Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I haven’t updated in forever! Bad blogger! Bad bad!

There really hasn’t been much going on, at least in terms of stuff relative to this blog, and that is likely to continue. More on that to follow.

Things have finally moved forward with the curriculum situation at church, however. We had an “emergency” education committee meeting on Sunday evening, at which we discussed the DiscipleLand Core Bible Curriculum, Bible Study Guide, and 21st Century Christian.

Ralph had some interesting revelations regarding a few of the curricula. He told us that he had received a call from someone at 21st Century, that they were doing a customer satisfaction survey. He told them that he had actually had some complaints about the material recently. They said they were revamping it and wanted to send him a box of materials, absolutely free. He said that, when he looked at it, he just saw more of the same. I have to admit, the fact that they called him specifically makes me wonder…do they read my blog? 21st Century, are you out there? If they do, they’re obviously not reading very carefully, as what they sent to Ralph basically was the same kid’s menu garbage, maybe with shmancier graphics. I love those internet web crawlers that find hits about [company name]. We have one for Rosetta Stone, of course. I’m betting Hiram College (my alma mater) has one of those too, as I had a hit from that little village of 1300 people after I mentioned the school in a post. Hello, Hiram!

Anyway, then the discussion moved on to the DiscipleLand Core Bible Curriculum. Cathy wasn’t present at the meeting, but Ralph told us that he had mentioned it to her, and she said, “I know that stuff, it’s not biblical, and I won’t teach it.” Ralph said he had looked at the stuff, and had perused their website, but didn’t know what she was talking about. He went back to it, and found their “What We Believe” statement—and it didn’t mention baptism. Now, we Restoration types are pretty big on the whole baptism thing. So Ralph called them. The representative he spoke with told him that they leave it open so that the churches can teach whatever is relevant to their particular belief structure. “If they sprinkle, they can talk about sprinkling. If they dunk, they can talk about dunking. If they do babies…” etc. Ralph then asked which lessons specifically pertain to baptism. “It’s not in there,” the rep said.

This little anecdote confirms some suspicions I had about DiscipleLand, which is that they are trying to cast their nets to catch the widest market, principles being beside the point.
I mentioned my confusion at their other curriculum line, which was all fluff. I suspected then, and firmly believe now, that they are trying to get money from the churches that see Sunday school as education and those that see it as glorified babysitting. In addition, they want money from those who sprinkle, dunk, baptize infants, grown-ups, in-between. Their flaw was when they were too greedy—they wanted money from the people who don’t baptize at all (or who view it as largely irrelevant), so they left it out entirely. There is no moment for a competent teacher to elaborate on a basic framework lesson on baptism, sharing the practices and doctrine of his specific church. Instead, they skip it all together.

No curriculum (even one that has games that require a Bible to complete!) is worth losing a teacher as talented as Cathy. No one in the meeting even had to say that. The material was suddenly off the table, as if it had never been.

That left 21st Century and BSG. Pat presented BSG to the group and spoke highly of it, but remarked that it would require a lot of work from the teachers. Several people—not just me and JC—bristled at the notion that teachers would rather read from handouts than teach. Leah, a homeschooling mom with four kids, remarked that she had used BSG with her sons at home, when they were little. The family had worked through the first two Units (of four), and really enjoyed it. Leah is a great mom and a great teacher, so her opinion carried weight. The decision that ultimately went through was that we would continue with the 21st Century material for the fall quarter (as it starts in only two weeks!), and then in the winter, begin with BSG. This would give the teachers time to familiarize themselves with the material and prepare.

I worked things out with Janelle, who is currently teaching the 3rd and 4th graders. She’s going to teach them for the fall, and then I’ll take them for the winter, with the new curriculum. After that, we’ll rotate quarters, until one of us gets bored or has a baby or wants to try another age level. I need to talk to Josh—we told him we would be his teachers for the fall. I hope the little guy takes it ok. I love that kid to pieces. I am definitely going to make sure to tell him how much it meant to me—how it was the best gift ever—when he told us that he wanted us to be his teachers in the fall. Do all adults worry about whether children like them, or is it just me?

Because of this, posting for the fall will still be kind of slow. I’m hoping to renew my interview series, asking people about their own religious education experiences. That will certainly give me some fodder.

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