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CDL Digest

The Whole Purpose is Worship!

Fire-tailed sunbird
Photo credit: Le Jinjin

The beauty of this picture of a Chinese bird named the fire-tailed sunbird caught my eye and I found myself fascinated by the design and deep coloration. Pictures like this help me "to glorify God and enjoy him forever!" (Westminster Confession)

Sometimes part of our problem in education is that we are too outcome focused – I imagine some of you are surprised to hear me say that! Life is meant to be a journey, and life is full of learning. We are on a journey/quest of learning and wonder – it is how we are wired as image bearers of God – we are wired for questioning and discovery. The role of science in this journey then is not to nail it all down, but to continue to expand our wonder. Robert Sapolsky, a distinguished scientist, reflects this sentiment: “The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder, but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it.” Sapolsky captures the sense of wonder and complexity in these words: “. . . an impala sprinting across the Savannah can be reduced to biomechanics, and Bach can be reduced to counterpoint, yet that does not decrease one iota our ability to shiver as we experience impalas leaping or Bach thundering. We can only gain and grow with each discovery that there is structure underlying the most accessible levels of things that fill us with awe.”

Part of the purpose of learning is to gain a greater sense of wonder. Well known physicist/genius Richard Feynman suggests: “The purpose of knowledge is to appreciate wonders even more.” Our process of learning then is not to produce certainty through a command of factual information, but to produce a greater appreciation of wonder, to be increasingly motivated to learn more and more and to engage in the study of complexities yet not understood. In the learning process the student should have questions multiplying rather than being answered – and sometimes this might mean the questioning of things we thought we knew…or had an answer for.

Franciscan priest Richard Rohr suggests that wondering connotes at least three things: 1) standing in disbelief, 2) standing in the question itself, and 3) standing in awe before something. He suggests that it is spiritually healthy to remain open to all three things inside of you as long as you don’t let skepticism and negativity gain the upper hand. To remain in the question keeps us spiritually humble and open to what is possible.

Despite concerns about “science bleaching the world of wonder,” Phillip Ball suggests in his article “Why Science Needs Wonder” (New Statesman, May 2012 - no longer available) that “science today appreciates that the link between curiosity and wonder should not, and probably cannot, be severed, for true curiosity – as opposed, say, to obsessive pedantry, acquisitiveness or problem-solving – grinds to a halt when deprived of wonder’s fuel.” I believe we simply cannot detach our emotions, our enthusiasm, our fervor, our aesthetic and moral impulses, our sense of awe and wonder – it is our innate response to worship, to bow in humility before a God whose “glory is beyond the heavens, whose ways are past finding out.”

It is the task and the joy of the Christian teacher to balance the two extremes – to not too quickly give religious answers to questions of wonder so that a student’s curiosity for further inquiry is dampened, and on the other hand to not advance the idea that we must be in doubt about everything and that what we do know is simply the result of man’s discovery.


Fascinating Resource

Despite its unusual name, I find myself regularly intrigued by the website Visual Capitalist and the graphics that it produces to illustrate interesting data. If I were still a classroom teacher, I would be using these graphics and searching the site for more! Check out the top bar of categories on the site. I think this could be used effectively with students in grades 4 - 12. Below is a great graphic around linguistic diversity in the world:


Moonlighting Money!

My friend (and former student at my school!) Rev. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, VP of the Evangelical Environmental Network, is looking for curriculum writers to develop a children's curriculum on creation care for churches. See the job description below.

EEN Childrens Curriculum Inst Design Job Desc (1)
Download PDF • 21KB

By the way, the pay is pretty good and no doubt many of you already have developed lesson plans in this area!


Documentation Panels - Innovative Assessment for K-12 Students

Last week in the Digest, we looked at good ways to use classroom walls - here is another great idea to make student learning more visual and engaging. Please let me know if you do it already or experiment with it in your classroom!


CDL6 Update

We are delighted to add a fourth pre-conference offering on Spiritual Renewal! This outdoor opportunity will be led by Donovan Graham, Joanna Levy, and Jim Peterson. You can view more information here.

Thanks for responding to our extended deadline for workshop proposals! You still have until the 15th of October (next week!) to submit one to us.

We are looking for proposals that address the fundamental practices of CDL classrooms and schools:

  • Inviting and equipping students to create beautiful work for God’s kingdom (not for grades!)

  • Engaging all students with effective instruction that builds Christian community

  • Using assessment strategies to help increase student responsibility for their own learning

  • Implementing “embodied” practices, rituals and traditions encourage Christlikeness

  • Creating school-wide structures and leadership toward mission faithfulness

Accepted presenters will receive a stipend ($300 US, $400 CN) and a free registration to the conference. You can access the proposal form here.

Registration: We have also had more schools register blocks of teachers this week and know of others who will also be attending who have yet to register. We will have an enrollment limit of 500 for this conference, so if you are considering coming, we advise you to register soon and save your spot!

Partnership: We are also seeking interested partners. Please pass this information on if you know someone who might consider partnering to help make CDL6 possible.


Editor's note: We hope to share with you each week articles of interest that you may have missed. This will include current information as well as previous blog posts from CDL that perhaps you didn’t have time to read the first time around. If you have items you think may be of interest, please feel free to get in touch with me at


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