planned, typewritten answer to those claims, it's not teaching. What's wrong with saying, "The DaVinci Code is fiction. Do you also believe that Peter Pan will come take you to Neverland if you think happy thoughts? If you meet someone named Harold, do you ask him for his purple crayon?"), but other than that, it's a great article. Holding makes an indictment of a church that is afraid to ask people to think, because those people might have thoughts that are inconsistent with the party line. Goodness knows, I do! He points out that people whose faith is rooted in habit have no defenses at all when faced with atheistic arguments. Do we want to raise habitual Christians? Of course not!

It's a good article, check it out.

I'm still trying to find articles that do a consumer reports-type look at curricula -- or something very practical about actually teaching middle-elementary Sunday school. There's not a whole lot out there, other than people trying to sell stuff.

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