Engaging in the Biblical Work in Middle and Upper Schools
I recently shared a conversation with my colleague and friend, Arneal Strain, the Pastor of Discipleship for Cross-Cultural Missions at my school. He declared, “Scripture confronts the heart, convicts the heart, and changes the heart.” After reading through the entire Bible chronologically in 2022 following The Bible Recap daily podcast, I can attest to his words. Through this incredible year-long journey, my understanding of God’s people deepened, the greatness of His story magnified, and the clarity of the Biblical work Christians must engage in crystallized. It opened my eyes and heart to the impact the love of Christ has on myself and the world. It renewed a sense of awe and wonder of the power of Scripture.
Alongside reading the Bible, I completed a graduate course called Issues in Diversity. Introducing me to a multitude of somewhat controversial texts about social justice and diversity, it explored topics such as intersectionality, White and Christian privilege, and multicultural education. Without a doubt, the Biblical work I had been engaging in before starting this course 1) humbled me enough to put aside personal and political perspectives, so I could truly learn from these various texts, 2) challenged me to seek Him first for His Truth, and 3) encouraged me to pray for His discernment throughout my learning. It revealed a learning process in which His Word was inextricably connected to everything I was learning. This was a “gong” moment for me with Christian Deeper Learning because it underscored the distinctly Christian component that separates it from all other Deeper Learning models—the transforming power of Scripture in the lives of teachers and students.
As one who is always considering curriculum and instructional practices, this epiphany has prompted many questions about the prominence of Scripture in middle and upper school classrooms, where the trappings of college requirements vie for complete attention and dissuade teachers from swerving away from subject learning standards. However, I share these questions wondering if they may be at the heart of empowering our students to 1) be humbled, 2) challenged, and 3) encouraged to confidently engage in the world in which they are growing up.
What hidden curriculum do our practices reveal about where students can find Truth? Is there a need to be more intentional?
Where is Scripture found within the learning standards? How is it prioritized among other subject skills and knowledge?
Do subject standards determine Biblical integration, or do Bible standards determine subject integration? Is there a difference?
Is Scripture interwoven within subject units of study to inspire more profound awe and wonder about God’s greater narrative? Or are a few verses tacked on to the guiding questions?
Do students see Scripture as the primary source for knowing Jesus’ whole story? Do they engage with Scripture as much as other primary sources, or even alongside them?
Are classes taught with the ultimate goal of seeing how subjects interconnect and fit into God’s greater narrative? Or is God’s greater narrative fit into the subject? Is there a difference?
Are the themes and literary techniques from Scripture explored alongside required literature books? Are Biblical texts paired with required literature texts for comparison/contrast?
I also share these questions so that I and others can learn from your answers. How do your students engage in Biblical work at your middle and upper schools?