About Christian Deeper Learning

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

Deeper Learning: Playing our Part in God’s Story

We approach learning as participation in God’s Story.

Christian Deeper Learning is not primarily about the content but about the experience, because participating in God’s Story doesn’t employ just our knowledge or abilities, but also our deepest hopes for ourselves and the world.

For both 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.

Discovering our Unique Role through Deeper Learning

We discover our role in God’s Story by looking inward, realizing who we are as image bearers, and looking outward, exploring our world and seeing where God is working in it.

Deeper learning in Christian education is a way to learn content and skills while developing the character of Christ through aligning the unique gifts of the learner with the deep needs of the world.

Three Foundations of Designing

Deeper Learning Experiences for Students

Celebration of the Learner

Exploring what it means to be created in God’s image.

Mindful Learning Design

Examining how curriculum, instruction and assessment inspire inward and outward engagement.

Cultural Responsiveness

Seeking ways to embody our mission in school life and in God’s world.

So they can be

People of God’s Story…

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…engaged in real work…

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…that forms self and shapes the world.

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Who Are the Learners?

People of God’s Story…

All members of the community in a Deeper Learning Christian school are invited to see themselves as God’s beautiful handiwork, made in his likeness.

Deeper Learning encourages all learners to find their purpose within God’s unfolding Story: a story of intimacy, rebellion and brokenness, and an invitation to participate in restoring a fallen world.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

As image-bearers of God we are created to:

Worship

We are made to worship God, to find joy, meaning, faith, peace and love in relationship with the Trinity.

Learning deepens when the process, content and application of all we learn is guided by our call to worship in spirit and truth.

Connect

We are designed for connection to God and others, reflecting the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Learning deepens when it promotes relationships, relies on collaboration, and connects our personal stories with the story of God’s redemption.

Create

God’s first role was Creator. Made in His image, we are made to create.

Learning deepens when students are asked to apply knowledge and skills to create works of beauty, authenticity and service.

Engage

We are designed to put the love God has “shed abroad in our hearts” into action.

Learning deepens when we are engaged in school, in our communities and in caring for God’s creation.

Grow

We are designed to develop in our knowledge and understanding of who God is.

Learning and faith deepen when we can answer, “How does this help us know God more?”

Not for the Self, but for the Kingdom

Deeper Learning in Christian schools recognizes that the learner does not learn for advancement of self, but as a faithful response to co-create in establishing the kingdom of heaven – here and now.

Any Christian school that pursues Deeper Learning will have the above image bearing characteristics at the foundation of their design, and maximize every opportunity for everyone in the community to manifest them.

What is the Process of Learning?

…engaged in real work…

The process of learning is rooted in finding our role in God’s Story.

Deeper Learning educators employ educational strategies that respect learners as image bearers, foster personal reflection, promote collaboration, and empower them to be the leaders of their own learning, resulting in a deeper relationship with God and others.

I can only answer the question “What am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question, “Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?”

Alasdair MacIntyre

We explore our role in God’s Story through the domains of:

Curriculum

What content we teach.

Learning deepens when students discover the Creator’s truth present in reality, in God’s creation. Learning experiences are designed to provoke complex thinking, inspire beautiful work and form students into the character of Christ.

Instructional Practices

How we design and organize learning experiences.

Learning deepens when students are engaged as active participants, having rigorous conversations, making creative connections and constructing meaning together in accord with God’s word.

Assessment

What evidence of learning we choose to gather and how we gather it.

Learning deepens when students are challenged to assume responsibility for their own learning. They work for God, and not for grades. Regular opportunities for reflection on work and character deepen our understanding of ourselves, as well as our need for others and for God’s grace.

Culture

How we establish our values and practice them together in community.

Learning deepens when the mission of the school is reflected in every aspect of school life. Practices and spaces are designed to remind everyone in the community of the purpose of our being together: to love the Lord with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Agents of Restoration

Any Christian school that pursues deeper learning will consider each learning experience an exploration of a small narrative chapter in the cosmic story of redemption.

Educators design curriculums in which students not only learn about the stories of the world, but also serve as agents of change in response to what they learn, engaging in real work, thinking critically and creatively about how to work with God to restore the brokenness of the world.

What is Learning For?

…that forms self and shapes the world.

To practice Deeper Learning in Christian schools is to recognize the reciprocal process of spiritual development and active engagement in the world.

Deeper Learning requires the kind of work that both forms the character of the learner and shapes the world.

What if (Christian) education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of the ‘good life’ – and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking? What if the primary work of (Christian) education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect?

James K.A. Smith

We connect learning and living by engaging with:

Society

Learning deepens when we engage with our local and global cultural contexts, considering learning as not just a private endeavor but as something to be shared and lived out.

Life Experiences

Learning deepens when our lived experiences inform and are incorporated into our ongoing learning.

Outward Practices of Deeper Learning...

Connecting learning and living encourages learners to apply their knowledge and skills to produce beautiful work that solves real problems.

Learners are also empowered to share it with an authentic audience who can be blessed and shaped by it.

... for Internal Development

Learning that draws the learner beyond self, deepens self.

When students apply their learning to renew school, community and the natural world, an internal renewal and character development mirrors this external ‘making of all things new again.’

Any Christian school that pursues deeper learning will design learning that facilitates both inward and outward renewal as students explore their role in God’s story.

Now what?

CDL’s hope is that this definition of Deeper Learning in Christian Schools, People of God’s story engaged in real work that forms self and shapes the world, catalyzes Christian schools to reflect on their teaching practices to ensure they are aligned with their primary purpose: inviting, nurturing and empowering students and teachers to play their part within God’s unfolding story of redemption.

About Us

Christian Deeper Learning (CDL) was conceived and designed to bring together Christian educators who desire to engage students deeply in learning, help them discover who they are as image bearers of God, and help them to find their place in God’s story.

The mission of CDL is to promote teaching practices that invite and equip students to be people of God’s Story, engaged in real work that forms self and shapes the world.

We do that by encouraging innovative practices and a variety of design models that provide opportunities for teachers and school leaders to have deep conversations about what it means to teach “Christianly” and to better meet their missions. See this blog series, The Many Roads to Christian Deeper Learning to learn more about six ways Christian Deeper Learning is being implemented.

The Christian Deeper Learning conference gathers educators from around the world and offers a great opportunity to explore what Deeper Learning means in a Christian context, learn from national level professionals, network with others, and encourage each other in their professional work.