On February 12–14, CSI was honored to host distinguished professors from Covenant College, Reformed Theological Seminary, National Paideia Center, and Calvin Theological Seminary and to guide thirty participants through structured tracks that took a deep dive into different methods of how to get students actively engaging with Scripture.
Each year of the CSI Bible Instruction Symposium has built off the great feedback and investment of the participants and speakers from the years before. This year was no exception. The 2020 Symposium was full of many great highlights, including the two keynote presentations given by Heidi Dean, CSI Bible specialist, and Rebecca McLaughlin, author of Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion. Heidi opened the Symposium by challenging the teachers to think about literary tools teachers can use to increase student engagement in the Bible classroom. Rebecca motivated everyone with her powerful talk on the unique opportunities we have as Christian educators to reclaim diversity for Christ, reclaim the university for Christ, reclaim morality for Christ, and reclaim sexuality for Christ.
Bible teachers at CSI member schools were incredibly thankful for this unique professional development experience. Many expressed their gratitude to the donors and supporters that made it possible for them to attend. The opportunity to be in Washington, DC and have wonderful accommodations and high-quality training with access to the Museum of the Bible was not taken for granted. The teachers dug into the content and had many great takeaways and things to reflect on when examining their own teaching practices. Participants in the Elementary Track shared how they were encouraged to move out of the way and let students take ownership of storytelling, letting the words of Scripture guide their learning. The Theological Track’s participants reflected on how important it is for the students to carefully read the text for meaning, genre, and repetition, soaking in the structure and beauty of the words for a more well-rounded breadth of study. The Pedagogical Track’s participants had some similar reflections as the Theological Track, but one thing that stood out for this group was the skill of active listening. Taking the time to teach the skill of listening, to slow down and hear what we are saying to one another about the text and what the text is saying to us is a skill that can often be a lost art in our noisy, busy world.
Heidi Dean, concluded the Symposium by stating, “It doesn’t matter how good the content is that we are sharing if the students are not actively learning.” This statement gives a great overview to the primary objective for the 2020 Symposium. Wherever we find ourselves in the support of Christian education, our shared deep hope is that students will take the seeds that are planted by our faithful Christian educators and use these skills to create lifelong patterns that make their faith a vibrant journey to share the Gospel message.
Bible educators had the opportunity to visit the Museum of the Bible and see rare artifacts spanning 3,500 years of history, giving them an enriching and immersive experience with the Bible.
CSI Bible Specialist Heidi Dean opened the general session with an overview of applying literacy tools to the study of Scripture to increase student engagement.