... serving God and others as we work and play.
since 1905

Teaching for Transformation

“The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people, a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their life’s expression of that desire.” 
James K. A. Smith
 

 

What makes Sioux Center Christian School distinctive?  We believe we’re Teaching for Transformation!

God is sovereign and Jesus Christ is Lord over all things!  That is the biblical truth that must gently whisper and boldly resound in every part, every thread of a Christian school’s curriculum.  It must serve as the core curriculum in every Christian school classroom.  The task of a Christian school teacher is to expose God's fingerprints in ALL things.

Throughout its history, SCCS has been focused on integrating faith and learning in everything we do.  In 2015, we started on a journey to further develop that strength—the implementation of the Teaching for Transformation (TfT) curriculum planning model. 
 

Teaching for Transformation binds together all subjects and activities, providing a framework for the education we provide and what we want graduates to be. 

It helps us live out our mission by providing definitions of:  

  • what it means to be a disciple (head),
  • why we have discipleship habits (heart), and
  • how we practice being a disciple (hands). 

It is our goal that our students will see God’s fingerprints in everything that is taught, understand God’s story of redemption, and see their role in His redemptive story.
 

God created all things.  Even after the fall, which indeed affects and infects all things, creation remains good.  Redemption impacts all things, redirecting them to their God-designated purposes.  Someday, all things will be fully restored, but the work of renewal begins now, and we are privileged to be co-workers with God in this process.  

It is into this story that teachers are called to invite each student.  Through TfT, teachers design learning experiences that help students discover God’s story and His fingerprints in all things, with the hope that every learning experience will become truly transformational for every student.

To learn more about the 3 Core Practices and other TfT information, click below.

Every Christian school classroom must have a powerful and compelling vision of the Kingdom that creates a longing and a desire within every student to play their part in God’s unfolding story of creation-fall-redemption-restoration. 

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for that kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.  The more practiced stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”
Donald Miller

TfT believes that every unit and every learning experience tells a story.  The TfT program tries, using the story discovered in each unit of study, to create a powerful and compelling image of God’s story.  The TfT program invites students to imagine his or her place in God’s story – now.  The TfT program does this by connecting the story of each unit with opportunities to tangibly practice living in the grand narrative.  Each student and teacher will begin to create a personal “storyline” and articulate how they see themselves living in God’s epic drama.

SCCS School Storyline:  Serving God and Others as We Work and Play

Every Christian school classroom must have an articulate and inspiring student profile that invites every student to imagine how to play their part in God’s story.

“The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people, a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their life’s expression of that desire.”
James K. A. Smith

What a complex challenge to imagine what it is to be a “peculiar” person in God’s story!  SCCS has identified 11 biblical Throughlines to help us imagine who we are as peculiar people.  When schools invite students to actively contribute to the formation of Christian culture, we need to challenge each student to develop Kingdom-building characteristics.  These biblical characteristics help us all, teachers and students, to understand what our roles are and what our calling is.  They provide us with chances to practice, opportunities to develop discipleship habits.

Teachers use Throughlines to connect each unit’s learning outcomes to God’s story, as a type of “thematic Velcro”, carefully choosing, together with the students, one or two Throughlines they want to learn about as they explore the topic.  This process shifts the learning focus away from “what” the student needs to know to “who” the student is called to be.  These Throughlines characteristics weave through the Bible and describe a calling to “be”, not simply to “do”.  They can also be considered “wholines” because they describe who we are.  Interestingly, TfT teachers often find that the students absorb the “stuff” of the unit better because they have a meaningful context for the learning. 

Throughlines are big picture ideas around which we can organize curriculum.  Throughlines are qualities/characteristics that we desire students to develop as God is revealed to them in all things. They are discipleship concepts that guide our living.  These characteristics describe how we can become part of the restoration of creation. They answer, “How NOW shall I live?”  Throughlines weave the big ideas into a transformational worldview.   A key component of the TfT program is that teachers are challenged not simply to tell the students about the Throughlines but to provide actual opportunities for the students to “live” the chosen Throughlines in each unit.

And what does God call us to “be”?  He calls us to be Servant Workers, to be Justice Seekers, to be Earth Keepers, to be Community Builders.  He calls us to be Creation Enjoyers, Truth Finders, Order Discoverers, and Beauty Makers.  And in all of these, He calls every disciple to be God Worshippers, Word Appliers, and Image Reflectors.  Here we get a wider picture of the roles that God has called us to be as Christians.

 

Every Christian school classroom must provide authentic (real work, real people, real need) opportunities for students to practice living the Kingdom story.  This practice then becomes a habit, with habits shaping who we are and what we do.

“It is nothing but a pious wish and a grossly unwarranted hope that students trained to be passive and non-creative in school will suddenly, upon graduation, actively contribute to the formation of Christian culture.”
Nicholas Wolterstorff

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something that he can learn no other way.”
Mark Twain

Wolterstorff suggests, strongly, that students must be given the opportunity to do God’s work NOW – to be active and creative in God’s story.  Meaningful work creates a sense of purpose in their lives, and draws students more powerfully to God’s story.  As the name suggests, Formational Learning Experiences are designed to form the students’ hearts and actions as well as their minds, equipping students to become people who live and breathe God’s story.  Research and experience suggest that formational learning best emerges from experiences that get at our gut and touch our heart.  James K. A. Smith writes in Desiring the Kingdom that “Education is not primarily . . . concerned with providing information; rather, education most fundamentally is a matter of formation, a task of shaping and creating a certain kind of people.  These people are distinct because of what they love and desire – the kingdom of God.”

We promise to design formational learning experiences that:

  • Invite every student to explore their role in the Kingdom story
  • Nurture every student to desire to be a peculiar people
  • Empower every student to practice their life’s expression

Want to learn more about Teaching for Transformation?
 
Check out these links!

 

TfT at SCCS
 

TfT Website


Christian Schools International