Freebie: The Art of Tweaking Curriculum – Part 2: The Art of Tweaking CurriculumWe have our curriculum in hand. We have asked our students what they want. Now HOW do we teach curriculum so we don’t really lose anyone in the room.
For the next couple of days, I would like to provide you with some practical ideas.
Sometimes curriculum is cumbersome because the context of a student’s life is assumed. It is written from the perspective that MOST of our students have 2 parents, no questions and a great home life. Yet, do we know this is true? What’s going on below the surface of a life?
You might hear a statement like: “You live in a materialistic society, in the richest nation in the world,” in a curriculum. HOWEVER, if we say this to a student who may not have enough food or feels neglected, it is a statement that is hurtful. When we barrel in this way, it actually closes our students off.
Instead, we take out assumptions based on what we SEE in our group. We must remember that the students don’t always give us the whole story. Fathers may be missing physically or emotionally from a child’s life. A student’s perspective is their reality. So try switching the lesson so they can see from their point of view: Talk about how there is hunger in this nation, but that doesn’t give us a right to become victim. Then talk about what is going on in the rest of the world. Help them connect with how they feel with how others might feel in other areas of the world.
Sometimes in an effort to make things “teen friendly” curriculum doesn’t make sense to the actual teen. It’s obviously written by a well meaning adult who doesn’t actually interact with teens.
I read this statement in a recent MS curriculum. They were making the point that we need to understand we are all children of God. So it made the statement: “Prepare yourself to receive the sonship today. “
What?! I don’t even know what that means! How can I expect a 7th grader to interpret that, even one who has grown up in church. How do you receive “sonship?” Do you need to do something special for this “preparation?”
Change the phrasing in a way that allows students to feel included in the conversation. As you look at the way things are written, think to yourself, “If I had just started coming to church, or didn’t really “know” my Bible would this statement make sense to me?”
We have to take the time to ask students if they know what we are talking about. What is a child of God? How do we become one? What are the implications of being that? The original phrase makes it sound downright scary. What about asking students instead, “Is everyone a child of God? Why?” Then take a look at the scripture and break it down.
Remember students, even ones who have grown up in the church, may not know how to take statements to heart and truly apply them. They may have heard words like faith, temptation, sonship, and even trusting God. Yet, they may not have any clue what that really means to them.
Look for cues in your students’ demeanor. Usually when students act bored or indifferent, there is a reason we have lost their interest. The question becomes are they being challenged to REALLY understand what it will take to make this a part of their every day lives?
In part 3, we will finish up with some creative concepts to hold make curriculum your own.
Change your phrasing!