This school year the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) has begun rolling out an all-new Bible curriculum for secondary students. It replaces the Crossroad textbooks that have been used since 1997.
The Encounter program was developed by Adventist educators in Australia and New Zealand and is being adapted for North American schools—a process that will take several years. Ninth graders are using Encounter this year; grades 10-12 will follow, one each year, over the next three years. The elementary curriculum will also launch within two to three years.
The Encounter curriculum uses the Bible as its textbook and aims to transform students into growing, active disciples of Christ. Students learn about a full range of Bible teachings and Adventist fundamental beliefs (as outlined in the NAD Bible standards), from Creation to the Gospels to Revelation, using creative, interactive methods. There’s a strong emphasis throughout on applying the content to their lives and witnessing to others.
“It is quite a paradigm shift for some teachers,” said Nina Atcheson, associate director for secondary curriculum development at the NAD. “Teachers must give of themselves and be open and honest about their own spiritual life as they lead their students to Christ.” For instance, in one segment teachers share their personal testimony, and in another they show students how they use their own Bible for personal study.
Exploring the Encounter Curriculum
To give church members a deeper understanding of what Adventist students are learning in their Bible classes, The Compass Magazine is publishing a series of articles about the Encounter curriculum. We plan to publish additional articles in a few months, after the first school year of this program is complete.
- Adventist Bible Curriculum Transforms Students – Nina Atcheson describes how the Encounter curriculum works and the learning framework that undergirds it.
- A Teacher’s Perspective on the Encounter Curriculum – Naomi Rempel, a teacher in British Columbia, shares how Encounter has turned her most skeptical students into fans of Bible class.
- A Mind-Expanding Education – The goal of making religious education truly life-changing, as laid out by Ellen White, inspired the curriculum’s developers. In this excerpt from Christ’s Object Lessons, White outlines the centrality of the Bible in education and the importance of the teacher’s own experience with God.
For a detailed overview of the Encounter curriculum, visit http://adventisteducation.org/encounter/.
[Photo: A graphic from the teacher’s guide for a grade 9 Encounter unit about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Used by permission of NAD Education Department.]