by Dr. Milton Uecker
3. Does the content to be covered in this lesson contain enduring ideas from this discipline? If so, what is the idea?
This week we examine the integration of a discipline’s content. This approach is based upon the writing of Dr. Ron Chadwick in his book, Christian School Curriculum: An Integrated Approach ( BMH Books, Winona Lake, Indiana). This book, written in 1990 and no longer in print, challenges teachers to understand the structure of a given discipline.
The concept of the structure of the discipline is concerned with the basic truth that is necessary in order to give meaning to the particular discipline… If it is true that half of what students are being taught today will be obsolete in ten years and half of what they need to know in ten years has not yet been discovered, then there must be a better means of organizing the curriculum and the specifics that are being taught. Because specific facts become obsolete so rapidly, they are not significant in and of themselves. Their chief function is to explain, illustrate, or develop the main ideas or concepts… Thus even though new facts may come to light and some of the facts may even change, the basic concepts or structures of the particular discipline remain the same. (Chapter 7, page 69)
A teacher must ask, “What ideas hold the study of my discipline together? What key concepts are developed in this unit or chapter? What are the essential understandings or enduring ideas (the language of Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in their Understanding by Design, published ASCD, 1998) that must be grasped and retained by the student? These ideas (examples provided at the end of this blog) are often presented within the teacher’s guide or highlighted at the beginning of a chapter as advanced organizers for the student. Chadwick emphasizes that the supporting facts and ideas of a structural principle are in and of themselves facts but the concepts are where the worldview of the authors or thinkers within a discipline are evidenced. When these “big ideas” or foundational concepts are integrated, the discipline itself becomes integrated. Without this understanding, attention is sometimes focused on the trivial, the integration becomes forced, and the content takes on biblical “sugar coating.”
Once the key concepts within a lesson are identified the teacher is ready to ask:
Consider these concepts from within elementary social studies. Evaluate them from the perspective of a biblical worldview. How would you integrate them? Remember that if they are true and complete they need not be changed or integrated.
Next week’s discussion will address these “enduring ideas” by providing some suggested biblical ideas and the resulting integrated concepts.