To say "it's never too late to teach kids about worldview" is a pretty serious understatement—children need to be trained to think clearly and Christianly from their earliest years. The world is proactive about seducing people, especially young people, into lives of consumerism, selfishness and godless secularism, and Christian parents have a responsibility to teach their kids how to maintain their faith while identifying and defending against worldly philosophies. Lightbearers is designed to help do just that, giving your middle schoolers the tools needed to put the puzzle of competing worldviews together and view the whole, rather than just the individual pieces.
How Does This Work?
The curriculum (which works best in a group setting) can be completed in one or two semesters using the teacher manual, student workbook, teaching DVDs, and online videos, with Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig as the primary text. Each daily lesson in the 10-unit course is clearly plotted in the teacher manual, with reading and viewing assignments, lecture material, and plenty of questions and thoughts for guiding group discussions.
Dialogue is the core of Lightbearers, with readings supporting rather than leading the program. Students are taught from the beginning to see how culture influences every aspect of their internal and external lives, and why it is important to not blindly or thoughtlessly consumemovies, music, books, ideas, etc. The bulk of the coursework focuses on strategies for accomplishing this, as kids examine pop culture artifacts, identify the idea being presented, and counter with sound logic and biblical reasoning.
Each unit includes textbook reading, video viewing, writing assignments, presentation assignments, and discussion questions, all centered around the unit's theme. Themes range from the nature of truth and reality, to the basis of law and the purpose of government, to the meaning of history. Students are introduced to important philosophical movements, which are always thoroughly contrasted with the biblical worldview. DVD documentaries explore themes of absolute truth, popular media, creation vs. evolution, and the veracity of the Gospels.
Another DVD includes clips from famous movies like The Truman Show and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with discussion questions in the teacher manual to guide analysis. A series of seven re: View videos from Cedarville University include creative short films along with director's commentary and supplemental lectures by Dr. Bill Brown of Cedarville. There is also a DVD-ROM with PDF files of tests and quizzes not included in the student or teacher books. Some videos are only available to watch online at www.summit.org; specific addresses are included in the teacher manual.
The student workbook is just black and white text, as is the teacher manual (though the teacher book is equipped with helpful unit tabs!). How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig is an entertaining but very informative introduction to humanist thought, illustrated throughout with ridiculous black and white cartoon illustrations of the 1970s variety. Each DVD presentation is stylish but doesn't rely on entertainment value—there's plenty of content for students to digest. Teachers are encouraged to view about 15 minutes of each DVD before showing it to kids to get a feel for it prior to leading discussions.
Though the publishers state this is for one or two semesters, one semester doesn't seem like enough time to adequately cover all the material. Units generally include 15 daily assignments, and if your kids are doing anything besides worldview study they'll be pretty pressed for time, especially if you have them doing the presentation assignments. Lightbearers is also best suited to a group situation, and would make an excellent option for Sunday school or a co-op, even if there were only two or three families involved.
Our Honest Opinion:
There isn't a lot of worldview curriculum available for middle school students, so LIghtbearers is among the best in virtue of being one of the few. But it stands on its own merits, presenting young adolescents with excellent offensive and defensive weapons for fighting the good fight. Understanding the Times, also from Summit Ministries, is a worldview course for high school and would make an excellent follow-up to Lightbearers. Whereas Lightbearers provides a general introduction to the concept of worldview, Understanding the Times investigates specific philosophies and world religions in-depth.
A lot of programs err either on the side of too much entertainment or not enough. Lightbearers strikes the perfect middle ground, with videos that appeal to a young (though not unintelligent) audience with text and assignments that will make them think deeply. This is a thoroughly biblical program, and while there isn't a clear denominational line, the essentials of historic Christianity as expressed in the major creeds are shown to be the only viable standard of orthodoxy. Great for 8th graders, Lightbearers could be used just as effectively for 7th-9th grade students.
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