I love teaching languages. And I love seeing students get excited about learning a language. Over the years, I have found that people learn in two main ways: the “building blocks method” and the “immersion method.” One of my goals in the classroom is to provide building blocks, such as verb conjugation, vocabulary, and sentence structure, so that students can start understanding and building their own sentences. But after a few months, I transition to speaking only in French so that they are immersed as much as possible in the language. The students begin to “pick up” vocabulary that was never on their vocab list, or they use sentences that they didn’t intentionally construct first by themselves. While some people prefer one learning method over the other, I have found that students who learn building blocks and are also exposed to immersion seem to make the most progress.
This both/and process reminds me of our approach as teachers to biblical integration. One of the benefits of Curriculum Trak is that it allows teachers to thoughtfully construct building blocks—intentional lessons that help students evaluate knowledge through a biblical worldview. The curriculum map can save these ideas for modification and enhancement for the next year, or give good ideas to new teachers beginning to teach the course. Not every lesson will connect directly to the Bible, but as we teach the truth of our subject areas, we encourage our students in their love for Truth, and ultimately, in their love for our Creator and Savior who is Truth.
But our careful planning and intentional building isn’t everything. Many biblical truths and worldview opportunities also spring up unexpectedly during a lesson. It may be a question from a student, or a perfect setting to point out a biblical truth that can be seen in the middle of a discussion. These more frequent and less formal opportunities help students see the relevancy of biblical truth in their everyday lives and learning. Are we ready to seize on these unexpected opportunities’? Is our understanding of God’s Word so much a part of how we think and what we say, that we are able to apply and share it at unexpected moments?
These moments may not be recorded in our curriculum, but we should plan for them as well. How can this happen? When a student asks a tough question while interpreting a poem, or makes a remark about something in history or science class, do we have the inner resources to respond? One of the best ways to prepare for these moments is by immersion: immersing ourselves in God’s Word, so that it is transforming our own hearts, even as we search for ways for it to transform our students.
What are we allowing to permeate our hearts and minds all day? Are we immersed in God’s Word? Do we know it so well that it can’t help spilling out in insight, wisdom, and truth? We can’t expect to have quality biblical integration if we aren’t immersed in it ourselves. Is it an integrated part of our own lives?
Yes, disciplining ourselves to spend time each day reading the Bible can become an empty ritual. But it also can be a time of delight, learning, and growth. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, as we pray: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18, ESV).
How can school leaders encourage this? Many schools schedule weekly devotions, or organize spiritual retreats for the staff, taking the time to dive into God’s Word more deeply. Another way we have encouraged “immersion” is through a read-through-the-Bible plan (M’Cheyne’s calendar is an excellent one, but there are many other good ones). Staff members who wished to would meet before school on a weekly basis to share what they learned from their daily readings. This has enhanced my own reading, as I think about what I am learning, questions I still have, or truths that touch my heart and that I want to discuss with the group.
As teachers, regular immersion in God’s Word helps us to share truth that we may not have specifically planned for, or to answer a question with wisdom for which we had not prepared. “Building blocks” are great tools and can lead to some well-designed and thought-out biblical integration. But let us not forget the importance and the power of immersing ourselves in God’s Word as we seek to then meaningfully pour into our students’ lives.