Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
 

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Cherishing God's Creation

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   5-session video series A five-session curriculum for helping children and youth “to learn to protect and care for nature and their environment, to feel empowered to be part of the ‘crew’ on our spaceship Earth.”
Reviewed by:   Marcia Cox, a United Church of Christ pastor from Connecticut

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Tirell. H. Kimball Green Timber Publications
Publisher:   Presbyterian Church (USA)
Publication date:   1990 (revisions 2002) Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Presbyterian Distribution Service
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon St.
Louisville, KY   40202-1396  
Phone 800-524-2612   Fax  
Website www.pcusa.org/marketplace/index.jsp E-mail    
Price $39.95  Order # 041075 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool     Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
The reviewer specifies:   age 5 -14, suited for mixed ages, plans for different ages
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size none mentioned. She does suggest that each session begin with a large "gathering circle", followed by "activities to be done in small groups, by age or classes." She then suggests that "each group should have one or two leaders, depending upon total number of participants." 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 5 class sessions each lasting about approx. 1 hour
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? Leader could focus on just one specific area in one session. Session 4 suggests a number of activities suitable for older groups, would could extend the curriculum a week. These activities include making posters on the issues covered in previous sessions, letter writing opportunities, and mathematical calculations (e.g. how much garbage do we throw away?)  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 using these materials, or even just one session from them, a reasonable, coherent and self-contained class can be offered in a single session of about an hour.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? Learners occasionally encouraged to bring objects (e.g. cardboard box) to various sessions.  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content
Note: The reviewer says that this curriculum is especially appropriate for members of the denomination or agency that developed it (Unitarian Universalist). For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement. The reviewer also believes that it is possible for groups outside that tradition to make good use these materials.

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Video
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
 

Other supportive materials provided: quotes, readings, worship service bulliten, songs, bibliographies, and lists of statistics and tips.
Other materials required:a slide show and projector, a “stuffed ‘hug-a-planet’ ball,” a bulletin board, chalice or candle, tape player with specific music, garbage, glue gun, plywood, magazines, other various arts & crafts materials, and various books.
Description of the Leader's Guide:After a helpful “using the program” introduction, each session includes: “Concepts” to be covered in that session, “Plan Ahead” guidelines, a list of “Materials” needed in each session, steps for facilitating a “Gathering Circle” (time for reflection, meditation, song, discussion, and information), “Group Activities” (often both a discussion time and a hands-on activity time) and “Planning for next week.”
Description of the Student's Book:This resource seems designed primarily for leaders.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
medium to heavy – as many of the required materials are not provided, leaders may spend quite a bit of time gathering them. For example, it seems that the slide show could take quite a bit of time to create. Other preparation includes sending letters and postcards to parents and participants and doing a bit of research (e.g., locating “recycling centers in your area.” 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? Garbage and recycling/reusing as a way for children and youth to enter into Earth care.  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? No  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
No  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? NoThe reviewer did not answer this question  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings
The reviewer did not answer the question.  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
I am not inclined to recommend it to most congregations with which we work because it is not rooted in the Christian tradition (I might recommend it to a Unitarian, Unity, or Quaker congregation – but I think that better resources exist for these groups as well – e.g. Loving Our Neighbor, The Earth by Christie L. Jenkins). I might recommend this to a congregation that specifically asked for a children/youth curriculum focusing on garbage and recycling/reusing.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
What I liked: The creative, fun-sounding activities. The balance between action and reflection. An attempt to balance helping to foster awareness/awe in children/youth with alerting them to environmental concerns. Different activities for younger and older children. The flexibility (time, session length, etc.) of the curriculum. What I did not like: The use of the term “resources” for describing other members of creation. Many of the “Startling Statistics” will be well beyond the grasp of younger children. Also, they may be a little too startling for those who are able to understand them – might discourage “wonderment” of natural world. Leaders will need to have good arts & crafts-savvy and plenty of time for preparation. Fairly light theologically.
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
I’d be curious to know why the author decided to use garbage and recycling/reusing as an entrée to Earth care, and whether or not she considered others.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
The information is not always age-appropriate. The use of the term “resources” for describing other members of creation. Many of the “Startling Statistics” will be well beyond the grasp of younger children. Also, they may be a little too startling for those who are able to understand them – might discourage “wonderment” of natural world. Leaders will need to have good arts & crafts-savvy and plenty of time for preparation. Fairly light theologically.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
It’s important for children and youth to have direct contact with the natural world – she does not emphasize this. Some mention of the connection between social and ecological justice, in a manner that children could understand (e.g., reading a story about a child whose home sits near a landfill).
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
No


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page: www.eco-justice.org
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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