The Neglected Curriculum

curriculum.jpeg.jpgDr. Paul Faulkner, one of my former professors, taught at Abilene Christian University for many years.  He taught Marriage and Family Therapy and a number of other related courses.  On several different occasions, I heard him speak of the "neglected curriculum."  Paul believed that there were certain gaps in the education and home life of many children.  There were important concerns, skills, values, etc. that were never taught.

I am wondering what you think.  Please reflect for a moment on some of the homes and some of the churches you have known.  What is the neglected curriculum in each?

What is the neglected curriculum in so many homes?  Have you observed that children often grow up with gaps in their training?  What gaps have you noticed?

What is the neglected curriculum in so many churches?  What are the gaps?  What is the neglected curriculum in either the formal teaching/preaching or in the life and experience of the church?  I would enjoy hearing what you have noticed.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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22 thoughts on “The Neglected Curriculum

  1. I think one area neglected in both our homes and our churches is financial stewardship.  We need to teach our kids how to be good stewards and we need to address it in church for us as adults.  The current financial crisis might be the impetus we need to prioritise this. Another area is contentment – what comprises happiness, joy, contentment and how to go about achieving them. It’s easier to fill kids lives with extra curricular stuff than teach them to be still and church lives with programs than allow space for fellowshipping and being together.  We hyper parent and hyper program

  2. I’d say a gap in the home is love. I know that sounds strange, but too many parents confuse love with two things: 1) providing everything their children want; and 2) never letting their children fail at anything. I think we are to provide everything our children need, and we are to raise them to rise to the various challenges life throws at us. It’s interesting that while Wendy does not mention either of these specifically, I think my comment is completely in line with her thoughts.One gap in the church is a lack of charity. A recent (Rochester NY) newspaper article was highlighting two local "megachurches." (I quote these because they are not more than 10% the size of Saddleback or Willow Creek, but locally they are big.) These churches both discussed their outreach programs, each averaging about $10,000 per week toward missions and outreach. $500K per year sounds great, but that barely 20% of the budget. My church gives closer to 5%, which is probably much closer to the average across the nation, especially for traditional establishment organizations.

  3. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven. – I recently heard this defined as Discipleship 101.  Our theology – taught and lived out as the church and in the home – must include suffering and God’s goodness, wisdom and complete control in the midst of it all.  The definition we use for the abundant life must also work for my friend living in a war zone and receiving death threats from three different religious groups because she loves Jesus.

  4. I would agree with Dave on the idea of Love – teaching kids what would love do, what would Love look like in different situations. Also I’d add discernment, teaching kids how to transfer basic principles and concepts over to their lives as they become adults. This goes well beyond a rules-based curriculum (and is something churches need to teach as well). This embraces an idea of allowing people/children to fail, I think, (again, agreeing with Dave) and being there to offer grace. 

  5. Wendy-Very good.   Financial stewardship (on many fronts) is a huge gap.  I think this can be seen both in our sense of entitlement, our view of giving, our consumerism, etc.  You make a great point that I have not thought about.  This financial mess that we are in could be an impetus for change.I also appreciate what you said regarding contentment.

  6. Dave,A great comment.  In particular I appreciate your words regarding love and the confusion many parents have with this.  Good observation.

  7. Alice,What you said is important—the need to learn about God’s control in the context of facing tribulations, trials, suffering, etc.

  8. One area that I think needs to be understood by children, parents, and churches is the idea that as a child grows up, the earthly parents must step back and the child should learn to live with God as their Father.  It is important that "Father" is not just a term that we use, but a relationship that we build.

  9. That would be referred to as "null curriculum" in educational circles. How about the 1000 pound gorilla in the room – sex? The world sure has a lot to say about it to teach our kids but many parents don’t have a clue how to approach this with their kids. This is a much needed area for some Christian literature to be written addressing how to effectively communicate a healthy and biblical attitude about sex and sexuality to our kids.

  10. Neglected in the church?  Learning about worship; not talking about five "acts", etc. I’m talking about honest to God awareness, recognition, adoration and praise of God at all times.

  11. I believe one of the most neglected areas of a child’s developmental training is social awareness, developing the ability to understand the effects of our actions and words upon other people . We need to teach our children how to be sensitive to the feelings, beliefs, and opinions of others and to view life not only from our own perspective but also from the persepective of those around us. Children need to see considerate behavior on a consistent basis, mirrored in the lives of their parents– the way they drive, the way they listen while others talk, the way they conduct themselves in the grocery store, etc., giving deference to others in lieu of the pervasive mentality of "It’s all about me."

  12. Jim, I appreciate the questions you raise and the responses. I agree with them all, which is to say, I believe much is neglected, and I’m as guilty as anyone.  It’s too much of a generalization, but I think we (parents) struggle to invite and make aware the presence of Jesus in our homes. We can fall into the trap of leaving him at the church house, creating a split between the real world and the world of make-believe. Over the last few years we’ve been deeply encouraged just to have one of our boys pull out the guitar as we sing praise as a family. And lately, we’ve been placing bread and wine at the center of our table about once a week, reflecting on Jesus and His presence and eventual coming, as part of our "common meal." I just want my family to constantly keep in mind that He’s real and with us and wants to enjoy our company even when we eat fried chicken. Another thing I make a conscious effort to do is after I’m through reading scripture in the morning, I’ll leave the Bible out on the bar where I read, open and as silent example. I never ask my teenage boys to read scripture (19 and 16), but you’ll catch them every morning or late at night, soaking up a word from God. I know  that’s not curriculum, and it’s more about doing than verbal teaching, but for what it’s worth God seems to be giving us grace in these little  practices.
    Ben Overby

  13. All the comments here have been bang on and I’m sure that there must be more curriculum that’s missing. It’s hard to generalize, because some churches and homes get some things right, and others get other things right.  No one church or home gets it all right. Sometimes I think that we are multi-tasking, meaning that we dabble a little in everything, but cannot focus on one thing and do that with excellence. Many young parents are still in the learning mode even as they start teaching their young. Unfortunately, in my own lifetime, I have lately seen some churches and homes discredit what they had been diligently taught by their elders and decide that their own way is better.  What their forefathers, parents, elders, knew was vital curriculum has now been set aside in favor of more fun, frivolous and fluffy courses. There are no mandated common textbook, syllabus, extra-curricular events, etc.. Each church and home decides what they want to teach and hope they get it right. I don’t have all the answers – just observations. The only Scripture that keeps prodding me right now is – "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Trained children become trained parents who can effectively train the next generation and so on and so on.  I don’t know if any of this made sense, lol.

  14. Freeinchrist, Yes–and what a better environment to teach this important reality than in the home where children can know that even when they fail the Father, they are sitll loved and cherished.

  15. Hi Matt,Very good.   I can certainly see how sex may be neglected on a number of fronts in both family and church.  These conversations are needed throughout our childrens lives while they are in our homes.    

  16. Eddy,Very good.  It may be one thing to understand some examples of how early believers expressed their devotion to God.  It may be quite another issue to actually have a heart that treasures God so that unbrideled worship is released.

  17. Vicki,I like this.  You are so right, our sense of "self-importance" just permeates the water we drink.  How important for us to be called to living for others as well as understanding that our actions really do impact other people.

  18. Ben–I have missed your writing!  Very good.  I like what you say regarding your family, your example and your attempt to communicate to your children that Christ is real.  You are right, far too often we leave Jesus at church, in Bible class, etc. but then have a disconnect as we think about him present in the middle of our lives.

  19. Karin,Your voice is needed and appreciated.  Thanks for joining.  Far too often, both in churches and in rearing our children, we dabble in this and that instead of really focusing on what is most important. While all of us were reared by imperfect humans and were a part of imperfect churches, it is important, in my opinion, that we appreciate and affirm what our parents/former church leaders did that was good and right.  We have learned and yet we continue learning.