At Oakland Christian School we have implemented the Teaching for Transformation (TfT) program. TfT provides a framework for the development of authentic and integral Christian learning experiences that are grounded in a transformational worldview with a focus on seeing and living out God’s story. TfT orients our teachers and courses toward viewing what we do in school as a small part of God’s much bigger story. God created a perfect world, but sin has disordered all areas of life. Since Christ has brought redemption, we are invited to join in restoring some small piece of our world to order. This means we cultivate a vision for our classes that goes beyond the lesson or unit time frame of sixty minutes or sixty days, to having a deep hope for the kind of people our students will be in sixty years.
Core Practice 01: Storyline
Rooted in a teacher’s deep hope for their students and the world, a class’s storyline helps learners to “see the Story” in which they are participating.
“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for that kind of meaning 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 to its end.” Donald Miller
TfT emphasizes 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. This is done by connecting the story of each unit with the 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. What a compelling story to be invited into!
Core Practice 02: Biblical Throughlines
How do we know what faithful participation in God’s story looks like? Throughlines, like justice seeking, beauty creating, and others, explicitly name the habits of living that students will practice through the other two core practices, storyline and FLEx.
"To be a Christ person is to be a Kingdom person. Working in the Kingdom is our way of life." Cornelius Plantinga
TfT has identified 10 biblical throughlines to help us imagine who we are as God's 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 call is. Throughlines shift the learning focus away from "what" the student needs to know, to "who" the student is called to be.
We can worship God in all aspects of our lives.
We can apply God's Word in all areas of life.
We can develop our talents and gifts to reflect God and serve others.
We can recognize idols in our lives and choose to focus on the true God.
We can respect and are for al parts of God's world.
We can glorify God through our creativity.
We can see injustice and try to respond with love and fairness.
We can discover, enjoy, and celebrate God's creation.
We can bring joy and healing to others through service.
We can understand and build community.
We can see and rejoice in God's fingerprints throughout all of creation.
We emphasize these habits and practices that both form the learners and transform God’s world around us.
Core Practice 03: FLEx (Formational Learning Experiences)
Seeing the story is clearly critical, but it is only the beginning—living the story is how we play the actual parts prepared for us by God in his Kingdom. So, teachers design learning experiences that are formational and connected to the class’s storyline. With clear connections to Christian deeper learning, Through a FLEx, students engage in “real work that meets real needs for real people—opportunities to practice living the kingdom story. Students from kindergarten to grade 12 are given the opportunity to respond to God’s call to be active, restorative, and creative in God’s story of redeeming love.”
"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
As the name suggests, Formational Learning Experiences are designed to form the student' hearts and actions as well as their minds, equipping them 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.