Friday, April 8, 2011

Memorizing Scripture

First off, let me say I am a big fan of Christian schools. Are they perfect? No, there is always room for improvement, but they are tons better than a public school, and I am sorry my homeschooling friends - better than homeschooling. That said, on to my topic at hand, or as some as my friends call it, my "rant."

Our church has a great school that my nieces attend. They love it, we love it. But one issue we pretty much all have is with memorizing Scripture. We think the kids have to memorize too much. It is required, and is part of their grade. Too much of their grade.

Some kids are great with memorizing. Others are not. One of my nieces is not. It really annoys me and ticks me off that she gets lower grades because she can't memorize the required amount of Scripture. So here are some things I'd like to ask:

1) Should a kid - or anyone - be forced to memorize Scripture?

2) Should a school grade be affected by memorizing Scripture?

3) Is God really pleased by anyone memorizing His Word that only do it because they are being forced to?

4) And on the heels of that, is He pleased that they do it to get a grade in school?

5) And can it affect a child negatively to be forced to memorize Scripture?

I had to do it in school. In fact, sometimes we had to do it in front of the class, which I have so many wonderful memories of. Not. One memorable memorizing occasion was John 3: 1-36. Want to guess how much of that I remember? Verse 16. Ok, maybe 3 or 4 total out of that, but I can't quote that. I couldn't have quoted all of that a week later, so why force me to?

I am going to answer my own questions:

1) I don't think anyone should be forced to memorize Scripture. Sorry, but that is a big "NO"

2) No one should get a lower grade because they didn't meet the memorizing quota. It is totally unfair for kids who have problems memorizing, and I am sorry - is inconsiderate of any teacher who does so.

A possible alternative - extra credit for memorizing.

3) I think God is pleased when we want to memorize His Word, but no, I doubt He gets excited when anyone does it because they have to. Would you get excited if people were forced to read or memorize something you wrote?

4) I definitely don't believe God would be pleased that a kid could get a lower grade because of not memorizing His Word

5) Yes, yes, and yes. Every kid? No, but some kids are going to resent being forced to memorize Scripture. Resent getting a lower grade because they couldn't memorize the vast amount of verses being asked for.

We have great teachers, but some of them - maybe all - require too much at one time. Why 16 or 20 verses at one time? Why not 3 or 4? The 3 or 4 are more apt to stick than the 16 or 20. I think it is inarguable that what is memorized in smaller amounts will stick with us far better than large amounts. Disagree? Have someone write down a list of say 25 items. Try memorizing that. Two weeks from now, write down how many you remember. Now try it with 3 or 4. If I were a betting man, the results for the 25 are gonna stink - same with memorizing Scripture.

Shortly after my parents became Christians, they gave us kids verses to memorize. In small increments. They had some kind of reward system, we were not forced. And yes, a reward system might not be ideal either, but why not incentive instead of forced, while talking about why it is good to memorize?

And teachers...... instead of docking kids' grades for not memorizing your vast amount of required verses, why not give some extra credit or some other incentive for doing so. Be fair to we among you who cannot memorize well.

In closing, lest I be crucified, I do think memorizing Scripture is a great idea. The day may come when our Bibles are taken away. I just don't think anyone should be forced to memorize, or be asked to memorize more than they are able to at one time.


Melinda said...

Forcing memorization isn't good, IMO.

As a teacher (not currently teaching), I agree that not all students are good at memorizing and for it to be part of their grade, much less a major part, isn't going to do anything but make some resentful.

If you want them to memorize, make it fun! Incorporate movement and song, and even taste, touch and smell where you can. This helps those that aren't good at rote memorization, makes it more enjoyable, and is more likely to be remembered later on.

I can still sing some Christmas songs and the birthday song in French - 20 years after graduation.

Unknown said...

I went to a Christian school from beginning to end, and went to one particular school from 3rd grade all the way to graduation. We had to memorize scripture every week. K through 1st grade's verses were very short, simple, and easy. But the rest of the school had to memorize the same set of verses each week, and it was never more than 3 or 4 verses (maybe 5 if they were really short).

Personally, I never thought any of the teachers at my school "forced" anyone to memorize the scripture. The method in which we learned it was very simple--chapel service every morning. We read the same passage 3 times, and on Mondays, focused on the assigned verses to memorize that week. By the time we read that same passage every single morning for 3 and 4 weeks, the verses were a no-brainer to memorize by the end of the 3rd or 4th week. No one was penalized if they didn't recite them to a teacher, but the ones of us that did by the end of each week got a little extra break time that Friday.

All that said, I am so thankful for that experience. My Sunday school classes in church didn't focus on it enough when I was growing up, and instead, was more about crafts and keeping us occupied.

If there are incentives in place for memorizing scripture, I say bring it on. To this day, I still remember passages that we worked on in school, and what was just words to me at the time has become a source of strength through tough times.

Oh, two cents.

Christa said...

I think memorizing helps exercise our brain just like physical exercise does to the human body. I am one of those homeschooling mothers you like to bash, but I personally don't think I keep on my kids enough about their Scripture memorization. Forcing...when I was in school, it was just extra privileges if it wasn't memorized. I don't remember anyone ever getting a lower grade for it. I disagree with that.
My kids have been doing good on their CAT tests at the end of the year, and they get along with kids great. Dont think homeschooling has hurt them. Just couldnt resist mentioning that!! lol