Dan Beerens says he’s not so keen on students leaving school with all A’s, as showing clear signs they’re flourishing as whole persons.
The Christian education consultant and thought leader has created what might be called a flourishing index, a list of 10 characteristics students, schools, parents and even the broader community could consider when supporting the young people in their lives.
Beerens has identified 10 “signs” a student is flourishing. She or he has:
1. A passion for further learning.
2. A desire to serve and make a difference.
3. An ability to see connections. “It’s the people who have the ability to see connections in the world that get things done,” says Beerens.
4. An ability to bloom where you are planted, which takes both an understanding of humanity and of global, cultural settings and conditions.
5. An ability to think divergently and creatively about problems and solutions. Beerens notes with information “at our fingertips” today via the Internet, the greater need is for higher level, critical and analytical thinking.
6. An ability to demonstrate empathy for others, which is a key element in human flourishing, says Beerens, noting the tragic consequences of world leaders with brilliant minds but no compassion for people.
7. A desire to act morally and ethically across all aspects of life.
8. An understanding of how God has gifted and called you as a person. Who have you been made to be? How are you wired? What are the passions that make you want to learn, grow and be fully alive?
9. Effective life habits and spiritual disciplines.
10 A determination to bring joy and hope into the lives of others.
Beerens proposes that schools can support students to cultivate these kinds of qualities by focusing on a few core activities, beginning with helping students feel like they belong.
From there, schools can help build students’ competence in seeing coherence and connections, and the unique contribution they have to make, acting as part of the community and collaborating. Helping students learn to work creatively as well as walk in the way of Christ is also foundational for them to thrive, Beerens says.
“These are some of the key words that I like to use, in the sense that schools that do these things well help kids flourish,” Beerens says.
— More to Come