.Nameplate
Sidebar                                                            Page 29

 

Guidelines for a Bible-Based

Course Elective  

BY PAUL RIEDE 

Even when it’s to be offered as an elective, introducing a Bible-based course in a public school can be a time-consuming, complicated exercise.

The experts on church-state protections and scholarly studies of the Bible consulted for this article had a few suggestions for school district leaders:

  • Be open and inclusive from the start about the course’s aims and parameters. “It’s not something you want to hide from the public and try to sneak in because that’s where you run into trouble,” says Bill Adkins, a retired assistant superintendent who runs training courses for the Bible Literacy Project.
  • Be certain everyone understands the course is for academic enrichment, not spiritual instruction.
  • Be selective about who teaches the course. Outsiders, such as a Bible teacher or someone else from a faith organization, might bring a bias. So might a teacher who volunteers for spiritual reasons.
  • Find an inservice program or other training if the teacher assigned to the course does not have a background in scholarly religious studies.
  • Understand that any version of the Bible can send a sectarian message. The heavily used King James version supports a traditionally Protestant view. Allow students to use the Bible of their choice.
  • Focusing on the Bible as literature can be less problematic than teaching it as a history course.
  • After the course begins, monitor it carefully to make sure it is properly taught. Don’t assume everything is OK if no one complains; students and parents are sometimes too intimidated by the majority culture to make their concerns known.

 

feedbackicon
Give your feedback

ICON-facebook-35px
Share this article

bookicon
Order this issue