August 1, 2012
Online Journal - DO WE TEACH “METHODS CLASSES” or “A LIVED CURRICULUM”?
June Fiorito, Chair School of Education, Canadian University College, Lacombe, AB

Methods classes at Canadian University College deal with the “how to” of teaching. In these classes, we focus on the “how” more than the “what” of course content because students are expected to get the “what” from the specializations and minors they take concurrently in their Bachelor of Education degree.

In all teacher training institutions, methods courses are used to instill in students the need to be current, interesting, involving, and innovative in approaches to teaching. The content forms the “core” of each course taught. By the time students are ready for their practicum experiences, they are expected to be ready to teach students in face-to-face, real-life experiences, practised in monitored, safe, classroom environments.

Recently, a colleague shared that at the University of Alberta all methods courses are referred to as “Lived Curriculum” and the faculty and students use this terminology in their daily communication with each other when they refer to this category of courses. These courses are designed so that students will be so well acquainted with the details that they make it a part of their professional lives both at the university and beyond.

A “Lived Curriculum” is not just a label put on a course but a description of how students are to see, experience, and approach teaching in a real-world situation. A lived curriculum should reflect what is not only subscribed to but also accepted as a personal, living, connection to content or expertise. If a student lives the curriculum, then that student must display characteristics of what that “lived” life entails. We cannot say that we believe in and use a “lived curriculum” and then turn around and do something that is contrary to what the curriculum methodology expects of us. We must practise what we preach!

For a Christian, the word “lived” should be part and parcel of who we are and what we espouse to be our religion, or outlook in life. The majority of adherents to other religions, be it Buddhism, Muslim, or Hinduism, “live” their religion. By this I mean that for them, religion and life are one. They believe, do, follow, and practice their religion in their everyday lives. They dress, eat, and live in a certain way so that they are living witnesses of their faith.

Life and faith go hand-in-hand; you cannot differentiate between them in people of faith. They call on God’s name (whichever god they worship) and give praise, or attribute a tragedy, to their god. They call it “God’s will”, or say that their god wanted it to happen the way it did, or their god saved them from calamity in the nick of time. Their lives are wrapped around with their religion, and they cannot separate one from the other.

How about us Christians? Seventh-day Adventist Christians? Do our lives and practices reflect a “lived” experience that demonstrates our innermost beliefs or is it a “method” of living separate from the “lived” life? As teachers, “Can the world see Jesus in you” through the “lived” curriculum you teach in your classrooms?

How should we live and teach in North America, in Canada, where a majority of the population claim to be Christian, to showcase our “lived” practices? Do we teach what we believe and what is part of us because we know it to be true? Do we use methodologies that leave no doubt in the minds of our students that we do indeed believe in the content and methodology that we use? The “taught curriculum” and the “lived curriculum” must reflect each other. Then, and only then, can we truly reflect our faith in a living Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher!