June 03, 2014

The Christian Post Says We Need More Bible in the Classroom
(And I Absolutely Agree)

I will be completely honest. I saw the headline "Bringing the Bible Back to the Classroom: New ELA Educational Standards Make Room for Scripture" on the Christian Post, I was prepared to be horribly awfully offended.

I was prepared to stomp my feet and gnash my teeth and complain.

In a post by Carlos Campot, he statest:
Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. A nationwide poll found that 60 percent of Americans could not identify even five of the Ten Commandments, and another survey revealed that 39 percent of Millennials never read the Bible.
Dr. Campo believes that new educational standards—the ELA requirements in the Common Core, actually—have considerable room for the Bible to be brought back into classrooms.

And I agree. Although perhaps not for all of the same reasons.

Dr. Campo for instance states that:
As a Christian by faith and English professor by training, I know biblical literacy is essential for a meaningful life of faith, and has innumerable ancillary benefits, both academic and personal. Like most Christians, I testify that the Bible has been “a rock and a fortress” for me in times of difficult, and a “lamp under my feet” to guide me as a father, husband and teacher.
So…I don’t necessarily think public school students need the Bible for those reasons. If those are reasons they need the Bible, it should most certainly be something that they encounter at home, under the spiritual guidance of their families.

Spiritual guidance is not, I’d like to reiterate, the job of our schools or teachers, nor is it a component of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

What I do agree with, wholeheartedly, is the idea that the Bible has greatly influenced Western culture. From Shakespeare to the founding fathers to modernist rebellions, the Bible presents us with a rich and varied source text for so many cultural applications.

It’s also a complex text, something else that Dr. Campo notes, that requires students to explore it in light of various language and other differences.
I absolutely agree that there are many reasons that the Bible, as a text, is appropriate for public schools classrooms. In fact, I read the Bible in three different classes in high school—two English, one sociology.
So I’d like to add one last quote, that I wholeheartedly agree with, from Dr. Campo:
To be clear, we are not contending for the state to impose Christian values on all American students; faith is rightly nurtured in the home and through our many church traditions. Yet, as one of the most highly influential complex texts available for the classroom, it’s time for students to once again discover the Bible’s unique content, acknowledge its world-changing historical impact, and appreciate its culture-shaping history.
Hear, hear, Dr. Campo. I absolutely agree.

The Common Core State Standards leave room for a wide variety of texts. As we explore what the standards mean for education, we will explore different pieces of literature and what they mean for the post-CCSSI classroom. It will be important to establish texts that students read to explore cultural connotations within other texts. In this context, I think students exploring the Bible is actually important. Because CCSS requires students to be able to analyze texts at a deeper level, the source documents are more important than ever.

So let's bring the Bible into the classroom.

But let's make sure we keep it in its proper place.

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