Cover photo from CBD, ChristianBook.com
A Review of Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful
By Abram Kielsmeier-Jones
"[Elliot] Eisner [in The Educational Imagination] contends that what a teaching institution does 'not teach may be as important as what they do teach. Ignorance is not simply a neutral void; it has important effects on the kinds of options one is able to consider, the alternatives that one can examine, and the perspectives from which one can view a situation or problems. The absence of a set of considerations or perspectives or the inability to use certain processes for appraising a context biases the evidence one is able to take into account….'" (quoted in Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church, p. 128).
Churches and ministries and schools all ought to give constant attention to what they teach. Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang refer to the "explicit" curriculum--the content of teaching that teachers mean to teach. There is also "implicit" curriculum--the milieu in which teachers teach, and even the things they communicate to students while they teach. (Implicit curriculum can be deliberate or not!)
Then there is "null curriculum"--that which teachers do not teach. Parrett and Kang say that this is no less important than explicit and implicit curricula. They say, "[If a] course--set, we are supposing, in a North American context--never deals with issues like racism or poverty or warfare, then students are learning, by what is not taught (the null curriculum), that such issues must not be of vital concern for Christian ethics" (p. 129).
Few enough churches, ministries, and schools take the time to deliberately mark out their explicit curriculum. Even fewer think about implicit curriculum. What about null curriculum? What are we not teaching our students, and what impact is that having?