How should teachers of a Bible elective be selected and what preparation will they require?

Friday, December 13, 2002

Teaching about the Bible, either in literature and history courses or in Bible electives, requires considerable preparation. School districts and universities should offer in-service workshops and summer institutes for teachers who are teaching about the Bible in literature and history courses.

When selecting teachers to teach Bible electives, school districts should look for teachers who have some background in the academic study of religion. Unless they have already received academic preparation, teachers selected to teach a course about the Bible should receive substantive in-service training from qualified scholars before being permitted to teach such courses. Electives in biblical studies should only be offered if there are teachers academically competent to teach them.

For the future, we recommend changes in teacher education to help ensure that study about religion, including the Bible, is done well in public schools. Literature and history teachers should be encouraged, as part of their certification, to take at least one course in religious studies that prepares them to teach about religions in their subject. Teachers who wish to teach a Bible elective should have taken college-level courses in biblical studies. Eventually, religious studies should become a certifiable field, requiring at least an undergraduate minor. State departments of education will need to set certification requirements, review curricula, and adopt appropriate academic standards for electives in religious studies.