Are you moving far enough? (The inadequacy of standards)

There has been a lot of talk in the school world this year about “moving to the Common Core” (don’t tune out dear Canadian readers – this will apply to you too!) and what that might mean. I see this movement as a good thing overall – at best it gives us in the States a sounder set of standards and common language. At the least, it gets schools who have been not focused on curriculum renewal back to a focus on what should be happening in their core business – teaching and learning.

And yet, I wonder if the “movement” will result in anything more productive for any school? Don’t get me wrong – I am all for aligning to a common set of standards, but my concern is that we simply stop there after alignment.  After all, meeting a standard, while admirable, is only reaching a certain level of competence. That has been my point in the recent flourishing conversation that I have raised in this blog. Translating the idea of standards to real life may be helpful in making my point.

If I am an employee of a company/school/institution, there are certain standards and expectations. They are laid out in a job description. The standards may be formal and informal, written or unwritten. If I meet the standards it can be said that I am doing my job – but these standards likely don’t speak to all aspects of who I can be in the position and what I can bring to my employer. They don’t spell out levels of creativity, of caring, of passion, as I go about my work and interact with others and carry out my work. These aspects are the “value add” pieces that I might bring to my work – that go beyond an expected standard. These aspects are the way that we bring joy into our work and life, and what we enjoy and appreciate about others.

Standards are not enough for any school, let alone a Christian school.  We can’t just stop at kids meeting standards and expect that that is good enough. Our job is to get them to the goal of flourishing. In the Christian school context that includes connecting head, heart, and hands. It includes helping them to see God’s design in creation and understand his passionate desire for relationship with them. It also means teaching students how to act on his desire to make all things new in creation and relationships, wherever he calls them to work someday.

Dear Reader – It is time to say goodbye for the summer! This is the last post on the blog for this school year – we will now take a break for the summer months – and let you catch up on reading all those posts you missed this year. :) Thanks for reading Nurturing Faith this year – see you in September!


Filed under change, classroom, distinctively Christian, mission development, student assessments, student outcomes

4 responses to “Are you moving far enough? (The inadequacy of standards)

  1. Matt

    Hello Dan,

    I agree with the insight….I know I continue to throw this out there….but what about a “connections” blue print for Christian Schools. I really believe students need to see how there learning connects to God’s World and Word. Time for “blue print” for CSI schools to help them help help students make these connections. One wonderful lesson I have learned over the years from you is not to make assumptions that these “connections” just happen in classrooms. I do think a blueprint will help us move beyond assumptions.

    Thanks Dan…have a great Summer….hope to run into you at the CSI convention?

    • Thanks, Matt – I don’t know that a single one is possible – but I would be happy to collaborate or give you feedback on your ideas! I think that what you are suggesting demands a sound philosophy and a clear model. The model gets to be the problem – it has to be generic enough to work for all subjects, but then that may lead to repetition that is tedious for students and promotes one answer thinking. That is why I advocate the essential concept at the unit level, but that in turn requires a teacher who has the theological and pedagogical understandings to pull that off. Once we have developed the habit of thinking well about, and developing essential questions, then we can apply this thinking to a variety of situations, resources, and materials. There are issues either way, but I think that developing teacher thinking will be better in the long run than a blue print that people may not understand and simply not use. No shortcuts!

  2. Randall Postmus

    Thanks Jeff, for your work and sharing this school year. I’ve appreciated your insights and comments. Have a great summer. I look forward to the next “round” in September.

    • Errr, Randy – this is Dan Beerens and actually I have been writing the blog since its inception – thanks for the encouragement. Even though I have been an independent consultant for the past 2 plus years, I have continued to write the blog for CSI. It comes from Jeff’s office, that is why his name is on the email – my guess! I will be continuing to write the blog next year for CSI – see you in September! Dan

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