Posts belonging to Category Education

Bible Curriculum for Public Schools (2)

I meet monthly with a group of local clergy for lunch, fellowship and planning. Over the past year we have been in conversation with the Superintendent of Schools about the possible addition of an elective class on the Bible to be taught at the high school level in our town. The superintendent has been very open to talking with us about this proposal and recently set up a meeting with the School Committee where we could present the course for consideration. A reporter from the local paper was invited, and you can read the summary of the meeting here.

The curriculum we are recommending is called The Bible and Its Influence, produced by the Bible Literacy Project. The course examines the Bible’s influence on literature and culture and is appropriate for use in public schools. I looked through the curriculum and was very impressed. It has received sterling endorsements from a wide variety of scholars and teachers. You can also preview the “inside of the book” at Amazon if you want to take a closer look for yourself.

Previous post in series:

The Bible and Its Influence Books relating to Bible literacy:

Bible Curriculum for Public Schools (1)

Most people would agree that the Bible is one of the most important documents in history. However, because it is also a religious book, public schools are sometimes hesitant to teach about the Bible due to issues of separation of church and state. In 1963, however, the Supreme Court made a ruling not against the study of the Bible in public schools, but rather against the devotional, religious use of the Bible in public schools. Supreme Court Justice Clark stated:

“It might be well said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literacy and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.” [School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963)]

There are two main Bible curricula currently available for those public schools that would like to make an elective class on the Bible available to their students. These two curriculum choices are summarized below.

  1. The Bible in History and Literature
    Produced by: The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools

    The curriculum for the program shows a concern to convey the content of the Bible as compared to literature and history. The program is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students. The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education.

  2. The Bible and Its Influence
    Produced by: The Bible Literacy Project

    A primary goal of the course is basic Biblical literacy—a grasp of the language, major narratives, and characters of the Bible. The course also explores the influence of the Bible in classic and contemporary poems, plays, and novels. Of course, the Bible is not merely literature—for a number of religious traditions it is sacred text. Our curriculum and online teacher training prepare teachers to address the relevant, major religious readings of the text in an academic and objective manner.

Further information concerning both of these curricula and their individual approaches is available at their respective websites as indicated above. Further information concerning the use of the Bible in public schools with respect to the First Amendment is available through the First Amendment Center at the following links:

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A Vision of Students Today

How much has going to school changed? Kansas State University Professor Michael Wesch and the students in his Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class created an interesting video profiling a vision of students today. The following answers were compiled from the answers of 133 students (out of 200) who responded to the survey questions.

  • My average class size is 115.
  • 18% of my teachers know my name.
  • I complete 49% of the readings assigned to me. Only 26% are relevant to my life.
  • I buy hundred dollar textbooks that I never open.
  • My neighbor paid for class but never comes.
  • I will read 8 books this year, 2300 web pages, & 1281 Facebook profiles.
  • I will write 42 pages for class this semester and over 500 pages of email.
  • I get 7 hours of sleep each night! I spend 1.5 hours watching TV each night. I spend 3.5 hours a day online. I listen to music 2.5 hours a day. I spend 2 hours on my cell phone, spend 3 hours in class, 2 hours eating. I work 2 hours every day, 3 hours studying. That’s a total of 26.5 hours every day.
  • I am a multi-tasker. (I have to be.)
  • I will be $20,000 in debt after graduation! I’m one of the lucky ones.
  • When I graduate I will probably have a job that doesn’t exist today.
  • I Facebook through most of my classes.
  • I bring my laptop to class, but I’m not working on class stuff.

What do you think? Is this an accurate picture of students today? I have to say, I would not have been able to make any of those statements when I was in school, except maybe for the 7 hours of sleep and 2 hours eating! 🙂

HT: Noel Heikkinen

My Embarrassing First Day at Seminary

Twenty years ago this September I attended my first day of seminary. I was serving as youth pastor at a church in Burbank, CA at the time, and figured if I was going to continue pastoring, I should get some theological training. So here I was headed back to school three years after graduating from college.

I opted to go to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA to work on my biblical languages first. They offered language intensives where you could take a full year of Greek or Hebrew in just ten weeks. I decided to take Greek in the fall and Hebrew in the spring. So off I went to Greek class in September of 1987, my very first day at seminary. (I eventually transferred to Gordon-Conwell in Massachusetts the next year and completed my seminary training there.)

I was a little nervous going back to school after three years, so I tried to prepare myself the best I could. I got my syllabus early and purchased all my textbooks in advance. I scoped out the campus the week before and found exactly where my classroom was located. I packed my briefcase full of books and left extra early the morning of class to make sure I got there on time.

We all crowded into the classroom, and the professor introduced himself to the class. He wrote his contact information on the board and told us to write it down for future reference. I opened up my briefcase to get out a notebook when I realized that I didn’t have one. In all my preparations for class I had forgotten to get a notebook. I searched frantically through my briefcase for a piece of paper, any piece of paper, but I had none – just a bunch of Greek textbooks that I didn’t want to write in.

I got the attention of the student seated at the desk next to me. “Excuse, me. Could I borrow a piece of paper?” He looked at me a little strangely, but opened up his three-ring binder FILLED with college-ruled white paper and gave me several sheets.

I was so embarrassed. Here I was at my first day of class for my Master’s degree of all things, and I had not even brought any paper. “Oh well, Lord,” I prayed, “I guess it’s good to be humbled.” I opened my briefcase again to get out a pen to write down the teacher’s contact information. No pen. I got the attention of the student next to me again. “Excuse me, could I borrow a pen?”

That’s all I remember from my first day at seminary. But God is good, and I got through, and yes, it is good to be humbled.

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News and Notes – 9/4/2007

Return trip. A burglar in New Zealand broke into a family’s home through a window, stole some electronics and a credit card, and then came back later the same day to return the stolen goods – along with the new items he had purchased with the stolen credit card. He left everything on the kitchen table along with an apology note and a promise to drop off some cash later to pay for the broken window.

Grade inflation. Honors journalism students in Naples, FL are graded not only on how well they write, but on how many ads they sell for the high school yearbook. The syllabus says $600 will get you an A, $500 will get you a B, $400 gets a C, $300 gets a D and less than $300 worth of ads sold will earn a student an F on the assignment. Does anyone else think this is a bad idea?

Dog heir. Hotel operator and real estate investor Leona Helmsley, who died August 20, 2007, left $12 million dollars to her dog. The article doesn’t say who gets the money when the dog dies.

Billy Madison Goes Back to School

Here is a little Adam Sandler clip for everyone heading back to school.

(Video length: 0:32)

“Back to school! Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool! I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight! Ohhhh, back to school! Back to school! Back to school! Well, here goes nothing!”

HT: Provocations and Pantings

A Little Poem on Learning Greek

Any Greek students out there? You should appreciate this little poem written by a first-year student of Scot McKnight [cited in McKnight’s New Testament Greek Grammatical Analysis, 76, n. 6.]

Greek is a language,
At least it used to be.
It killed off all the Greeks
And now it’s killing me.

All have died who ever spoke it.
All have died who ever wrote it.
All will die who ever learn it.
Blessed death, they surely earn it!

Aaaaah, the good old days of learning Greek. I remember working as a night watchman in seminary from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., racing home, showering and eating breakfast, and then getting to Greek class by 8 a.m. Only by the grace of God I got through!

HT: Illumination

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News and Notes 8/20/2007

Back to school. A 94-year-old Australian woman has become the world’s oldest person to earn a university master’s degree. Phyllis Turner began studying for her postgraduate degree at age 90 and received her Medical Science Master’s Degree from Australia’s Adelaide University earlier this summer. The great-great-grandmother completed her research paper on the anthropological history of Australia prior to European settlement. Degree supervisor Professor Maciej Henneberg said, “She has a lively mind.”

Tough crowd. A new Gallup Poll finds Congress’ approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

Fail safe. Last week 10-year-old Daniel Jancura accidentally locked himself inside a safe on display at Sam’s Club. It took firefighters and store employees fifteen minutes to get him out. This week a 73-year-old woman was trapped in a bank after employees accidentally locked her in the building while she was looking over the contents of her safe deposit box. She was discovered unconscious by a cleaning person six hours later. So, remind me, why do we call these things “safe?”

All the Presidents Win

One of the pet peeves at our home is the “Everyone’s a winner” philosophy. Yes, I know, we are probably way too competitive, but for some reason this really annoys us. We groan when we see a bumper sticker that says, “Every child is an honor student at such and such a school.” We rebel against the idea that excellence cannot be recognized and that all efforts should be equally rewarded.

Our youngest son, Timothy, entered a reading contest at the library this summer. Every time you read a certain number of books, you put a ticket in the pot. The grand prize? Two brand new shiny bicycles – one for a girl and one for a boy. Timothy was really hoping for that bicycle, so he was very excited when my wife brought him to the library last week for drawing day.

Now this contest was not even based on ability or skill. This was a simple drawing a ticket from a box. And yet the woman in charge reminded all the kids before the drawing was made, “I just want you to remember, everyone’s a winner!” Timothy sighed, “Yeah, right!” If everyone’s a winner, then why doesn’t everyone ride home on a shiny new bike?

We were talking about this at the dinner table later in the evening. Of course the motivation is good, the adults don’t want any of the kids to feel bad, but our boys said that all the kids see right through it. And it doesn’t reflect real life when these same kids will later be competing for real jobs and scholarships and championships.

I asked the boys, “What if they ran the presidential race like this? What if they told all the presidential candidates, “It doesn’t matter whether you actually become president or not. Everyone’s a winner!” I liked my son Ramon’s suggestion, “You could give them all participation ribbons!”

No, Timothy did not win the bike. So what are your thoughts on “everyone’s a winner”? Feel free to disagree.

10 Tips for College Students

Here are 10 Tips for College Students Getting Ready for Fall from college professor John Mark Reynolds. These are great tips for both entering and returning students.

  1. Ignore advice to “remake” yourself the first day you get to college … Your family history and heritage matter … be wary of making big changes quickly.
  2. Do something each week that puts you in contact with people older and younger than your peer group.
  3. If you have a decent relationship with your parents keep it up. Remember that they are going through a tough transition too.
  4. If you are going to college, then go. You are in college to learn … School is your full time job, put fifty hours a week into it or go home.
  5. Find a faculty mentor during your first year. If you cannot, then your college is charging you for an education it cannot deliver.
  6. Take classes that are hard from full-time professors that love to teach.
  7. Secretaries and support staff are overworked, underpaid, and very powerful. You should be good to them out of virtue, but you must do it to thrive.
  8. Books are not yet antiques. Go to the library. Talk to librarians … Spend hours a day reading.
  9. Don’t be too quick to pick a major, but try to do so by the end of the first year.
  10. Live like an adult in college which includes moderating your passions.

Those are just the main points. Be sure to read the whole article for more of John’s thoughts relating to each of the points presented above.

58% of U.S. Adults Do Not Read Books

58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school. (Church Leader’s Intelligence Report; via Dr. Sam Lamerson)

Can you imagine never reading another book after high school? If you are a book reader, how would your life be different without books? If you do not read books, is there a reason why not? You are reading this, so I know that you are at least a blog reader. What is it about books that keeps you from reading them?

Note: According to the US Census Bureau, 27 percent of U.S. adults age 25 and over had a college degree in 2003. I am assuming that all 27% of them read at least one book after high school. (It’s hard to get through college without reading a book.) I wonder how many of them have read at least one book since graduating from college?

Related post: Thieves of Their Own Imaginations

The Answer is NOT Always “C”

I found this story about a college student who got a zero on a 100 question True/False Communications Final amusing. His professor sent him the following email the next day:

Dear Michael,

Every year I attempt to boost my students’ final grades by giving them this relatively simple exam consisting of 100 True/False questions from only 3 chapters of material. For the past 20 years that I have taught Intro Communications 101 at this institution I have never once seen someone score below a 65 on this exam. Consequently, your score of a zero is the first in history and ultimately brought the entire class average down a whole 8 points.

There were two possible answer choices: A (True) and B (False). You chose C for all 100 questions in an obvious attempt to get lucky with a least a quarter of the answers. It’s as if you didn’t look at a single question. Unfortunately, this brings your final grade in this class to failing. See you next year!

May God have mercy on your soul.

Professor William Turner

P.S. If all else fails, go with B from now on.   B is the new C.

So, have you ever just filled in the answers at random on a multiple choice test?

Update: Here is a picture of the student’s actual test. Notice the T and F printed prominently over the A and B columns.

True False Test

HT: Wandering Ink.