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How a Faith-Based Reading Curriculum Nurtures Relationships

December 9, 2019

By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from the writing team of Pathways 2.0

Remember the traditional “three Rs” of academics? Although they are crucial for student success, we all know that there’s so much more to a good education than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Another “r” word to add to the mix? Relationships. Education is a system of relationships in which students learn to interact and connect with their peers, teachers, and community. One way educators may choose to incorporate the teaching of relationships is through a faith-based curriculum, such as Pathways 2.0.

Students of faith-based curricula are inspired to see themselves as part of a greater relationship with their peers, their community, and their world. According to Bette Bosma and Kathryn Blok, retired professors of education, a faith-based reading approach can “creat[e] an awareness of how reading and reading materials can be used to strengthen personal worship, help us live in social relationships as God would have us, and assist us in doing the world’s work as God would have us.” Here are three relationships that are strengthened through faith-based reading curricula.

Relationship with God

Faith-based reading curricula can, of course, be based around religious texts. For example, the Pathways 2.0 Grade 8 Social Issues unit uses the Gospel of Luke as its Anchor Text, giving students an in-depth chance to explore their relationship with God and His word in a literary and personal sense. However, a text doesn’t need to have religious themes to be used in a faith-based lesson—the teacher can draw connections to faith-based issues in nonreligious texts, whether through the main character’s decision-making, integrity, or personal relationships. This kind of faith-based reading can, in fact, be even more fruitful for students’ personal relationship with God, as they are led to see God in other aspects of their lives and witness His works in areas that are not explicitly religious. Through a faith-based reading curriculum, all texts can be connected to a common faith, and students expand their love of reading and their love of God.

Relationship with others

Through Anchor Texts and paired texts with themes such as Heroes, Social Issues, and Walking with God, the Pathways 2.0 program introduces students to role-model characters who exhibit strong moral values and positive relationships in action. Students can discuss these characters and stories, connecting the actions and decisions of the characters not only to their own lives but to the Bible as well. Through reading about others who have struggled and succeeded in knowing God’s will and fulfilling His plan, students learn the importance of kindness and compassion in their relationships with their peers and friends. The texts they read tell stories of cooperation rather than competition and demonstrate the importance of productive communication. Because faith-based reading curricula such as Pathways 2.0 focus on texts that depict positive role models and characters of high religious and moral standards, students understand how to develop healthy relationships with others and live their faith in their friendships.

Relationship with the world

A faith-based reading curriculum encourages a global worldview by promoting messages of tolerance and inclusivity toward all people of all nationalities and walks of life. Through Pathways 2.0 themes such as Social Issues and My World, students celebrate not only the differences among cultures but also the many similarities of the people who make up God's family. Anchor Texts tackle diverse and important social and global topics, such as poverty and racism, leading students to understand global issues through a religious lens. A faith-based reading curriculum allows for moral and ethical discussions regarding these issues and gives students an accurate picture of their place in the world.

In the end, the overall benefit for students of all ages is that faith-based reading strengthens their literacy skills while also deepening their understanding of the world from a faith-based perspective that promotes positive values. Faith-based reading demonstrates the potential “real-life” applications of academic knowledge in terms of student relationships, and this encourages student engagement with the text and curriculum.

How will you educate your students about relationships and moral values?