Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Study the Bible Using...the Bible??

From the JBC Website: The Judah Bible Curriculum is a Principle Approach Bible study program. The doctrinal emphasis is left to the teacher. The Judah Bible Curriculum contains teacher training materials to help the teacher, but then the teacher uses his own doctrinal grid to teach his students, and the students study the details from the Scriptures.

Guest Reviewer and Poster: Hubby

When I first started reviewing The Judah Bible Curriculum, I realized this program requires significant commitment of time, prayer, and preparation.  Not that the level of commitment should deter a parent from using it, but the parent should be aware of what they are prayerfully taking on.  We are all called to teach the Scriptures to our children, "talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up"  (Det. 11:19)  Furthermore, God instructs us to "lay up these words of Mine in your heart and your soul" (Det 11:18)  

So my first question was: "Does The Judah Bible Curriculum provide the best path for my family and me to get God's Word into our heads, hearts, and souls?"

To answer that question, I needed to read as much as I could about it, and this curriculum includes plenty of reading.  The manual is about hundred pages of teaching philosophy, implementation guidance, and detailed information/resources for five Biblical themes of study.  Eight teacher training audio seminars are also provided that better explain the key concepts.  These lectures are information-rich, though the delivery is mild and requires what my wife would say is a dutiful, very attentive student vice one with who is not committed to gleaning from the instructor's knowledge.

About an hour later, I was impressed.  Yes, this curriculum does require significant parental involvement (preferably both parents), but it also incorporates the usual study of Biblical events and people with extensive historical and governmental themes, Scripture memory, as well as a very personalized, intense Bible study. Students and teachers alike will grow to notice the hand of God in history and in the lives of individuals. Ultimately, they will draw conclusions about the connection of character and liberty, making them better citizens and Christians. 

Both teacher and students develop their own Bible study notebooks through the year, and will add deeper layers to them over time as understanding and insight increase.  Students are encouraged to do their best work at all times, and to spend dedicated time on each Bible passage, reading every word instead of just broadly covering events. You may view the Scope and Sequence here.

All work in the Judah Bible Curriculum is focused on Biblical principles through analysis of the "keys" (key individuals, key institutions, key events, and key documents) for each Biblical theme.  The curriculum provides special sheets (which are very simple, but useful) to help you frame your understanding of the key ideas. A key element is that God's sovereignty in individuals frame the role of government.  

This approach rang true for me in three ways:
  1.  Individual freedoms are a gift from God, not a intrinsic mandate that negates personal responsibilit.,   
  2. Government receives its power and bounds of influence from its citizens.
  3. A Christian nation requires citizens with Christian character.  

The six-year curriculum uses the Bible as its textbook to develop Biblical understanding and character in the teachers and student. You are encouraged to supplement the study with maps and time lines, to increase understanding of the world of the Bible and its relation to history and to the world of today.

Ultimately, I determined that JBC was an exceptional tool that we will incorporate into God's best plan for training our children.  While the $44 price for a downloadable copy  (or $74 for hard copy delivery) of the teaching text, a book of notebooking ideas for elementary students, the four key sheets, and eight audio lessons on how to implement the curriculum may seem expensive to some (the downloadable materials are provided on a membership site), most education textbooks cost more and deliver less.  JBC requires time, but it would be time well spent.

What does Mom have to add?
  1. I found this curriculum to be intimidating at first. However, once my Hubby took over and became enthusiastic, I realized it could work. Its method is more up his alley than mine, and if he can use this approach to be more involved with our children's Biblical education (especially our 14 year old), I am all for it. While I do not believe I would use it on my own (though I grow more comfortable with it the more time I spend with it), the website offers a walk-through of a lesson, and you have eight audios to listen to which help familiarize you with the approach and the specific keys/themes/topics. I believe that once you learn the method, this program would prove to be a very enriching and illuminating homeschool (or non-homeschool) Bible study.
  2. JBC uses the notebooking approach. I like this idea, as having a growing and changing "textbook" made  and understood by each of my children is appealing. However, due to the young ages of my four younger children (ages 2-8), this curriculum requires additional time to prepare for use. I had to search the Internet for coloring pages for the younger ones and found it is easy to get lost on rabbit trails...The "Key" pages were too much for my 8 year old, and while the downloadable book of notebooking ideas (examples of pages) is nice, you still have to thoroughly plan (create) and prepare for each lesson ahead of time. This is not the sort of curriculum you can start on a moment's notice, or walk into without preparation. Prayer is a large component of this plan, which is excellent, but this method does require some practice, especially if you are used to workbooks and/or texts.

To see what others on the Crew thought of the Judah Bible Curriculum, check out the Crew blog.


Disclaimer: I was provided with a downloadable copy of the Judah Bible Curriculum for the purposes of writing this review. All opinions are my own, or that of my family, and they are our honest thoughts and considerations about this product. If you have any questions concerning this review, please feel free to comment or contact me.

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