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Bible/Theology Curriculum

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What do you consider to be the most important Bible/Theology Curriculum during the Rhetoric stage? Is it Apologetics? Is it knowledge of the various Church traditions/denominations? Is it systematic and biblical theology? Is it historical theology and the development of doctrine? Is it church history and exposition of the major councils? Is it a combination of these or something else entirely?

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Conceptually, Apologetics fits very nicely into the Rhetoric stage paradigm, especially when it is taught as training for productive dialogue about theological questions, not simply a procession of arguments for Christianity to commit to memory.

My preference would be to primarily locate historical questions in History courses; at the same time, touching on a bit of historical background from time to time in a Systematic or Biblical Theology class would provide helpful overlap/reinforcement.

As a side note, one of my biggest concerns at the Rhetoric stage is that we need to confirm that students have mastered and retained basic knowledge about the Bible. Assuming we are teaching them all the Grammar-stage facts about the basic Biblical narrative in the years leading up to the Rhetoric stage (and remembering that they may or may not be getting these at home or at church), we can't take for granted that they will remember these particularly well once they get to high school. At the Rhetoric stage we should definitely focus on thinking through and articulating higher-level concepts, not Grammar-stage material. However, a 12th grader who can wax eloquent about Calvin's theology but can never quite remember the basic chronology of events in the Old Testament (and I suspect there's quite a few of them in classical schools) is missing a fundamental part of his or her education, and I worry that our paradigm of the Trivium may lead us to overlook how common this problem may be because we don't want to "waste" time going back over the more simple things students should have already learned. (Does anyone else see this as an issue, or is it just me?)

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28 minutes ago, Patrick said:

Conceptually, Apologetics fits very nicely into the Rhetoric stage paradigm, especially when it is taught as training for productive dialogue about theological questions, not simply a procession of arguments for Christianity to commit to memory.

My preference would be to primarily locate historical questions in History courses; at the same time, touching on a bit of historical background from time to time in a Systematic or Biblical Theology class would provide helpful overlap/reinforcement.

As a side note, one of my biggest concerns at the Rhetoric stage is that we need to confirm that students have mastered and retained basic knowledge about the Bible. Assuming we are teaching them all the Grammar-stage facts about the basic Biblical narrative in the years leading up to the Rhetoric stage (and remembering that they may or may not be getting these at home or at church), we can't take for granted that they will remember these particularly well once they get to high school. At the Rhetoric stage we should definitely focus on thinking through and articulating higher-level concepts, not Grammar-stage material. However, a 12th grader who can wax eloquent about Calvin's theology but can never quite remember the basic chronology of events in the Old Testament (and I suspect there's quite a few of them in classical schools) is missing a fundamental part of his or her education, and I worry that our paradigm of the Trivium may lead us to overlook how common this problem may be because we don't want to "waste" time going back over the more simple things students should have already learned. (Does anyone else see this as an issue, or is it just me?)

Regarding your concern in the last paragraph, the short answer is yes, I've seen the same trend in inferior biblical knowledge. We've made some changes (and will be continuing to make more) to ameliorate the problem, but I do suspect the best classical educators can do is stall the retreat--the bulk of the burden falls upon churches and families to be reading and teaching the Bible in their own spheres.

One of the things we've done is to treat 7th and 8th grade years as logic-level reviews of their grammar curriculum -- Biblical and Church history. There is so little time in grammar school spent on these things in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn't make sense to expect a 10th grader to remember the details of the Great Schism if the only time they have learned about it was during two to five days of instruction in a 4th grade classroom. I'm not sure how to gain greater and more varied exposure over the course of the entire curriculum that reaches saturation level, especially if the home and church aren't building on, supporting, or otherwise making use of what is happening in the classroom.

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