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CSI Conference Focuses on Worldview

2016 Worldview Summit large session

Continuing a long tradition of offering leadership conferences, Christian Schools International hosted a three-day “Worldview Summit” in August. Just over 130 teachers and administrators attended the event, held at Grand Rapids Christian High in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Keynote speaker for the event was James K.A. Smith, philosophy professor at Calvin College and the author of several books on the topic of worldview. In his addresses to conference attendees, Smith noted that the Christian tradition is an intellectual tradition, and this is especially notable in Christian education. “Knowledge and thinking are not the whole of who we are,” said Smith. “We’re not just thinking things; Scripture talks about the heart. To be human is to be a lover; we can’t NOT love. Love is an internal disposition toward some goal, and as humans we are designed to be oriented to an end, a goal, and that goal is what we love. We are much more defined by what we love than what we know.”

Smith defined the term liturgy as love-shaping practices, and he pointed out that these are everywhere in culture, often serving as competition to Christian liturgies. While coopting some of these “successful” liturgies is tempting, Smith cautioned that that can “turn schools into customer service organizations” and “unwittingly add Jesus to the shelf of consumer goods as something to make people happy.”

Smith encouraged schools to work toward virtue formation: students who have developed habits that are virtues, “to habituate so that we are Christlike without thinking about it.” He also suggested that schools look at the language of their mission statements to be sure they include “being” and “acting” language. “Ask, what would it take to create the kind of people who will do these things?”

In addition to the keynote addresses, participants attended breakout sessions that highlight how worldview has been integrated at a number of different member schools throughout North America. The Prairie Centre for Christian Education encouraged attendees to “get peculiar” through Teaching for Transformation; educators from San Jose (California) Christian spoke about their experiences with the integration of Throughlines; Holland (Michigan) Christian educators spoke on linking practice to worldview; and Dan Beerens and Susan Koppendrayer spoke to groups on the integration of worldview with curriculum.

Attendees also had the opportunity to network and connect with other CSI teachers and administrators over meals and coffee breaks, another great reason to get together.

View more photos from the Worldview Summit on our Facebook page.

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