Monthly Archives: September 2010

Connecting and celebrating in community

In the last week of July, the Christian Schools International leadership convention was held at Trinity Christian College in Chicago, IL. In light of it being the 90th anniversary of CSI, the theme was Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future.

Jim Schaap of Dordt College led us off with an inspiring keynote that highlighted how Christian day school has been a journey of faith. Look for a shorter version of this speech in an upcoming Christian School Teacher magazine this year.

Next, futurist Rex Miller challenged us to with his excellent presentation called From Gutenberg to Google: The Future of Education. You can view it via this link.

Mary Hulst, chaplain of Calvin College, closed by encouraging us to encourage our students’ relationship with Jesus Christ. She pointed out that even though we may give a solid worldview education in our schools, we need to focus also on helping kids enter into relationship with Jesus Christ.

We enjoyed some outstanding worship times led by Chip Dykema from Chicago Southwest Christian High School, excellent devotion times, stimulating workshops, and reuniting with long time friends.

We look forward to next year’s convention July 18 – 22 around the theme Serving our Creator/Caring for Creation in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information on how you can contribute, please click here:  Call_for_Leadership.

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Filed under encouraging the heart, leadership, resources

A Common Core for Christian schools?

In these past few months, something remarkable happened across the United States: many states adopted a set of national standards called the Common Core State Standards.  (Those states are shown in yellow in the graphic to the right.) The adoption of the standards was sped along by the fact that any states applying for Race to the Top monies were required to have previously adopted the standards.

It is also remarkable that there has been a lot of praise for the content of the standards. Experts have even stated that the standards are stronger and more helpful than the current standards of 80% of the states. The standards are currently completed in language arts and math, with other areas still in the works.

As a “curriculum person,” I am always excited to have greater clarity around what we view as important for students to know and do. Yet, this set of standards lacks the kind of perspective toward wisdom that we are seeking to achieve with our students in Christian schools. I am not arguing with the content of the standards, just their completeness, as they are not wholistic in their current form, nor do they recognize the source all truth.

Would it be beneficial to have an amended Common Core standards for Christian schools that include an articulation of the kind of student outcomes we are working toward with our students?

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Filed under curriculum, discernment, distinctively Christian, image of God, resources, staff development, student assessments, student outcomes

Articulation is not an art, but a passion!

I have sung in many choirs with different directors over the years and without fail, and regardless of the skill level of the choir, each director has encouraged the choir members to articulate more clearly. Bottom line, even though the choir members have spent hours learning the notes, phrasing, intonation, timing, and expression, if they don’t articulate the words carefully, they are failing to communicate. Singers may be aware of the importance of clear enunciation and even have the desire to communicate the message, but articulation requires sustained, focused, and passionate energy to succeed.

According to David Kinnaman and Barna Research, teens are not articulating their faith with clarity. Even though kids like the concept of being Christian, the researchers are finding that kids are having less conversations about what they believe. What is more surprising is that among Protestant teens, the Barna study states “they are more likely to pray, go to worship services, read the Bible and attend youth group meetings than were Protestant-affiliated teens a dozen years ago.” It appears that our kids have bought the idea that we are to inclusive and not offend anyone – even when it comes to our deepest convictions of faith. Where would they get this idea?

Christian Smith, in his impressive Soul Searching study of 13-17 year old students, tells us that we get what we are – in other words, our kids are emulating our behavior. In a recent study by the Christian Reformed Church (the church out of which many CSI schools were born), the devotional habits of adults are in serious decline. For example, the percentage of families having daily devotions has declined from 60% in 1992 to 43% in 2007. If we don’t engage in regular spiritual disciplines, how can we expect our kids to? If they don’t see us sharing our faith with others, how can we expect that they will?

In a video clip I use in workshops, the avowed atheist entertainer, Penn Jillette, speaks about an encounter with a businessman who gave him a New Testament after a performance. Penn respected that gesture and believes that everyone who feels strongly about their faith should be proselytizing. He likens the lack of sharing one’s faith to seeing a truck bearing down on someone and not trying to push them out of the way. In other words if you believe that a person is going to hell and you have a way to save them, but don’t tell them, you are acting as if you hate them.

Are we teaching kids how to have conversations about Jesus? Are we modeling that for them in our own lives?

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Filed under devotional, kids/culture, parenting, student outcomes, worship