Writing a book is a labor of love. Publishing one in the education sector, and to go a step further, publishing in the Christian education sector, is an even greater labor of love with little hope of any financial return. Recently a number of my friends have done some really good work authoring books, and it is my joy to share their creative output with you in this post–just in time for your summer reading enjoyment!
Certainly, the book getting the most attention on this list is David Smith’s On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom. David has been emphasizing the power of pedagogy for years, and this book really unpacks how teaching Christianly in alignment with biblical principles really matters. For a great review of this book, see my colleague Steven Levy’s blog post of a few weeks ago. By the way, David will also be the keynote speaker for our next Christian Deeper Learning conference in Denver in February 2020.
At our recent Christian Deeper Learning conference, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Parker, one of the learning leaders within Christian Education National (an association of Christian schools in Australia). His excellent book, The Frog and the Fish: Reflections on Work, Technology, Sex, Stuff, Truth, and Happiness, was written for the high school/young adult audience as it deals with the big questions and the big issues of life. It was shortlisted for the 2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year. Written in very clear and readable language, this book would be a helpful tool for high school/college audiences as it looks at how we are shaped by the cultural narrative and how we can best live into the Kingdom.
While we are thinking Down Under, my friend Richard Edlin, Australian author of the classic The Cause of Christian Education that I have used in my grad class for years, recently came out with a wonderful children’s picture book entitled Sally and Sam Go to Christian School. Designed for children ages 4 to 9 years old, this book helps children understand why their parents have chosen a Christian school for their education. This is a helpful resource for elementary school entry/welcome areas, for teachers and principals to give to parents, for parents or grandparents to give to their children/grandchildren, or for children to read to each other.
If you seek wisdom (as we all should!), you might be interested in A Complete Guide to Godly Wisdom: 17 Wisdom Precepts from the Perfect Father by Richard VanYperen, former administrator at Eastern Christian in Wyckoff, NJ. This book is built around eight lessons from Proverbs 1-9 and includes a helpful 10-week study guide. It is very accessible and insightful and could be useful for a small group study at either school or church.
Although written primarily for an adult Sunday School audience, Reading Genesis & Modern Science: A Study Guide by Frank and David DeHaan would also be a great read for a Christian school faculty or could be used very fruitfully with students. Frank, a retired chemistry professor (and full disclosure–my brother-in-law!), and David, his son who is also a chemist, take a lay audience through geologic, chemical, and astronomical evidence of the earth’s ancient past, its projected future, and these topics’ intersections with Christian beliefs. It is helpfully divided into eight lessons with follow-up questions, answers to these questions, and other topics for discussion.
Just out is Dustin Messer’s Secular Sacraments: Finding Grace in the Word and Sin in the Church. Dustin teaches theology at Legacy Christian Academy and also leads a young adult/college ministry in his church. As a fellow Abraham Kuyper fan, I enjoyed his collection of essays in cultural apologetics that simultaneously finds common grace in the world and helps us to better understand prophetic challenges to the church.
The social/emotional development of students has continued to gain attention in recent years. Tara Kassi incorporates these skills in her teacher planner, Planning with Purpose. It includes student goals, 5-15-minute lesson ideas, assessments, extensions, quotations, and reflections built into each week. The 15 SEL (social emotional learning) skills are spread across the 36 weeks of a school year. Even if you use an electronic planner, I could see value in purchasing this paper planner for the organization of the skills and for the quality of the ideas found in the planner. More info can be found here.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post and did a podcast (on Lynn Swaner and Roger Erdvig’s excellent book, Bring It To Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning). This book could really help teachers and admins enliven curriculum, engage students and help them engage in meaningful ways outside of school. I worry that great resources like this one get buried, so I bring it back to your attention: it applies to all ages of students and is a great stimulus to making your student learning go deeper and further!
To conclude, I will preview a coming book that you may wish to read! Recently some of us led a Mindshift process to get us thinking forward in Christian education; if you were at the Global Summit, you experienced a taste. One of the outcomes of this two-year process is Mindshift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education, edited by Lynn Swaner, Erik Ellefsen and yours truly. Its chapters help Christian educators consider how to move “from” and “to.” In each chapter there is a short statement of where we have been, how to move to the future, and case studies of successful change. The book is designed for faculty reading and study with follow-up questions at the end of each chapter. Watch for it coming out this fall–more later!
Hopefully these labors of love will bless you and your schools professionally and personally. Happy summer reading!
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting DB Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. Dan regularly presents on teacher evaluation and professional growth, curriculum design, school improvement, technology integration, faith integrated learning, and student faith development at regional, national and international conferences. He is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning published by Corwin Press.