Curriculum is an important part of the educational process. There are various approaches to the curriculum development in different countries and educational establishments. A generally accepted opinion is that the curriculum should be “neutral” in terms of religion, gender and culture.
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However, in his book, Steppingstones to Curriculum: A Biblical Path, Harro Van Brummelen debates the possibility of a neutral curriculum and offers Christianity oriented curriculum in public and Christian schools (Van Brummelen, 2002). Neutral curriculum is one of the most debatable questions in the modern system of education.
Moreover, many scientists assume that modern curriculum should have a religious framework that will allow educating broad-minded people that will serve a society. In this work, we are going to discuss the concept “neutral curriculum” and analyze the relevance of the biblical-based education in elementary and secondary schools, as well as legal implications of such curriculum.
It goes without saying that curriculum should be aimed at educating young people that would be able to face the demands of the modern life and will be able to realize themselves in different fields. Neutral curriculum is the curriculum that presupposes developing specific skills, abilities and knowledge concerning certain disciplines.
It should be neutral in terms of gender and religion, especially, in public schools because children who attend them belong to different nations and confess different religions.
However, analyzing different sources, we can esteem that modern curriculum is oriented primarily on developing skills, specific knowledge and techniques without concerning about aesthetical and cultural development of a personality. Thus, we can see that neutral curriculum is not perfect and should be modified.
The Biblical based curriculum can help with solving this problem. According to Van Brummelen’s ideas, teachers should apply a Christian approach to education in order to encourage their students to be more responsible to society. Whatever the discipline a teacher teaches, it should presuppose the developing of the Biblical norms.
Christian based curriculum should abide Christian ethics that is based on Ten Commandments. This fact raises the question of legal implications that every educational establishment should follow. As we know, the Ten Commandments coincide, in some way, with criminal law.
Consequently, such curriculum is aimed at educating law-abiding citizens. It is a great benefit of Biblically based curriculum. However, can it be applicable to public school curriculum?
On the one hand, it certainly can, as it coincides with the one of the purposes of education. On the other hand, other religions have different “commandments” that can contradict the Christian ethics.
The representatives of different cultures and religions attend public schools. Consequently, Christian teachers at public schools cannot apply these principles directly, as they will contradict the legal implications of the public school, the principle of tolerance, in particular.
So, the Christian education is not the best approach to the curriculum. Of course, some principles as interconnection of disciplines and developing of cultural norms of communication should be present. However, not all of the principles of Christian education can be applied in public schools.
Thus, we can say that Biblically based curriculum influences the structure of disciplines and can improve modern “neutral curriculum”. The principles of such curriculum elevate a cultural and educational level of students.
However, we can assume that not all of those principles can come along with the curriculum in public schools if take into consideration that young people of different religions and from different cultures attend them. Thus, the Christian approach to the curriculum should be analyzed properly by teachers who are to apply it in their educational establishments.
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Van Brummelen, H. (2002). Steppingstones to curriculum: a biblical path (second edition). Colorado: Colorado Springs.