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Position Papers Chapter 5

 

RESUME OF PLANNING FOR THE NEW CHURCH SCHOOL CURRICULUM

The following notes are a resume of the planning the Church School Division has done up to the present time. This general planning has grown out of the basic research and discussion in which the division has been involved for the past ten months.

  1. General Philosophy

It is the general consensus of the division that such materials as will be produced shall be planned in accordance with what might perhaps be termed a "life-contextual" approach to curriculum materials. The concern is to speak to the living needs of the particular student, and not just to guarantee confrontation or memorization of certain sets of content. The content of the Christian tradition rather is considered as a resource to be drawn upon for such purposes of illumination and guidance as the curriculum attempts to undertake. For example, the scriptures will seldom be treated by and of themselves, but will rather be evoked and used as they provide the educational resources and Christian insight to deal with a particular problem or question. Similarly with church history or theology; each is used as a resource from which material is to be selected rather than as a subject to be covered and learned. The question to be primarily considered in planning then, is not that of how much scripture or how much church history, but rather of what life questions and problems for the given age bracket and what resources should be employed.

  1. Mechanics of the Curriculum Structure and Operation

It has been tentatively decided that a division of the church school year into three semesters of 20, 20, and 12 weeks is preferable to other arrangements. The advantage of this system is primarily in the fact that it permits the semi-isolation of the summer vacation period from the rest of the year's work. This is not to suggest that the summer material is to be unrelated to the rest of the year, just that the year's work is not to be dependent on a successful summer carry-through, a prospect which has proven most difficult with the present curriculum. In dividing the remainder of the year into two 20 week semesters, this provides two very manageable blocks of time to be used either for two 20 week courses or together to present a single course of 40 sessions.

With regard to the question of the starting time for the school year, there seem to be advantages and disadvantages to every possible date. Dates considered were early September, early October (present, starting time), mid-January, and early June. Of these dates the September one seems to be the most preferable, with the adjustment to the second Sunday of September so as to avoid the problems created by the Labor Day weekend. This coordinates the church school year with the public school year and with the vacation schedule of by far the majority of Americans and Canadians. Such a starting time will result in the different semesters being ended and started at irregular dates, but it is impossible to obtain much better results with any other date owing to the irregularities inherent in the calendar.

Another important question which has been considered is that of age groupings. The problem involves two considerations. On the one hand there is the problem created in any teaching situation when too wide of an age span is represented in any one class. On the other hand is the problem of space and obtaining extra teachers if the number of the classes is increased. It has been tentatively decided to group the church school up through Senior High as follows:

Nursery, age 2 and 3

Middle Primary, grades 3 and 4

Kindergarten, age 4 and 5

Junior, grades 5 and 6

Primary, age 6 and 7
(grades 1 and 2)

Junior High, grades 7, 8, and 9

 

Senior High, grades 10, 11, and 12

 

 

This provides closer grading at the ages of most critical growth acceleration and adds only one extra class to the church school. This of course would put the church school up to Junior on a two year cycle with Junior High and Senior on a three year cycle.

  1. Author Recruitment and Leadership Training

The Department has for the past six months been involved in a recruitment of writers for the new curriculum. This has been pursued first with general requests for name recommendations and then the sending of questionnaires to the names received. The returned questionnaires are then processed and categorized with some initial selection occurring at this time. Prospective writers are then to be given such tests as may be thought appropriate, to be followed by personal consultations before any final writing contracts are established.

Leadership training is considered essential to the acceptance and successful use of the new curriculum. It is to be from the start an integral part of the curriculum. It is presently anticipated that leadership development will precede publication by about one year. It is further hoped that there will be some type of periodical literature developed by the Church School Division to continue the process of assisting leaders and supplementing the curriculum. The exact form of such literature is yet to be decided.

  1. Adult Materials

The new curriculum as discussed above is to involve the church school up through Senior High. The Adult program and materials are not to be an integral part of the graded curriculum. However, a broad cycle of topics is to be developed for adult study, with materials prepared to first complete the offerings of the cycle and then to replace such aspects of the cycle as have become dysfunctional for one reason or another. The Adult materials will follow the three semester breakdown of the graded curriculum with the same starting time for the church school year.



 
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