Judah Bible Curriculum

Teaching Bible to my children is an important part of our curriculum; probably the most important thing I will ever teach my children. It is so important, that I will carefully examine a Bible curriculum to make sure that I agree with its theological and educational views.

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What it is: Judah Bible Curriculum is a chronological Bible curriculum, which uses the Principal Approach method. I was unfamiliar with the Principal Approach, so I needed to familiarize myself with this educational program.

The Principle Approach method is a consistent and ordered way of teaching which promotes Christian character and self-government. The focus is seeing God’s Providential hand in history, while having the goal of becoming internally governed. Four steps of learning are emphasized: research, reason, relate and record. The notebooking method is key to this process; it is a daily record of what has been learned and is built upon year after year. 

As a part of this curriculum you will take a year to go through the Bible, which is divided into five themes:

Theme 1: Creation
Theme 2: The Plan of Redemption Begins
Theme 3: Kingdom of Israel
Theme 4: Kingdom of God
Theme 5: Early Church

Each week you will focus on a Key Topic. The first four are Creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall, and the Flood. During the week you use Key Sheets which when filled out, would be added to your child's notebook. There are four different types of Key Sheets:

Key Individuals (such as Adam or Joseph)
Key Documents (the garden command or the Noahic covenant)
Key Events (creation, the tower of Babel)
Key Institutions (pre-fall society or pre-flood society)

The Key Sheets have all sorts of questions on them to guide discussion and writing. Questions include topics such as spiritual influence, the causes of an event, examining government at that time, and the mental disposition of the individuals being studied. 

Younger children can also draw artwork and give one sentence descriptions, while older children are encouraged to write paragraphs and essays. Everything the student writes or creates goes into the notebook, with the goal being to add information at every class session.

This curriculum is a one time purchase and meant to be used year after year. It will take 4 years to go through the whole curriculum; each year you focus on different events and individuals. Every 4 years you would repeat the entire schedule. Since your children are older the next time through, the topics would have more depth and meaning. This would also be a helpful curriculum when teaching Bible to multi-aged children.

What you get: The curriculum comes with the K-12 Teacher Manual, an Elementary Notebooking Ideas Booklet, and eight teacher training seminars on audio. You can purchase either a hard copy or the e-book version. I received the e-book version, which is $44 on the website. According to the manual, the only other main resource you will need to use is the Bible. The Bible is the textbook, with occasional referencing to a concordance or dictionary. 

The Teacher Manual is in an Adobe Reader format and has an overview of implementing the curriculum, master Key Sheets, the weekly Theme Guide, and timelines for further reference. The curriculum is a teacher-intensive program; the day-to-day decisions and discussions are left completely up to you. A daily lesson plan is not provided; for instance in the first week the manual states the weekly theme focus is Creation, the scripture reference is Genesis 1:1-25, and the suggested memory verse or weekly theme is Genesis 1:1. The rest is left up to you; what Key Sheets you choose to do and any other resources you decide to study. You can see the scope and sequence on the website here.

The Elementary Notebooking Ideas Booklet is a compilation of ideas to use for younger children. Some examples are a family tree of Judah, artwork from creation, and a letter to God. I was hoping that in this booklet there would be templates for me to print off to use with my children, but only samples that have been completed are shown. The format is also hard to read; some of the pages go back and forth between horizontal and vertical orientation.

There are eight audio files included; four of these are of the author speaking about different parts of Bible history, from creation to Revelation. These are meant to be listened to as you progress through the year. The other four are teacher training seminars which should be listened to before beginning to teach the course to ensure that the curriculum is properly implemented. They are titled:

Philosophy - Why and How
Methods
How God Changes Nations
Key Individuals - Joseph

These are lectures by the author, Bill Burtness, and are recordings of his teacher training seminars held for educators. 

So what do I think: Our family did this curriculum for about three weeks. Each week we read the scripture reference aloud. Then we did one Key Sheet per week: the first week we did a Key Individual Sheet on Adam, the second week we did a Key Institution Sheet on pre-fall society, and the third week we focused on the Garden Command with a Key Document Sheet.

I was delighted with the conversations that came from doing the Key Sheets. We talked about Adam, and what an incredible spiritual influence he had from God, being able to walk and talk with Him. We talked about what life was like before the fall, and how through one man's sin we all became sinners. And because of our discussions, I really wanted to like this.

Except for one big problem. While listening to the audio seminar on philosophy I was disturbed by some of the things I heard Mr. Burtress say about redemption:

"When we come to Christ we suddenly begin to follow the Lord and do what is right, simply because it is right and because God says that it’s right, and because it is the most intelligent thing to do. We decided that we are going to follow him as we get to know God more and more, and get to know the Lord Jesus and what he’s has done for us. Then it gives added motivation to continue to do what is right. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians the love of Christ controls us…when I know the Lord Jesus and what he’s done for me, then it makes me want to do what I am supposed to do. Because I don’t want to grieve him and I don’t want to bring anymore grief to his heart then is already there, and I love him. And I know what he requires of me is intelligent and right, and so I want to live an intelligent life. So in this way the love of Christ is controlling me. I am choosing what the Lord wants me to choose. I am controlling myself under God.“

But the Scriptures say:

"As it is written, None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks after God." ~Romans 3:10-11

And,

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." ~John 6:44a

Apart from Christ, His saving grace, and the Holy Spirit, I would never choose what is right, only sin.
  
And on the seminar tape titled How God Changes Nations I heard him say:

“God has a destiny for us. We need to be able to show [to our children] how important individual character is to God and being able to fulfill his destiny in their lives. And from there we can show how stupid sin is. If we can pass on an idea that sin is absolutely stupid …that righteousness is the only intelligent way to live, then they [our children] will grow up a whole lot.”

I do believe God has a destiny for us, to live for His glory. But left to myself, I would not lead my children heavenward, showing them how horrible sin is. Thanks be to God that it is not up to me and that it is only by His grace that He gives me the strength to educate my charges.

The bottom line: For our family, redemption is the basis of our faith. And using a curriculum that begins with a different theology than mine would be like stepping out in the opposite direction from where I want to go. I also know that with the teacher-intensive focus, and the demands that it would place on me, that this would be a harder curriculum for our family to implement.

 But I don't like to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Notebooking is an excellent way to comprehend and record what you have learned. Notebooking though, is not exclusive to using the Principal Approach Method; on the contrary as an eclectic homeschooler I use notebooking more than I realize. There are those of you that might agree with his theology, or can work around the differences. You might also appreciate the liberties and flexibility you are given as a teacher with this curriculum. But for our family, this curriculum is one I would choose not to use.

Please check out what other members of The Crew are saying about this product here.

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.









Comments

  1. Excellent review, Charlotte! Thorough, balanced, and honest. Great job!

    --Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much, Nancy! :-)

    ReplyDelete

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