Seven C’s for student flourishing

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.


Filed under classroom, community, curriculum, distinctively Christian, mission development, student outcomes

6 responses to “Seven C’s for student flourishing

  1. weathertation

    I would work on the word competency. While I understand the sentiment it falls flat in the list. Everything else in the list feels like a compliment on some level, but not competency. I like another word in the list a lot: mastery. The definition (according to the Dictionary on my MacBook) of mastery is, “comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment.” May be comprehensive.

    • Thanks Jim for your thoughtful comment. You identified the word that I struggled the most with. I like the words “comprehensive” and “mastery”, but as I think about it more, I think the word “competence” has gotten a bad rep. When I go to a doctor or mechanic I want competence – that is to say not just “good enough” but someone who is very skilled at what they do, has demonstrated mastery of what they do, and display a comprehensive knowledge of their field. I am afraid we have associated the word competence with minimums – just barely over the line, good enough to get by – perhaps meaning something more like “functional” which when I apply that word to my doctor/mechanic thinking seems to indicate a just over the line level. I don’t want someone who is just functional, I want someone competent. Competence is critical for credibility – I must be competent at a certain level in order to be productively creative. I think of it as similar to “connection” – it speaks to the idea of belonging which is on the first level on Maslow’s chart of self-actualization, but it is critical nonetheless for flourishing. I will continue to think about and struggle with this – if you come up with a better word, please let me know!

  2. Matt

    Hello Dan,

    Thanks for this article….a solid framerwork….Wondering if CSI has considered publishing a “coherence” curriculum. Meaning: finding areas in our core subjects that will help students see how things “fit” in a way the shows the Bible to world (curriculum) connection. Maybe we call them intersections, or crosswalks or something as such. From there teachers could develop them in a manner that communicates best to the grade level/class ect…..Recent brain research supports this as it shows us the more we help students make connections the more brain development takes place…resulting in a deeper understanding. Your “coherence” indicator fits right into the recent research. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Thanks Matt for your response around coherence. If we want kids to be world impacters, we must show and teach the connectedness of all things through Christ. I like the Essential Questions to help with this connecting for several reasons – they help to frame discussions so that ideas can be connected to other subjects and to a Biblical perspective. They are grounded in reality and if well written easily understood and engaging to the students. Furthermore these questions should be part of the student assessment to allow students to demonstrate the connections they have made and to respond creatively.

      • Matt

        Thanks Dan…I agree with this and essential questions have great potential, but I think a resource that helps teachers devolop these questions is truly needed. Something that explains: What is good question? Where are the best opportunities within our core areas to help students make God’s Word to His World connections? What units of student lend it self to rich discussion and response? Something to help teachers capitalize the best opportunities. Some examples: What units of study in the social sciences will help my students best conside the mystery of God’s sovereignty? What concepts in novel student will help my students consider the concept of redemption? Don’t we run the risk of the questions themselves becoming disjointed and in turn losing their ability to be coherent if their aren’t some guiding principals regarding when(the scope) and how (the development) these quesitons are presented? Is there any resource such as this?

      • Yes – I developed a set of criteria for good essential questions with a group of colleagues a few years ago. They have stood up to the test of time pretty well. I train teachers how to use the criteria and to develop quality essential questions in my workshops. As I work with various schools using CurriculumTrak I help them to create good essential questions at the unit level that lead naturally to a biblical perspective discussion. I believe that this can be done effectively with every subject and the big ideas of every unit. These questions help to bring coherence because they encourage the learner to connect to previous and current frameworks/experience and they are engaging/challenging. I also believe that every Christian school teacher should be able to develop Essential Questions that promote faith-learning connections. Christian school principals should be equipped to train their teachers to do this work.

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