Curriculum, classrooms, content, and conundrums

As a Bible study leader, you probably use curriculum in your group. Today I want to share some insights from Robert Pazmino, the author of the book Foundational Issues in Christian Education. This book is required reading in my doctoral class this semester, and is one I would recommend for your personal library. Thanks, Dr. Dwayne McCrary, for introducing this book to the online class members!

Here is what Pazmino has to say about curriculum and its use by you and I as group leaders, and the necessity of connecting the classroom experience to the content being taught and the curriculum’s intersection with the lives of the students. I’ll be back after the quote to help us process what he’s saying to all of us who teach learners:

Curriculum can be defined as that content made available to students and their actual learning experiences guided by a teacher. This definition implies that the teacher must assume responsibility in terms of content and experience in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of teaching…Students’ experiences are guided in ways that contribute to their information, formation, and transformation. The teacher’s responsibility in relation to students’ experiences is to foster a process in which experiences become informed and are examined with reflection…Christian content without experience is empty and that experience without content is blind. The challenge in curriculum construction is to merge or blend both Christian content and experience so that the minds and lives of students are influenced and transformed by God’s truth…An effective curriculum weds Christian content and experience and thereby is potentially life transforming….Teachers are called to be knowledgeable and sensitive to the dimensions of the content and to the various experiences of the students within their particular context. With this knowledge and sensitivity, teachers can tailor the presentation of material to their students…Therefore to blend both content and experience, Christian teachers must faithfully live out a concern for both truth and love in their teaching and the experience of students. Teachers are called to care for the persons they are teaching…Teachers are called to care for the content they are sharing, given its transformative potential in the lives of their students.

There is so much we could unpack in this quotation from page 232-233. My main takeaways are:

  1. Teachers are guides.
  2. The experiences of students are important to the learning process.
  3. Teachers should prepare their content with the experiences of the students in mind; this requires knowing students beyond the classroom.
  4. Bible studies must be tailored to each group. You and I could teach the same lesson from a curriculum chosen by the leaders of our church, but we will approach the actual teaching differently because the experiences of our group members are different.
  5. Teachers are called not only to teach, but to care for the students in their groups.
  6. Teachers are called to care for the content presented in their groups by wedding content to the experiences of the group members.

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