The Living Curriculum Education Philosophy
Myrtle Fillmore believed our mission was not to "entertain the children, but instead, to draw them out." The Living Curriculum is an approach or philosopy, which affirms that the curriculum - that which is to be learners or known - already lives within the adult, child or teen, themselves. It moves us past the belief that teachers have all the answers and need to impart them to the students. Instead, there is a realization that all of us are uniquely unfolding on our spiritual pathe, having access to the Spirit within.
The Living Curriculum is a process of spiritual support used to assist children, teens, families, and the church community in co-creating successful living. It honors the inherent wholeness and wisdom within each one of us, and utilizes storytelling and experiential creative expression to “draw out” the Truth we already know. The process helps us to explore spiritual principles and to become aware of how the principles operate in our lives.
A Living Curriculum
- Lives in the question
- Uses the vehicle of story and/or experience
- Is issue based
- Is engaging
- Is an adventure
- Elicits creativity
- Involves everyone
- Always has debriefing
"Living Curriculum is issue-centered. Life is all about issues that we are trying to make sense of. By focusing on issues in our lives through the common experience of sharing a story, we become engaged and involved as we examine these issues. This approach leads to exploring spiritual principles and truths and to an awareness of how they are operating in our lives." ~Youth & Family Ministry Guide
The Living Curriculum six-point checklist.
1. The Issue: Identify which issue, theme, or need is currently active in your group's lives.
2. The Intention: Write a brief intention, keeping it open-ended to allow for the outcome to be different for each individual. Start with words like: to explore, discover, understand, experience, examine, feel or share. All parts of the lesson reflect and reinforce the issue and intention to be explored.
3. The Story: Choose a story, movie passage, song, Bible story, or experiential activity that will introduce the issue/theme and help the participants connect to it. Find a method to explore the issue/theme in order to make it relevant, for example: wonder questions, role-playing, puppets, visualization, meditation, etc. The purpose is to move into the heart space rather than analyzing. Any lessons connects better when the participants can have a common experience or see themselves in the story. Then, the discussion is more apt to stay focused on what they have shared together.
- Our lessons are based on issues because real life has issues
- We use stories that help our children and teens figues out how to make their way in life, move into life with grounding principles are their foundation. This gives them insight into how to step into life in a more powerful way.
- The stories help us find common ground for our issues.
- The tension in the story is about real life.
- We use the Bible to illustrate modern issues from our daily lives.
- The stories are our mythology and contain universal wisdom.
- You are every character in the story.
4. The Questioning Strategy: Use open-ended questions, worded to avoid yes/no answers, to progress from safe "out there" answers to more internal "in here" answers. There are five types of questions to use:
- What is happening in the story? (Stay with the facts and save interpretation for later.)
- How are the characters feeling about what they are experiencing?
- How do you see this experience in the world? (Ask a bridging question that looks at how it is showing up in school, community, or the world.)
- How do you see this experience in your daily life? How do you see yourself in this character? (Share personal stories both factually and from the heart, deepening community.)
- How are you going to use this experience in your life? (Putting principle into practice?)
- How would you like it to be? (Seeing with the eyes of Christ, making different choices.)
5. Creative Experiences: Choose an open-ended activity to awaken the story within, for example: art activities, music, movement, games, journaling, etc. Expressing spirituality is a multi-sensory experience.
6. Sharing: Allow time for participants to share, if they choose, what the experience awakened in them. Encourage action related to the story. Also encourage them to continue exploring the issue or theme on their own by asking them to take a particular action that is related to the story. Help them to make the lesson relevant to their lives.
Questions to consider during lesson planning:
- Which Unity principle does the theme or issue relate to?
- What will I use for an opening prayer?
- What question might help to transition into the remainder of the lesson?
- What is an appropriate affirmation?
- What song/s might fit will with this lesson?
- What will be the order of the lesson?
- How will I close the experience? Affirmation? Prayer?
- Actively involve all the children. Good lessons include children's participation in many ways. Also, children can be given responsibility for their ministry by having rotating jobs to do. Help the children learn the tasks and then have them teach others. They are empowered in leadership, responsibility, and feeling good about serving others.
- Responsibility cards have the title of a job and a picture (for the non-reader). As they enter, children pick a card and prepare for the task.
- For teens, rather than using cards, paint different roles on stones and invite them to select a stone as they arrive. Roles can include prayer leader, meditation, lesson presenter, question leader, etc.
- Sacred Circles, for Preschool, Elementary, and Teens, are an important part of the Sunday morning experience. The circles provides a transition from the opening activities and is an opportunity for the children and teens to get to know one another, build community and develop leadership skills. Using the Responsibility Cards, during the circle time, encourages the children and teens to actively lead portions of the circle and creates a sense of family.
- Multiple Intelligence refers to the variety of ways that people take in and process information. Having an understanding of each of these intelligences helps us to not only prepare classroom experiences that fully engage our students, but also helps us to discover the intelligences that we feel most comfortable with and therefore use most in our classrooms. Learning opportunities for the adult leaders can be found in becoming more familar with those intelligences in which we do not excel.
Utilizing the Living Curriculum empowers each individual and assists them in more fully expressing the Christ within. For more information on curriculum based on this philosophy, visit www.UnityWorldwideMinistries.org/curriculum.