At the tender age of five and with lunchbox in hand, I walked across town to attend Kindergarten at Lake City Public Schools (our mascot was the Catfish!). There I was blessed with a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Norma Stotts. To this day all of my class members look back and remember Mrs. Stotts's class with fondness. The next year I was once again blessed to be under the tutelage of Mrs. Betty Owens, the wife of our superintendent. My mom's careful encouragement at home had me already reading the newspaper (somewhat) before showing up at Kindergarten, and by the time I left the First Grade, I was doing great at the three Rs.
Looking back, I realize that two factors contributed greatly to the excellence of these two ladies and many others like them in the teaching profession. First, they were passionately committed to their callings. Second, they had the opportunity to teach the same material year after year and to hone their proficiency in the subject matter to razor-sharpness.
- In elementary school, teachers teach the same lessons year-after-year, refining them as time goes by to achieve excellent specialization in teaching that material.
- In high school, teachers teach the same lessons year-after-year.
- In college, professors specialize in a field of study and teach the same lessons year-after-year.
- In flight training, flight instructors generally teach the same lessons to beginning students time-after-time.
- In professional schools, instructors teach the same lessons year-after-year.
- Indeed, in virtually every setting where people take education seriously, a fixed scope and sequence of curriculum enables teachers to specialize in teaching specific lessons year-after-year.
So why don't our Sunday Schools work that way?
If the Second-Grade Sunday School curriculum involved precisely the same lessons on the same weeks year-after-year, couldn't teachers achieve mastery of teaching those particular Bible stories? Couldn't the church invest in just the right books, manipulatives, and other materials to teach just those lessons, making capital expenditures toward the fixed curriculum of the class? Wouldn't service as an assistant in that particular class for a couple of years constitute a much better preparation for teaching the class on one's own?
Is there any advantage to a random rotation through Bible stories with new curriculum every year? I mean, of course, other than the fact that you get to sell new curriculum every year?
I don't have any degrees in education, religious or otherwise, so I'm sincerely asking questions. If we're serious about making biblically literate disciples, is our current method, which seems to depart so markedly from other educational systems around us, a good one?