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Last month I introduced a new set of student outcomes to aim for with our students in my post, Proposing a “Flourishing Index”. I suggested that flourishing, not merely meeting minimum standards, should be our goal in Christian education. What are the qualities or key components of a Christian education that have the best possibility of helping students to flourish?
- Connection – Our first need as human beings is to belong. Our identity comes from the fact that we are God’s children and heirs of the kingdom. Our kids need to understand this from the time they enter our doors. Helping all kids to feel like they belong is fundamental. Kids need to be taught to see all others in the world as image-bearers of God, created in his image (Galatians 4:6-8).
- Competency – When we can do something well, our confidence increases. We know in our hearts whether any praise is deserved. Our students need to master the basics to feel confident so that they can take on new and larger challenges.
- Coherence – When we understand how things fit together, we develop a schema or framework that helps us to understand present situations and be confident in new situations. Whenever possible we should be working toward demonstrating coherence and connection in Christian schools if we desire to image Christ, in whom all things cohere (Colossians 1:16, 17).
- Contribution – Who are you as a person? As a learner? As a producer? How have you been wired and what is your unique contribution? Why were you born in this time and place and how might God advance his kingdom through you and the gifts and talents he has given you?
- Community – One of the first things we learn in kindergarten is that community is important. Students learn that each individual has a contribution to offer to the larger community.
- Creativity – from my April 23, 2011 post: “Creativity is today considered to be the highest level of thinking, as evidenced by the fact that it is now placed at the top of Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking. As Christians we understand that we are made in the image of God. Likewise our own creativity is a reflection, in a small way, of the Creator of All.”
- Christlikeness – this is our ultimate goal for our students. To be like him – “in whom are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”- Colossians 2:2b. To be like him – “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7.
I believe these seven aspects are critical for an education that equips students to be both faithful presence (being Christ) to others and (living Christ) as transformational impacters of culture.
I would like to share two resources that merit attention and may be helpful in nurturing faith with students.
The story of Corrie Ten Boom is one that some of us may be familiar with – a Christian woman in the Netherlands who hid Jews from persecution during the Holocaust. I learned about a resource related to this story from former Rehoboth Executive Director, Ron Polinder, who happened to sit down on a flight next to Susan Sandager, an actor who presents a one-woman dramatization called Time with Corrie. The informational brochure and contact information can be found here: Corrie Ten Boom -SandagerBrochure-7 copy. I believe with Ron that “Corrie’s story is one that we and our children and grandchildren and students should never forget–it is an important message . . .” There is much that our students can gain from the stories of heroes of faith such as Corrie that is instructive and inspirational for their own lives. The sharing of narratives and faith stories is one of the best ways that we can encourage faith in our students.
Kiva is a way to help connect people through lending to reduce poverty in the world. Individuals or organizations can lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. The Kiva website indicates that there has been about $300 million dollars lent by 739,477 lenders since 2005 and that the repayment rate has been 98.94%! This seems amazing! Kiva does this work through 147 field partners and 450 volunteers in 61 countries around the world.
What is compelling to me about Kiva is that it is giving a hand up, as opposed to a hand out. If a class or classroom were to collect money, select a project, and connect with an individual, not only that individual could be helped, but the money could be reused next year with another class. Or ideally, if each class were to raise funds, there could be additional people helped each year due to the repaid money and the new funds. There are currently over 1,070 school teams lending money. The leading team is a school from Honolulu that has lent over $118,650! They have made it part of their senior capstone project. I’d love to see one of our Christian schools at the top of the leader board – what a great way to engage our kids globally!
I really enjoyed reading John Suk’s book: Not Sure: A Pastor’s Journey from Faith to Doubt. Maybe it is because we are similar ages, but I felt like I could really relate to his description of growing up in the culture of the same denomination. He takes us through the past and present of Christian belief by looking at history and reflecting on his own personal faith development. It is a painfully honest, yet hopeful book about a faith journey that a faith that lives and deals with doubt, a faith that receives grace as a little child.
A friend, who heard that I would be speaking in Hungary and Romania, suggested that I check out the site Live Mocha to learn some phrases. What a great tool – it says the word, shows a picture, and takes you through self-paced lessons – for free!
Another friend mentioned that he was in a study group on the book, Wasting Minds: Why Our Education System is Failing and What We Can Do About It by Ronald Wolk. I am about 2/3rds of the way through the book and appreciate the fact that the author (former editor of Education Week for 20+ years) is speaking boldly about problems and solutions. My favorite quote so far: “We will make real progress only when we realize our problem in education is not mainly one of performance but one of design. It is the obsolete and flawed design of the conventional public school that accounts for the poor performance of a great many students.” (p.25)
Infographics have grown in popularity – they are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. The graphic on the left comes from Daily Infographic and another leading site is visual.ly. The big news is that you can now create your own infographics – here are the details and you can also visit visual.ly. What a cool way to present information!
Did you know that the Blue Man Group is starting a school? What are the implications of this school that encourages better learning through fun?
The idea of digital learning badges is gaining traction and should give colleges and universities some pause. What are the implications for hgher education if I can learn anything from anyone at anytime and get a badge/certification of my competency? Would an electronic portfolio through a site like Mahara be more descriptive of my skills, abilities, and passions? Mozilla, the open source organization behind the Firefox browser has been a key leader in the Open Badges movement. Here is a great aggregation of information on badges and here are some examples of how this is working in real life.
Perhaps by now you have heard of TED Talks – short, stimulating lectures of less than 20 minutes or less – if not, Google it or go to YouTube for videos or ITunes for podcasts. The exciting news of this past week is that TED has now launched TED-Ed – a new educational channel on YouTube. They hope to add free video lessons to help educators supplement their curriculum.
The latest Pew Foundation report on teens, smartphones, and texting can be read here.
If you have IPads at your disposal, or just have one of your own, here are “40 Most Awesome Science Apps” that really do look very cool!
For my Canadian friends, a research based answer to the question: “Do Dual Credit Programs Help Students Succeed?”
Nice 5 minute movie on Project Based Learning and Student Engagement in Dawson Creek, BC – note the reference to dual enrollment.
Here’s what it can look like when schools move toward making 21st Century education happen.