Can't Always Blame Curriculum If Bible Teaching Not Going Well

Teacher questions what went wrong

Perhaps your students seem disinterested. You could blame it on the curriculum -- lessons must not be relevant.
Maybe your students are frustrated. You could blame it on the curriculum -- content must be too theoretical, not within your students' ability to understand.
Or, your students could be bored. You could blame it on the curriculum -- methods and visuals must not be creative enough.
Perhaps your students don't seem to be growing. You could blame it on your curriculum -- content must not be deep enough.

Should you be changing to a different curriculum?

The most glaring reason to switch to a new curriculum is if it is not doctrinally sound. Also, if it consistently appears to miss the mark developmentally or in the teaching-learning process, then it is time to consider using a different curriculum. Ideally questions about these issues should be asked when choosing curriculum not once it is in use.
Is the problem really the curriculum or the way the curriculum is being used? Teachers must step back and consider a couple realities about any curriculum:

  1. All curriculum will undoubtedly have its pluses and minuses. Remember, the Word of God is the inspired writing, not the curriculum. The Word of God is infallible, not the curriculum. Yet, you should be using curriculum that seems to line up with what the Bible teaches, employing sound hermeneutics (means of interpreting it).
  2. Curriculum writers develop curriculum for the general church populace. They cannot tap into each unique setting. Consequently, the curriculum will not always fit your particular students, facilities, or time schedule. Yet, it should at least be in the general age level needs and ability range of your students. A plus would be if it provides alternative ideas for methods that require a specific setup.

Should you be changing the way you use your curriculum?

If you tend to prepare lessons by only reading through the teacher's manual, then you need to change the way you use your curriculum. God's Word is the real Teaching Manual. You need to view curriculum more as a tool. Read: Lesson Prep: Awareness Needed
If you tend to always use the curriculum exactly as it is written, then you need to change the way you use your curriculum. You sometimes need to tailor it to your situation or to your students' needs and interests. Check out this resource: When You Need to Adjust the Curriculum Worksheet
If you teach out of the teacher's manual, reading word for word, then you need to change the way you use your curriculum. You are relying too much on the curriculum. It is not intended to be read verbatim but rather to be used as a guide.

Learn to make "tweaks" in lessons to adjust it where needed.

  • Does the introduction need to be tweaked to make it more relevant to your students' interests?
  • Do methods or visuals need to be tweaked to make them more interesting to your students or to better fit your facilities or time schedule? Perhaps you need to skip or add activities but if you do so, watch you do not lose the flow of the lesson.
  • Do you need to add more depth or detail to the lesson because your students already know the truths being presented?
  • Do you need to bring it down to your students' level by focusing in on only the general concepts being presented?
  • Does the application need to be tweaked to make it more relevant to your students' life experiences?

Sometimes tweaking will mean simply changing illustrations within the introduction or application but it could mean redoing the entire section.
Sometimes tweaking can be as simple as using guiding questions to fill in the gaps, add to, or clarify what the curriculum provides.
Sometimes tweaking involves merely making adjustments to methodology but it could require looking at completely different Bible teaching methods.
On occasion it might be necessary to lay aside the entire lesson plan and write your own Bible lesson. However, in most cases, you should still use the same topic or key passage. One of the purposes of using curriculum is to insure that through the course of time, people receive a well-rounded understanding of Scripture. The scope and sequence chart used by curriculum companies maps out that plan. This is most essential for children's classes.

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