I have served as the Director of Lifespan Faith Development at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Blacksburg, VA. since 2010. As a long-time Unitarian Universalist, and a parent, I recognized a need for curriculum that teaches UU principles, values and sources, but does so in a fun and engaging way.
A conversation with a college student at the General Assembly in Louisville became the catalyst for Imagine-RE. He observed to me that pop culture references could be very helpful when discussing difficult topics, particularly when speaking to someone who holds a differing opinion. He used the Macklemore & Lewis song "Same Love" as an example of a launching pad into a discussion on marriage equality. I had used this same technique myself and came away inspired to write my first middle school curriculum, "D'Oh, God!". That curriculum shattered my paradigms!
As a new DlFD, I held an opinion, based on prior experience, that middle school is the time you are likely to lose youth. "D'Oh, God!" convinced me that curriculum choice matters greatly. If you have a curriculum that kids find fun, they will come!
Imagine-RE's curriculum uses popular television shows, books, games, and music to capture a child's/youth's attention and to keep their interest. By maintaining interest, we can create a learning opportunity that allows youth to explore social action, examine ethical and theological issues, understand the seven UU principles, and integrate world religion learnings - all while having fun!
In addition, as my college friend pointed out, pop culture can help youth to discuss important social issues with peers. Talking about social issues with peers can be daunting, particularly if a youth knows that his/her viewpoint is not necessarily shared by the majority of his/her peers. Referencing a television show, movie, song or website can help youth express their opinions to others.
I hope that you will explore this website and consider how Imagine-RE can help your religious education program - whether it's discussing religion or social justice with The Simpsons, encouraging tweens in social action with Harry Potter, or using Minecraft to process youth visits to other worship homes.
Sunday school in a whole new way! Imagine the possibilities!
~ Karen Hager, author
Credentialed Religious Educator
The original middle school curriculum using The Simpsons as the basis for discussion of religious topics > more
NEW! Unleash the creativity of Minecraft to bring more fun to your world religions classes. > more
NEW! A full RE year of great Middle School Youth Group meeting ideas. > more
Popular music from the 1960s to the present is perfectly in tune with discussions on social justice. > more
Popular storybooks are used as the basis for this first introduction to the 7 UU Principles for preschoolers. > more
The television series The Twilight Zone has timeless stories, perfect for discussions of ethics, values and social justice. > more
The second curriculum to use the animated series The Simpsons, this time for social justice discussions. > more
The magical power of Harry Potter is channeled into the fight against 7 real-world horcruxes in this social action curriculum. > more