Proposing a “Flourishing Index”

Source: Beth Chatto Gardens by antonychammond via Flickr

I have been thinking about the student outcomes of Christian school graduates recently. Certainly we measure academic achievement.  But if we are “equipping minds” and “nurturing hearts” so that our students can be world transformers, it seems to me that we over-measure the first, do not measure the second aspect (faith nurture) well, and may really want to consider a third aspect to help us describe how academics and faith development come together in our desired student outcomes.

I believe that nurturing faith, in and through the educational process, is the distinctive characteristic of why Christian schools exist. Yet there is resistance when I bring up the idea of some measurement of whether a child’s faith was nurtured or not. What is ironic to me is that our parents are judging this all the time.  We ourselves also have a strong sense of how well our educator colleagues nurture, and certainly our students have a strong sense of how different teachers nurture their faith, yet we rarely ask for their feedback. We need to discuss this aspect more – it is such a critical part of our missions – but that is not the purpose of this post today.

Given how education is changing, we are in a process of “re-valuing,” and it seems appropriate to consider the following as we think about what we wish to measure: 1) new information has recently emerged about the significance of student engagement in learning, 2) an alarming number of our students become more disengaged in learning as they go up the grades, 3) research has shown that divergent thinking decreases from kindergarten forward, 4) a Gallup Poll from last summer indicated that only 1/3 of all U.S. students could be described as “hopeful, engaged, and thriving.” As Christian educators, we seek to 1) show our students the connectedness of this world through Christ,  2) demonstrate to them the importance of a lifelong learning passion, and 3) help them recognize and use their gifts and talents in a vocation that God calls them to in the world.

I propose that an additional set of indicators focus around the concept of student flourishing and be called the “Flourishing Index.” Below are some initial aspects that might considered criteria or demonstration of what it means to flourish:

•   passion for learning

•   desire to serve and make a difference

•   ability to see connections

•   blooming where planted

•   thinking divergently and creatively about problems/solutions

•   ability to demonstrate empathy for others

•   desire to act morally and ethically across all aspects of life

•   understanding of how God has gifted and called them

•   demonstration of effective life habits and spiritual disciplines

•   determination to bring joy and hope into the lives of others

What else would you add to the “Flourishing Index”? At the end of the day and at the end of 12 plus years of education aren’t these the kinds of outcomes we are really hoping for?


Filed under distinctively Christian, mission measurement, student assessments, student outcomes

21 responses to “Proposing a “Flourishing Index”

  1. dintlekofer

    Great post, Dan. I would add something about students pursuing learning outside of the curriculum. This is somewhat incorporated into “passion for learning”, but I think it would be good to have it separated out. After all, we have all had students who are great in class, but don’t pursue anything intellectual outside of school, and then those who are apathetic in class but very excited about an outside project.

  2. Pingback: Seven C’s for student flourishing « Nurturing Faith

  3. Pingback: A Flourishing Index – Part 1 « Nurturing Faith

  4. Pingback: Flourishing – a passion for learning « Nurturing Faith

  5. Pingback: Flourishing – a desire to serve and make a difference « Nurturing Faith

  6. Pingback: Flourishing – the ability to see connections « Nurturing Faith

  7. Pingback: Flourishing – blooming where planted « Nurturing Faith

  8. Pingback: Identifying “take-aways for life:” using Essential Questions to nurture faith | Nurturing Faith

  9. Pingback: Flourishing – thinking divergently and creatively about problems/solutions | Nurturing Faith

  10. Pingback: Flourishing: the ability to demonstrate empathy for others |

  11. Pingback: Flourishing: The desire to act morally and ethically across all aspects of life |

  12. Pingback: What’s Trending in Learning? | The Link Online

  13. Pingback: Flourishing #8 – Understanding how God has gifted and called them (students) |

  14. Pingback: Flourishing – Demonstrating effective life habits and practicing spiritual disciplines |

  15. Pingback: Impressive . . . and readable! |

  16. Pingback: Flourishing – Determination to bring joy and hope into the lives of others |

  17. John Vanderhoek

    Hi Dan

    Years ago I proposed the following as basic for structuring Christian schools, curricularly, pedagogically, in structuring assessment and evaluation practices and for creating structures for teaching and learning. I am very excited by Wolterstorff’s biblically founded concept of flourishing which leads to the experience of shalom. My wife and I went for a walk the other day. On that walk we stopped to offer cracked sunflower seeds to birds in a small copse of trees. Chickadees landed on our hands and took the seeds. I said to her, “This is the way God had intended things to be. This is a taste of shalom.,” Helping students experience such tastes wherever they can occur (also in experiencing the wonder of techonology, supportive personal relationships) should be part of the schooling experience as should standing in awe (marvellling and praising). Oh how we isolate our kids from those experiences!



    1. Cultivation of an awe of God, love and a sense of wonder and respect

    2. Appreciation of God’s creation, its integrality and interdependence, the uniqueness of the individual structures, and its rich variety.

    3. Understanding of self in relation to God, others, and creation

    4. Cultivation of attitudes of caretaking and healing

    5. Appreciation of the Bible as God’s inscripturated word which provides guidelines for living all of life for Him.

    6. Appreciation of the place, province, and country in which we live

    7. Appreciation of other people and cultures

    8. Recognition that people give different expressions, both positive and negative, to God’s command to take care of the world.

    9. Helping students develop a love for learning and the skills that will help each student learn and report on their learning most effectively.

    10. Opportunities for all children to grow through structured learning activities and to demonstrate excellence in the use of their special gifts.

  18. Pingback: A Distinctly Christian BC Education Plan? | The Link Online

  19. Pingback: Impressive . . . and readable! | Dan's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s