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Position Papers Chapter 1

 

 

THE NEW CURRICULUM: PROJECTED PRECEDURES AND SCHEDULING

 

    Need for the development of a new church school curriculum has been apparent for some time now. Factors that underscore the urgency of such a project include the following

a.   The current curricular materials will have been in use for twelve years by 1970 and will thus have fulfilled their projected life span. During the period in which they have been available, revisions for the purposes of updating and upgrading have taken place, but at best these amendments have been only piece-meal. The producers of these materials were themselves aware of many inherent inadequacies in the materials, which inadequacies were occasioned by the haste and pressures under which the writers and editors were forced to labor. To attempt to extend the services of the current curricular materials any further than 1970 would therefore be highly undesirable.
b.   The development of a new curriculum is seen to be in harmony with the intent of Objective No. 1 as presented by the Joint Council of the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve to the World Conference of 1966. The task of clarifying the theology of the church and unifying the members of the church in their faith may well pivot around the development of adequate study materials for use in our membership's educational endeavors.
c.   Comprehensive studies in curriculum philosophy and design for Christian education have been carried out by many religious and educational groups in recent years. The results of such research are available to us and may be taken into account, together with research conducted by the previous curriculum committee of our church and the experience of evaluating the effectiveness of the current curriculum, as we move towards developing a new curriculum.
d.   The staff of the Church School Division appears to have become sufficiently stabilized to enable them to begin work toward a new curriculum. For the first time in several years sufficient manpower and budget have been made available to the Division for undertaking a project of this magnitude.
e.   The question of devising our own nursery material and possibly course work for older youth has been a recurring issue. Discussion of the advisability and practicality of such a move would best be handled within the context of the development of a new curriculum for the whole church school.
    Since the World Conference of 1966, preliminary discussions concerning this project have taken place within the framework of the Church School Division. Members of the Division, together with the Director of Religious Education, form the Basic Working Committee. These personnel are Donald Landon, Department Director; Geoffrey Spencer, Director of the Church School Division; Vernone Sparks, Editor of Adult Material; Wayne Ham, Editor of Youth Materials; Edna Easter, Editor of Children's Materials. This committee has executive responsibility for the initiating, planning, developing, and producing of the new curriculum.
    In addition, a larger Curriculum Consultation Committee will serve as an advisory board. This group will represent the leadership community of the church and will be composed of some general officers and others who have shown themselves to be well equipped with theological skills and educational insights. This committee will be asked to react to the general theological stance of the new curriculum as indicated in a series of study papers produced by the Department of Religious Education. Of particular importance will be the Committee's response to the Department's philosophy and design for religious education. In effect, then, the Curriculum Consultation Committee will function as a sounding board for the ideas and procedures proposed by the Basic Working Committee. Moreover, the larger committee will serve as recommending agency, passing on the ideas and suggestions that emerge out of the background and experience of individual members and out of the corporate wisdom of the group as it deliberates together. Finally, the committee will be a referral body, appraising the project at regular stages of its development until the completion of the project. The following personnel constitute the membership of the Curriculum Consultation Committee: Earl Higdon (Chairman), Clifford Cole (Vice-chairman), Duane Couey, Alan Tyree, Harry Doty, Lyman Edwards, John Conway, Lee Hart, Eunice Livingston, and Robert Johnson.
    It is expected that committee organization at one other level may take place during the course of this project. Ad hoc committees consisting of lay persons, church leaders, or field ministers who are specialists or experts in a certain area of concern may be brought into being for the exploration of certain issues in which a certain breadth and depth of judgment is mandatory. The organizing of such groups will be largely the province of the individual members of the basic working committee as they are struggling with various questions that the developing a curriculum will incur.
    Let us now turn our attention to the matter of the projected schedule of our work together. In attempting to map out the procedural strategy for the days ahead, we must keep in mind that any projected schedule must necessarily remain flexible and pliable. Nevertheless, here are some crucial activities and their anticipated dates:
    Sept. 11-14, 1967 - Members of the Basic Working Committee will be in Philadelphia, Providence, and New York City for conversations with editorial and publishing house representatives of various religious and commercial agencies. By becoming aware of the successes and failures of groups which have recently been involved in curriculum production, we hope to benefit from their experience so that we may avoid their mistakes and capitalize upon their gains. Our experience thus far indicates that most religious and educational groups are happy to share with us the accumulated wisdom that has come to them out of practical experience with the problems of developing and publishing a curriculum. It is, therefore, anticipated that further opportunities for consultation with religious education professionals and publishing house representatives will be open to us at several points during the development of the new curriculum.
    *Sept.18, 1967 - At this first meeting of the Curriculum Consultation Committee with the Basic Working Committee, the major focus will be the presentation of a study paper on "The Philosophy and Design of Christian Education." The study papers presented at this and subsequent sessions attempt to state fairly explicitly, though not definitively, the general theological orientation undergirding and supporting the approach and content of new curriculum. Department members have sought to make more explicit the theological presuppositions that will guide the selection of and use of content items and emphases in educational programs and materials to be developed in the days ahead. This will bring a rich measure of consistency to the various phrases of our work, and will assure us that the church's concern for theological clarification will be faithfully furthered by the new curriculum. Given the dynamic nature of our understanding of God and his purposes, it is expected that these study papers will be reviewed and reevaluated from time to time and will be continually subject to whatever corrective insight becomes available to us.
    As we involve ourselves in the task of working with our writers, the positions set forth in the papers will give needed guidance to them as they attempt to translate the intent of the curriculum into actual lesson materials. This does not mean, however, that the study papers themselves will be made available to the writers. Each writer, in his relationship to an editor and in the light of the nature of his special assignment, will constitute a particular situation, and how the intent of curriculum is interpreted to the writer will be determined in large measure by the particularity of that relationship. As a general rule, we state that basically these study papers are not intended for general circulation.
    Also at this first session, recommendations concerning the length of units in the curriculum and the starting date of the church school year will be introduced. Suggestions concerning the age groups involved, the structuring of the cycle, possibilities for format, and other basic concerns may also be presented.
    Oct. '67-May '68 - The Basic Working Committee will be involved in such activities as:

(1) procuring a selective sampling of church schools with regard to determining the current state of affairs concerning space, availability of teachers, usage of audio-visuals, and number and size of classes.

(2) structuring the curriculum in terms of course work themes and emphases

(3) selecting and contracting writers for the A courses

    *Oct. 10, 1967 - This second session will allow the Curriculum Consultation Committee opportunity to react further to the recommendations made at the first session. Other proposals may be presented by the Basic Working Committee at this time, reflecting such widespread concerns as junior church and extended church school sessions for younger children, the nature of the adult educational offerings, the development of a leadership training program, and the value of involvement packets or other enrichment materials. Study papers will be introduced at this session, possibly including the following topics:

"The Nature of Scripture"

"The Nature of the Church"

"The Nature of the Gospel"

"Church History"

 



    *Nov. 13, 14 - At this two-day session, the major part of the time will be spent on a discussion of the study papers introduced at the preceding session, plus a consideration of these additional papers:
"The Nature of Man"
"Revelation"
"Zion"
"The Challenge of the New Situation"     
    *Dec. 4, 1967 - On this date further conversations on the study papers will held, if needed.
    *Jan. 22, 1968 - At this session we will be focusing primarily on the tentative structure of the curriculum as proposed by the Basic Working Committee. This structuring will include unit topics, themes, and proposed approach.
    Recommendations for writers will also be shared at this time.
    *Feb. 26 and April 15 - These dates are left open to provide for the possibility of continuing discussions not fully resolved at previous sessions, or for the Curriculum Consultation Committee's appraisal of the work prosecuted thus far in the development of the curriculum. Other definite dates will be set aside for regular meetings from time to time so that the larger committee can be kept abreast of the progress of the curriculum project.
    May '68-Feb. '69 - During this period the Basic Working Committee will be working with writers of the A courses. This will undoubtedly entail writers conferences and personal interviews both in the central stakes and in outlying areas of the church. Close contact between the supervising editor and the writer is essential at every stage of the development of a course of study.
    Concurrently, the Basic Working Committee will be selecting and contracting writers for the B courses, and will also be developing strategies and preparing materials for leadership education in conjunction with introducing and interpreting the new curriculum to the church in general and the religious education workers in particular.
    Feb. '69-Oct. 69 - During this period the Basic Working Committee will be engaged in the editorial processing of the manuscripts, including the development of art work and enrichment materials.
    By Oct 1, 1969, the A courses will have been sent to Herald House for further processing, with the expectation that the materials will be on the market by the spring of 1970.
    The big job facing the Basic Working Committee at this point is the promoting of the curriculum in such a way that teachers and students will bring a sense of readiness to their encounter with it that fall. Hopefully, the new curriculum will be introduced officially to the church at the World Conference that spring.
    The schedule for the development of the B courses and the C courses (if there be C courses) will be similar to that of the A courses and will be appropriately staggered. Close cooperation with Herald House with regard to financing the curriculum, pricing the curriculum pieces, respecting production schedules, and advertising the final product will be observed.

 

 

 

 

 
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