What Do We Mean by Christian Deeper Learning? A Draft Document for Your Consideration

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Tucked into my blog post report this past January on the first ever Christian Deeper Learning conference, I alluded to a small core group working on a definition and explication of what deeper learning looks like in the Christian school context. Out of honor to the small group that composed it and because I believe it deserves more than just a link (as well as the fact that you, dear reader, may have missed it!), I would like to take the opportunity in this post and the next to share parts of it with you.

As a core group (authors are noted at the end of the full document – you can reference that here) we each took our turn crafting a document expressing our thoughts about the distinctives of Christian Deeper Learning and then following up with phone calls where we identified points of resonance and agreement. The process took us several months and by the end we had not only gained respect for one another’s ability to articulate key elements, but we were able to reach consensus on what we are still calling a draft – we see it as continuing to change and invite you into the conversation as well. We hope you use it to stimulate your own thinking, discussion and dialogue among your colleagues.

Here is part one of the draft document below:

Deeper Learning in Christian Schools: Playing our Part in God’s Story

People of God’s story engaged in real work that forms self and shapes the world

What does it mean to approach learning as participation in “God’s Story?” Learning in God’s story is not primarily about content but about experience. Our participation is not only about what we think but also about our deepest hopes for ourselves and the world in light of God’s story.

Our role in God’s Story is discovered by looking inward, realizing who we are as image bearers, and looking outward, as we explore our world and see where God is working in it. Deeper learning in Christian education provides a way to learn content and skills, and to develop the character of Christ through aligning the unique gifts of the learner with the deep needs of the world.

So, for students and educators, ‘Deeper Learning’ invites us to become engaged in God’s story, equips us to play our unique role, and empowers us to apply our knowledge and skills to produce real work that meets real needs for real people.

Encapsulated in our bolded definition, the following three foundations for designing Deeper Learning experiences for our students are expanded upon and explored throughout this document:

  • A celebration of the learner: what it means to be created in God’s image.
    • People of God’s Story…
  • A mindfulness towards learning design: how curriculum, instruction and assessment inspire inward and outward engagement.
    • engaged in real work…
  • A responsiveness to culture: how to embody our mission in every aspect of school life and how to live it out in God’s world
    • that forms self and shapes the world.

Next time we will list out the explanation of the three foundations listed above – that comprises the remainder of the document. This part of the document responds in more detail to these questions: “Who are the learners?” “What is the process of learning?” “Who is the learning for?” I hope you see in the draft work a movement toward action by the student – seeing them as capable, responsible, and connecting their gifts to the world’s needs. What words in our work shared thus far connect with you? Please comment below.

Update on our next conference!

The Christian Deeper Learning Planning Team is pleased to announce that our next Christian Deeper Learning conference will be held on March 7 & 8 in Dallas, Texas at Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco! Initial information is on our website and we will be adding more information as we move forward with planning. We will be sending out a call to presenters soon and urge you to check our website for that information in the next month. For those of you who attended and enjoyed our January Florida Christian Deeper Learning conference (a summary here in case you missed it!)

One comment

  1. Phillip Nash says:

    Thanks Dan. Appreciate the work going into this definition and I have already shared the previous draft with my school community. It would be good to find ways to have a dialogue about aspects of the definition and the concept with a range of educators from around the world.

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