Updated: May 25
Bible Quest has fantastic tools for teaching younger students in the grammar phase, but the program is also very effective for middle and even high school students. The classical model is appropriate for anyone of any age: we all learn from memorizing knowledge, connecting that knowledge together for understanding, and then applying what we know, preferably under the guidance of a mentor!
However, it is my experience that some of the earliest tools in the process don't resonate with all middle and high school students as directly presented. For instance, many of the songs in Bible Quest could come across as juvenile to older students. This doesn't mean that they wouldn't be effective tools for learning at any age, but some modification may be necessary to help self-conscious students stay motivated to learn.
The curriculum book that comes with any Bible Quest kit includes four pages of effective and varied methods for memorization starting on page 114, but I've put together a list here of a few modifications that would work especially well for middle and high school students. (You may want to check out our free samples at biblequestclassical.com/request-a-sample while you look this list over for context. Use the first page of each week's lesson for the following suggestions.)
1. For the WHO section, I don't recommend any modifications per se, but I have found some additional success in church-group classes where some students have very little Biblical background by distributing cards to students. Each card includes the individual facts listed in the WHO section. We go over the facts and discuss the meaning of each as a class. The fact that the student is still holding the card when we move on to further discussion is helpful in these ways:
the card content gives them something to bring to the discussion since they'll likely look at their card from time to time without attracting attention.
The card can serve as an unobtrusive reminder of the content for the student.
The card can give a student that knows very little something that they can answer when I ask for review of the fact. I am often intentional about asking them to remind the rest of the group what is on their card when appropriate in the discussion.
2. For the WHAT section, singing Bible Quest songs as a class may not fly with some students. In such cases, I would make the following suggestions:
Use alternate music, likely accompanied by the guitar and possibly even composed by the students themselves (in a class context, they could share it with the class).
Have the students use alternate memorization tools from the Bible Quest curriculum book to memorize the verse such as hand motions or "cloze" exercises.
Have the students help teach younger kids the verse songs, thereby altering the context. If students take a "teaching" role for younger students, they are often willing to do more "juvenile" sorts of activities because, well, "it's for the kids." :) Check out this blog post for more on engaging older students when younger students are also present.
3. For the WHEN section, consider these options:
Have your students memorize the actual historical statement that Bible Quest gives for each week's lesson content in addition to any timeline exercises. This WHEN statement is often more technical and thus "mature."
Encourage students to draw out a timeline of Biblical history each week. The timeline would become more and more complex each time, but there is great strength in written repetition. If time is at a premium, simply allow them to continue to add to a single timeline that they are producing. BONUS: If they discover something else that they'd like to add from their own Bible study, have them add that to the timeline as well!
4. The geography of the WHERE section provides an opportunity for exciting modification:
Have students draw their own maps of the geography each week, but ask them to include all of the locations on their map that they've learned so far. There would be some times that it would make good sense to allow them to "start over" with a new map, like when moving from the Antediluvian* World to the Post-Flood one, or moving from Old Testament to New Testament. The maps that students draw could be either completely "fresh" each time (meaning that the draw everything on a clean sheet of paper each week) or they could be allowed to add to a general map each week. In any case, it is no shame to trace map lines, especially for beginning students.
* BONUS: Here's a fun, obscure vocabulary word - the Pre-Flood world is referred to as antediluvian as in "Noah built the ark in the Antediluvian Era."
Thankfully, the Empower and Expedition Phases can be used with no modification - your middle and high school students will find them challenging and valuable. For instance, the Deeper Questions in Bible Quest's Expedition Phase are designed to get students thinking at a deeper level about the week's content and to spur further Biblical conversation and are already written at a high level. Many of the Deeper Questions are designed to lead students to excellent thinking about the week's content, but parents or mentors have the privilege to help guide the student to the right conclusion.
Bible Quest is appropriate for any age, but is most effective when used from the ground up. That is, if children memorize the foundational knowledge with those resources, hone their knowledge in the discussion activities and exercises when they are preteens, and engage in rhetoric-level Expeditions when they are teenagers, they've had the chance to build a foundation and walls to the "building" of their Biblical view before they begin to use it for greater wisdom and service to the Kingdom.
There's one more issue to consider. Older students (or even adults!) could certainly use Bible Quest as presented, including all the memorization tools, dialectic activities, and rhetoric-level Expeditions. In some cases, it might be helpful to add Bible Quest methods to the learning that students already have. If students already have a foundation of memorized Biblical repertoire, for example, I might suggest simply using the memorization materials for reference and review while using the Empower and Expedition Phase materials in Bible Quest to increase your students' understanding and help them pursue Biblical wisdom. For help on using Bible Quest in special contexts or even build your own program, check out this article on the general strategy of Bible Quest: https://www.biblequestclassical.com/post/the-real-solution-for-discipleship