May 15, 2012

TOS Review: Judah Bible Curriculum

In our homeschool, Bible is our most important subject. We read aloud from the Bible every morning. We memorize verses. We have Bible lessons from curriculum. We discuss our reading and memorizing and lessons. We apply the reading, the memorizing, the lessons and the discussing as we face various situations throughout the day. We take seriously the command given to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 

So I was very interested when asked to review the Judah Bible Curriculum. I had never heard of this curriculum before. Nor had I heard of the Principle Approach on which this curriculum is based. But I was interested...

First, I feel I should mention that we received this download in the very middle of moving. In fact, I downloaded it at McDonalds because we were Internet-less and living out of boxes at home. This could very well be the reason that I felt overwhelmed, confused, and disoriented as I attempted to sort through the website and the download. The download included the Manual and Notebook Ideas, both of which were PDFs, and eight lectures which were audio files and turned out to be the explanation for how and why this curriculum worked.
 Each lecture is at least an hour long and seem to be more about the WHY of the method than the HOW of the method. (I will freely admit that I gave up about half-way through) The lectures seemed to be recorded from seminars and were hard to follow for several reasons. One, they didn't seem to be in any sort of order. I couldn't find a clear beginning, middle, and ending. I am a linear thinker, so this bothered me. Two, the speaker kept referring to visuals that I "think" might have been in the manual but I didn't figure that out until about half way through the second hour and I am still pretty sure they didn't exactly match up to what he was talking about. Three, people in the background kept asking and answering questions, but they were not miked and their words were not repeated so the result was disjointed and discordant. In other words, I felt as though I were missing something. Four, the lectures seemed to repeat each other a lot and I since I was waiting and wondering about the HOW I quickly became irritated with the over-reiterated WHY. Now, don't get me wrong, WHY is good. WHY is necessary. But WHY only needs to be told to me once and then I really truly need to get to the HOW.
The manual was 100 pages long and where I really got most of my concept of the curriculum. It contained the Content, Methods and Implementation of the curriculum. The Notebooking Ideas was just that... copies of notebooking pages that various kids had done just to show you what it looked like.

Ok. So. The point of this curriculum is to use the Bible as a textbook to teach Biblical principles, develop a knowledge of the Bible, study the hand of God in the lives of individuals and in nations, apply God's word in every area of our lives, and build strong, Godly character in our kids. The premise is that living by Godly principles because we love God makes us internally governed, productive, able to reason, confident and living in peace and freedom. And conversely, living without Biblical principles leaves us open to anarchy or tyranny, lacking in self control, easily manipulated and living in chaos.
The more I listened to the man talk, and the more I read the manual, the more I realized that this philosophy was basically how I what I had been taught my whole life. So needless to say, I agreed and accepted this premise quite readily. So I liked the concept of this curriculum. I really did like it a lot.

The method of the Judah Bible Curriculum is that there are five main themes in the Bible. These themes are broken down into four quarters and further divided into weekly themes. The idea is to read a section of Scripture each week, discuss it and notebook about it. Also, if desired, a Scripture verse is given for memorization. These themes, verses, and the whole "scope and sequence" can be found in the Manual. The five themes are then retaught with a slightly different focus the next year and so on for a six year cycle. Then, the seventh year, you start on year one again and repeat.
Have I lost you yet? :) I know this is a difficult review to read but I am trying to give you a good idea of what this curriculum entails and it entails A LOT. The website can be confusing and without purchase a lot of it is not viewable, but here you can find the themes laid out by year, quarter and week. This page, along with what they call "Key Sheets" which are printable from the Manual is the basis of the curriculum.
Now, the thing about this is that it is incredibly teacher intensive. They say that the teacher must first learn the information and then teach it, and they are not kidding. I feel that I have a "leg up" so to speak because of my background and I quickly got where they were coming from. I also feel that we have already been implementing a lot of this philosophy in our home already. Because really, this isn't so much a curriculum as it is a method of learning. 
I don't want you to think that this is a negative review. I liked this curriculum method very much and will be implementing it in our school lives and am happy to have the scope and sequence, memory verses and the Key sheets at my disposal. I do wish, however, that it was easier to figure out. I would love to have had linear teacher manuals and audios to explain concisely what I needed to know to grasp and implement these concepts. Also, links and/or suggestions on how to find notebooking sheets, (if not notebooking sheets themselves) would be awesome additions to the Notebooking ideas. You are supposed to produce a notebook page every week (more as you and the kids adjust to the curriculum) color sheets, prompts, timelines, etc. but none are provided. I knew of some sources from my days in Children's Ministry and more were shared among Crew Members, but the average purchaser would be basically on their own at the mercy of Google. 
One "pro" of this that I do not want to forget to mention is that even though it is laid out by grades, it is totally possible to use this as a group for more than one kid, no matter what ages you have. You would just read the passage to everyone, discuss as a group, then have everyone do a notebook page to their own ability. 
For other Crew Member's thoughts and experiences for the Judah Bible Curriculum click here.

DISCLAIMER: I was given a free download of this product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

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