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Opelika-Auburn News
Bible course well received at area high school

By: Donathan Prater
Date: August 19, 2008

Students at Smiths Station have a course option this semester in The Bible as Literature course. And it’s an option the course instructor says has been well-received.

Scotty Z. Brooks, a 10th- and 11th-grade English instructor at SSHS is teaching the two-section course offered now and next semester. Brooks said the response from students has been “100 percent positive.”

The course, which was first offered last spring as an elective at the school, examines the Bible from both a literary as well as a historical perspective and is the first of its kind to be taught in the Lee County School System.

“We actually have more students enrolled in the class than we can admit,” said Brooks.

In addition to the Bible as a supplemental text, students enrolled in the course use a text titled “The Bible and its Influence,” a publication currently being used by 220 schools in 39 states across the country.

The Lee County Board of Education approved use of the text at it’s Aug. 12 regular meeting.

In addition to reading assignments from the text, student taking the course will present what they’ve learned in a series of PowerPoint discussions before fellow classmates.

While some might think a course like this is merely a thinly-veiled attempt to inject religion in the classroom, Brooks said, the course couldn’t be farther from that.

“What you have to keep in mind is that this is not a Christian elective and it’s not a course taught from a Christian perspective,” said Brooks. “This is a course to get kids to have an understanding of one of the best-selling books in the history of the world.”

That understanding is one that Brooks said can be applied in a number of other areas.

“For example, to understand Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, you’d need to have a more in-depth knowledge of the gospel of Mark because the story alludes to it many times,” said Brooks. “The greater one understands the Bible, the more one can understand the founding of our country, the laws of our country and other literature during the time period in which it was written.”

The Bible as Literature course is available to any school in the state through the ACCESS Distance Learning (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide), an education initiative through the Alabama Department of Education, according to SSHS principal Dr. Jason L. Yohn.

“There’s a fine line with a course like this and we’re aware not to cross it, but here at Smiths Station High School we want to be able to offer our kids a variety of courses that not only teach them about writing, math and science, but also how to think critically and objectively,” said Yohn.


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