Category Archives: uncategorized

What can be learned from Finland?

In case you have missed the discussion, here is why some in the educational community are looking at Finland these days. Put simply – how do they get the kind of educational results that they are getting? What is their secret?

Well, one reason that we should pay attention to Finland is that since PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests have been inaugurated over a decade ago, Finland has consistently been at the top of the charts! Tony Wagner from Harvard wanted to get answers to the above questions; his Finland visit and reflections are captured on a recent hour long movie that has come out: “The Finland Phenomenon.”  As you will see from just the video trailer below they do some things very differently from typical North American schools.

I find that their approach is a much more attractive model for Christian schools to follow than that of our public sector schools who are being forced to a greater and greater degree into test-based accountability, more prescribed curriculum, more focus on only core subjects, and greater control. I believe that the Biblical principles, such as honoring the learner as image-bearer and operating with a high degree of trust, are lived out to a greater degree in the public schools of Finland than in North America. Canadian blogger/teacher Joe Bower put it this way: “Finland’s successful pursuit of policies driven by diversity, trust, respect, professionalism, equity, responsibility and collaboration refute every aspect of reforms that focus on choice, competition, accountability and testing that are being expanded in countries around the world.”

If you would like to learn more, I suggest you start by purchasing the video and watching it with your staff – it should spark a profitable discussion. If you Google “Finland Phenomenon,” you will also find many other blog posts and discussions on the topic – it is gaining a lot of attention.

How can we argue with the results?


Filed under change, leadership, mission development, mission measurement, resources, staff development, student outcomes, uncategorized

Happy 5th birthday, Nurturing Faith blog!

Source: Digivation via Flickr

It is a pleasure to welcome you back, or to welcome you for the first time to the Nurturing Faith blog for the 2011-2012 school year! This blog is a bit unique in that it is only published during the September through June school year and posts are made once a month.

Five years ago, blogging was a new phenomenon and no one was quite sure of its value or potential, but now we have seen that the Nurturing Faith blog has served an important function in the CSI school community. Between myself and guest contributors, the Nurturing Faith blog contains, as of this date, 218 posts representing 32 categories of thought. Those reading the blog have contributed nearly 800 comments of dialogue to the blog. At one point the blog was even rated #47 in the world (out of a half million blogs) by WordPress in its listing of growing blogs! The blog has anywhere from 50 to 1,000 views per day of the current posts on the blog.

I have come to appreciate the living, growing nature of a blog and although blogging has declined somewhat in light of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, it still serves a great purpose for writing beyond 140 characters, is more interactive than a journal, and more continuously accessible than a book. I personally have found the blog very helpful as I have taught online courses, staff development workshops, and in sharing thinking with educators around the world. I appreciate the opportunity to continue to write it for Christian Schools International. It has been a free medium (thank you WordPress!) and is free to the reader also – and hopefully it is worth more than what you pay for it!


Dan Beerens
Author and Editor
Nurturing Faith blog

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Did You Know 4.0 – fall 2009 version

Some of you may have enjoyed the previous Did You Know videos . . . well enjoyed is probably not the correct word – let’s see – jolted by them might be more appropriate. They are a helpful visual compilation of the kinds of rapid change happening in our world that has relevance to educators and others.

Here is the latest in the Did You Know series, highlighting media convergence.

In case you missed the first video and remixed versions of that video, the most recent version of the original video is the 3.0 version below.


Filed under change, discernment, kids/culture, leadership, staff development, uncategorized

Welcome to a new school year!

Congratulations on getting the train rolling down the track again with gathering speed!  We hope your first days and weeks of the new school year have been blessed and joyful as you greet and get acquainted with students and parents.

This marks the beginning of our third year producing this blog that goes out to all CSI member schools and others who have joined the subscription list. As I stated at the outset, the intent of this blog is to focus on the faith nurture of youth (school age through college), to connect people and resources, and to have conversations and share ideas around how to best nurture faith in youth at school, church, home, and life.

As you may have noted, we have had several contributors of content and your contributions are welcomed. Whether you have written some content that others have suggested deserves a broader audience, or simply have an idea for a post, I would love to hear from you. I always welcome your comments on posts to the blog as well.

This year we will be publishing the Nurturing Faith blog on a once every four week schedule, as opposed to a once every two week schedule. This should allow both you and I some time to compose and read the content at a more reasonable rate! However, I may post to the blog on an irregular basis – feel free to check back as you wish. Looking forward to another year of connecting in this way!

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The revolution – moving out of the conventional church

How is the church continuing to change and what impact will this have on the faith development of youth? The latest survey coming out of George Barna’s research organization, The Barna Group, puts additional weight behind his contention that people will not be worshipping via the conventional church in the future and that they are moving to alternative means.

A recent random sample phone survey of 1,005 adults taken by The Barna Group in December 2007 reported the following:

Each of six alternatives was deemed by most adults to be “a complete and biblically valid way for someone who does NOT participate in the services or activities of a conventional church to experience and express their faith in God.” Those alternatives include engaging in faith activities at home, with one’s family (considered acceptable by 89% of adults); being active in a house church (75%); watching a religious television program (69%); listening to a religious radio broadcast (68%); attending a special ministry event, such as a concert or community service activity (68%); and participating in a marketplace ministry (54%).

What does this trend mean for postmodern youth? Should we be concerned about this shift away from conventional church gatherings or be encouraged that perhaps kids (and adults) want to express their faith in more action-oriented ways?

Barna has now taken the revolution a step further. In his latest and controversial new book, Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of Our Christian Practices, coauthored with Frank Viola, he suggests that much of our current institutional practice is not biblical but can be traced back to third- and fourth-century pagan roots. Naturally, this is causing a firestorm within the organized church. Yet some are saying this book is potentially the most important book on spirituality written this century. Since I have not read the book, I can only suggest that you check out reader reviews of the book and consider prayerfully reading it.

If we who value the Reformed faith really believe that we are to be “always reforming,” we certainly need to take a good hard look at this book. Hopefully, it will serve to drive us back to the Word, to the study of history, and to the reexamination of our thinking about church. Perhaps this book, like Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 15:1–20, will help people rethink what is truly biblical in the practices of our church life and what is merely man-made tradition.

We should not be afraid to fully discuss these things with the young people in our care. Hopefully, we will be able to demonstrate a spirit of humility—a “seeing through the glass darkly” attitude—to teens who sometimes are turned off by their perception that we have all the answers. Could it be a helpful exercise for us, together with our students, to investigate a particular church tradition and see how it lines up with Scripture as well as how it has been adapted to reach culture? If we love truth more than tradition and believe the Holy Spirit is guiding believers into all the truth, what have we really got to lose by it?

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Filed under change, church partnering, student outcomes, uncategorized, worship

The real job of mothering – revealed!

Let’s face it – it is not easy being a mother! If you would like a good hearty laugh please take five minutes to watch this video about what a mother really does in the parenting process – hilarious!

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Trinity students visit CSI

Trinity Christian College students and Professor Pete Post visited CSI recently as part of their interim experience. Together we discussed the mission of CSI and considered the question of “Why Christian education?” The students shared learning games ideas that they have been developing as part of the interim class. They hope to have them compiled and available to teachers via the web or in CD format.
Trinity education students are also regular participants in the Nurturing Faith blog. I really appreciate their fresh and honest comments – they are closer to teen years than the rest of us and help to keep us connected and real as we consider nurturing faith in youth.

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