The Curriculum Department is a means through which the First Presidency and the Twelve help Church members worldwide incorporate the gospel into their lives.
This, in essence, was what Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy said is the purpose of the department. Members, who have the desire and faith, can learn to apply gospel truths by studying the materials it provides, he explained.Most of the printed and audio-visual materials of the Church are provided through the Curriculum Department, with the cooperation of the priesthood and auxiliary organizations of the Church. These materials include manuals for Sunday School, Primary, Relief Society, Young Women, and Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood; Church publications; and many audio-visual productions.
"We don't feel that the gospel is complete until it has become a part of the daily life of the individual or the family," continued Elder Pinegar, who is executive director of the Curriculum Department. "Because of that, the curriculum is presented according to the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ as defined by the First Presidency and the Twelve."
Up until 1973, each department of the Church had its own curriculum writers and planned and produced its own materials with no central correlation, said Ronald L. Knighton, managing director of the Curriculum Department.
Brother Knighton said that the instructional development section of the Internal Communications Department became responsible for the planning and development of curriculum material in 1973. Then in 1978, the Church organized the Curriculum Department.
This department consists of six divisions: planning and development, scriptures coordination, Church magazines, audio-visual planning and development, publication coordination, and administrative services.
The core of the department is the planning and development division, explained Brother Knighton. He said this division "is responsible for planning a correlated curriculum for all age groups within the Church."
To accomplish that, the Curriculum Department, using the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets, has developed planning charts that present the concepts of the gospel and the age groups of Church members, he explained.
"We identify the principles, doctrines, ordinances and covenants of the gospel that should be taught to each of these age groups in order to maintain a balanced curriculum throughout the life-time of each member," he reported.
"The staff is very aware of the need for the inspiration of the Lord in preparing the curriculum of the Church," Brother Knighton continued. "Much prayer and fasting goes into the process of writing lessons and producing manuals and audio-visual material.
"The Curriculum Department is very conscious of the counsel given by President Ezra Taft Benson to spend time daily reading in the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures," he continued. "Basing the curriculum upon the scriptures gives it a timeless element."
Elder Pinegar added, "The curriculum is organized so that the person will have repeated opportunities to renew his or her association with the covenants and ordinances of the gospel."
This focus on a balanced curriculum is the reason, "It is very important that teachers teach the concepts outlined in the approved curriculum of the Church rather than bringing other materials into the class which take the students away from the scriptures and elements identified in the approved curriculum materials," Brother Knighton admonished.
Elder Pinegar added, "Don't use extraneous sources when teaching courses in the Church. When you do, you have just said, `I'm thankful for what the Lord's given me but it's not good enough. I have a better idea."
Brother Knighton explained that the planning and development division is also responsible to produce materials for the home, meetinghouse libraries, for the disabled (See Church News, Sept. 22, 1990), teacher development, and other Church departments.
The publications coordination division is responsible to coordinate the Curriculum Department's production of printed and audio-visual materials, said Brother Knighton. This division directs the development processes for these materials that go to members worldwide in about 160 languages.
The audio-visual planning and development division is responsible for producing videos, filmstrips and audio-recordings for auxiliaries and departments of the Church. Church photography, satellite broadcasts and the broadcast and video distribution of general conference are also directed by this division, explained Brother Knighton.
The scriptures coordination division, under the direction of Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy, was created to direct the translation of the scriptures into other languages. Brother Knighton reported that this section of the Curriculum Department also protects the integrity of the doctrines of the scriptures as they are translated and ensures the safety of the master copy of each translation. He added the division is also responsible for the scripture aids, such as the footnotes, maps, the Bible dictionary and the topical guide.
Responsibility for the editorial content of the magazines of the Church and the circulation of Church publications belongs to the Church magazines division.
Elder Pinegar reported that during the development of any material for any organization of the Church, the Correlation Department, which correlates the administrative and instructional functions of the Church, is also consulted to ensure the accuracy of doctrinal content.
Elder Pinegar noted, "The whole effort is to make a curriculum that can be used anywhere in the world, under any cultural or political circumstance, so that the only culture we're bound by is the culture of the gospel."
Use approved curriculum
"Don't use extraneous sources when teaching courses in the Church. When you do, you have just said, `I'm thankful for what the Lord's given me but it's not good enough. I have a better idea.' " - Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Curriculum Department.
"It is very important that teachers teach the concepts outlined in the approved curriculum of the Church rather than bringing other materials into the class that take the students away from the scriptures and elements identified in the approved curriculum materials." - Ronald L. Knighton, managing director of the Curriculum Department.