Lesson 3 Preparation
What shapes a school’s curriculum?
Christianity is not a series of truths in the plural, but rather truth spelled with a capital “T.” Truth about total reality, not just about religious things. Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality — and the intellectual holding of that total Truth and then living in the light of that Truth.
Address at the University of Notre Dame, April 1981
Each lesson will start with an opportunity to “Listen In” as two elementary teachers, Anna and Mario at Edgewood Christian School share their concerns with each other.
Anna stopped at the open door, her tote bag slung over her shoulder. “Have a good night, Mario."
“Thanks, you too.” Mario snapped shut the briefcase. “Hey, that curriculum workshop was helpful, don’t you think? I had never heard about all those different ways to think about curriculum!"
Anna nodded. "Yeah, me neither — and I liked looking at examples of actual curriculum guides. Some were sure easier to follow than others."
"I agree, but I still have some questions. Like…how do we know if the curriculum is worth following? I mean, it might be well organized, but how can we determine if what it asks us to teach is really correct…or even biblical?"
Anna squinted at him. "Biblical? What? Can curriculum be ‘biblical’? I mean, content is content. I’ve always heard that curriculum is neutral. You know what I mean, don’t you? The content we follow for our Christian school should be the same as any other school in the area, shouldn’t it? How else will our students be successful on the national exam?"
Mario stood, grabbing his water bottle in his free hand before heading to the door. "I’m not sure. I guess we will find out at the next workshop!"
The “conversation” between Anna and Mario raises the question, “How do we know if we can, or should, trust a curriculum we’ve been given to follow?” It also brings up the common idea that education can be neutral, an idea that pervades school cultures worldwide. Unfortunately, the idea also persists in Christian churches and schools, even though it goes directly against God’s Word.
Before you begin: Take a minute and think back to something you remember learning in primary school or secondary school. Did learning this fact or idea make a difference in your way of thinking or in how you lived your life, whether it be for good or for bad? What does it say about the lasting influence of curriculum? What does it say about how a teacher can shape curriculum?
Lesson 3 Objectives
In this lesson you will:
- Acknowledge that worldview beliefs shape curriculum.
- Defend against the false teaching of neutrality in education.
- Express the importance of identifying underlying worldview beliefs in curriculum documents.
- Infer underlying worldview beliefs reflected in the sampling of contemporary curriculums presented (using Young’s Worldview Questions and biblical answers).
- Differentiate between nature and nurture.
- Explain why education is not the ultimate answer to mankind’s problems.
Lesson 3 Essential Questions
Consider the following question, and subquestions, as you complete Lesson 1 and Lesson 2:
- What shapes a school’s curriculum?
- Why is it important to detect the worldview beliefs that have shaped a school’s curriculum? And how can we detect those beliefs?
Ramsay, R. B. (2020). Intellectual integrity: Developing a Christian worldview. Miami, FL: [Chapter 2: “The War for the Truth” (pp. 23-42); Chapter 3: “Attack or Retreat?” (pp. 43-62) and Chapter 4, “Non Christian worldview” (pp. 63-82 )]
Borg, J. (2020). “Penguin Math." World Magazine, August 27, 2020. Retrieved from https://world.wng.org/content/penguin_math
For the Lesson 3 Application Assignment, you will need to find and have with you:.
- Any documents that you consider to be curriculum guides in use at your school.
Reminder, for later lessons, you will need:
- Your school’s mission and or vision statement and any school-wide goals/outcomes.
- Examples of school mission statements from several other schools in your area.
- The person or persons most responsible for curriculum development in your school (you will be asked to interview them in Lesson 6)