This summer, Vacation Bible School instructors at Midwest Church of Christ took a somewhat different tactic in teaching about Noah's Ark and the Gospel: They aligned their lessons to Common Core standards.
It's a move seen increasingly at Vacation Bible School and Bible study classes in Louisville and surrounding areas.
"We're still using Bible stories but we're asking questions that are tied to Common Core," said Olivia Hanley, who helps develop the curriculum for Vacation Bible School at Midwest Church of Christ. "What we're trying to do is ask questions in a different way, a way that's aligned ... to the critical thinking and other questions in Common Core."
Common Core and Bible stories - love it!
I see the possibilities already.
How about some Common Core-aligned Bible math:
Jesus had five loaves of bread, two fish and a crowd of thousands to feed.
Using cubes, explain how Jesus fed the crowd with peanut butter and jelly.
Or how about a close reading of the rigorous Book of Revelations along with some text-based questions getting at exactly what the author meant.
For centuries, humans have struggled to read and comprehend religious texts, but those struggles will fall to a David Coleman-approved close reading strategy.
And hey, why miss out on any opportunity for college- and career-readiness.
Even the baby Jesus understands that there can be no time lost to getting the kiddies college- and career-ready, so everything - including religious studies - should be Common Core-aligned.
Alas, not everyone is with the program:
The Archdiocese of Louisville reviewed the Common Core standards for its schools, finding that some of what its schools were doing in English and math were already in line with the standards. But it said it also noticed some areas it thought were deficient or missing in the new standards and decided to maintain what it had in those areas.
Yet the idea of using these standards in Bible studies or Vacation Bible School has not been as widely discussed.
Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said that Vacation Bible Schools — which are run by church parishes and not the schools — "have a faith-based content and approach. Therefore, I do not believe the (Common Core standards) would be applicable."
Others also seem flummoxed by the idea of aligning Vacation Bible School with Common Core.
"The focus of Vacation Bible School is to fulfill hearts, for young people and young children to know the Lord in a deeper way," said Denise Donohue, deputy director of the K-12 education program at the Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative advocacy group for greater orthodoxy in Catholic schools.
She asked why math and English language arts standards focused on college and career readiness would have any place in Vacation Bible School.
What's next after Common Core-aligned religion?
How about Common Core-aligned family therapy?
Common Core-aligned Twelve Step Groups?
Gee, we've got so much work to do to get the world more "rigorous" and "standards-based."
God help us - this is what a crumbling empire looks like at the end.