2 Cardinal Rules for Curriculum Evaluation | UMC YoungPeople
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March 2024

2 Cardinal Rules for Curriculum Evaluation

By Tori Mick

Curriculum development can be a challenging task when considering the various factors involved, such as searching for, writing, and modifying it. Many educators have provided their insights on how to approach curriculum writing and evaluation, focusing on aspects such as goals, methods, materials, and assessment. Different perspectives may also emphasize content engagement and design inclusivity. You can find plenty on the internet about this topic. I have two important principles that guide my evaluation process.

Rule 1: How the material treats other religious people

First and foremost, I must ensure that the curriculum I use does not denigrate any religious group. In a context that embraces a plurality of beliefs, it is essential to acknowledge and respect the diversity of perspectives around us. I have yet to find a place in scripture that explicitly condemns practices like praying on a rug, using beads, or substituting wine for grape juice.

Often, our preconceived notions and biases lead us to focus on differences, influencing how we approach faith traditions. The need to understand and build relationships between faith traditions and religions becomes even more important, given the increasing diversity of beliefs in the communities where we lead ministry. Even within Protestantism, variations can be celebrated rather than used as a divisive factor. By upholding the rule about denigration, I have rejected numerous adult Protestant curricula that denigrate other Christian traditions. A curriculum that invites thoughtful questions and relationship-building will always beat a curriculum that dismisses or denigrates other religious belief systems, practices, or people.

Rule 2: Minimum modification

When evaluating curriculum, I also prioritize my own time and well-being. If a curriculum requires more than twenty percent modification to its written material, it is impractical to invest additional effort in adapting it. This guideline is in place to maintain my peace of mind and ensure that I can allocate time to other important tasks.

I once assessed a curriculum intended for teenagers that focused on foundational faith elements. Although the curriculum had its merits, I had students with varying levels of familiarity with Jesus in my group. To meet their distinct needs, the required modifications exceeded the twenty percent threshold, and I ultimately opted for a different curriculum that required less extensive adaptation. The curriculum would have served many groups well. At the time, it simply didn't fit the context of my students and the goals we were trying to achieve that semester.

Regardless of the specific evaluation criteria, I encourage you to consistently assess your curriculum. I recently conducted an evaluation for a women's Bible study, which proposed using a TV show as a basis for discussion questions. However, upon watching the show, I discovered that it addressed intense and potentially traumatic topics. Considering the well-being of the participants, we decided to discard that particular curriculum and explore alternative options.

In the field of youth ministry, there are often instances where time constraints or the assessment of curriculum becomes an additional task on our agenda. It is our duty not only to guide teenagers but also to ensure that the curriculum we provide to other adults adheres to the standards that we have set. Failure to do so could create room for potential complications.

This curricula evaluation checklist by Scott Hughes can come in handy when figuring out whether or not to use a curriculum in your Methodist context.

Happy evaluating!