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Nurturing Lovers and Doers of Justice – 5: Amplify Their Voices and Listen, Listen, Listen

In my previous post – Nurturing Lovers and Doers of Justice – 4, I referenced Christensen and Vryhof who said:

If we hope to encourage students to be lovers and doers of justice, we need to craft learning experiences that make it more likely to happen. These learning experiences should be “peopled with authors, and characters who . . . provide a window to the world” (Christensen, 2009, p. 6) because it is in the experience of the world that wisdom is learned.

We need to craft learning experiences that focus on key moral and ethical issues within our learning communities, our immediate communities and in society at large. We need to bring the sufferers into the learning community and/or transport students to the sufferers. (Vryhof, 2011, p. 31).

(emphasis mine)

Lately, I have been thinking about how we can bring the “sufferers” into the learning community. Too often, I fear, there is a tendency to do this by speaking for the sufferers, the oppressed, the marginalized. In a 2014 article in Relevant magazine, the author says:

There’s a difference between being a voice for the voiceless and giving a voice to the voiceless. They are not interchangeable. And one is far more compassionate.

. . . sometimes, when we are trying to be a voice for those who are suffering, we end up speaking over them, shouting our own view without first really stopping to listen to their experiences.

. . . [invest] your energies in giving a platform to the marginalized instead of taking the platform yourself.

Similarly in writing about how non Natives participated in Standing RockWhen Christianity Co-opts Justice MovementsDae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr (a Seminarian and Community Organizer @daedaejr) said:

The church must become the student of the oppressed and submit itself in humility, by listening to the people most impacted. Grassroots organizers and civil rights elders have been fighting this battle for a long time, even during times in which churches on both the Left and the Right have rejected any forms of resistance.

When my sister is on the front lines at Standing Rock getting shot with rubber bullets because of her peaceful protest, the government can now point at the clergy’s afternoon of solidarity and justify that she deviated too far beyond what was acceptable.

We, as Christians, have recreated the blueprint for resistance; sterilized it of its righteous fierceness; sanitized it of its unhindered selflessness; and in so doing, diminished the power of the people.

We have yet to transcend our history of taking away the voice from the voiceless.

I have always loved learning about Native Peoples. However, some time ago, I realized that most of my learning was about them not from them. I became convicted that I needed to intentionally listen to and amplify the voices of the Native Peoples themselves. So began my journey that so far has included books, blogs, videos, newscasts, and twitter feeds. Steps so far in my journey include:

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 2015 Recipient of the American Book Award. [This is] the first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples.

Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognizedan indegenous Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”

Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples’ history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative


“All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker. [This book] “unpacks the twenty-one most common myths and misconceptions about Native Americans.

all the realIn this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolved, and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths such as:

“Columbus Discovered America”
“Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims”
“Indians Were Savage and Warlike”
“Europeans Brought Civilization to Backward Indians”
“The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide”
“Sports Mascots Honor Native Americans”
“Most Indians Are on Government Welfare”
“Indian Casinos Make Them All Rich”
“Indians Are Naturally Predisposed to Alcohol”

Each chapter deftly shows how these myths are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring Indigenous land and tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance. Accessibly written and revelatory, “All the Real Indians Died Off” challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.”


Mark Charles charles

Mark Charles is the son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man. He has lived with his wife and children on the Navajo reservation for 11 years, and now they are in Washington, DC. His objective is to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation through understanding and teaching on the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith. He is a speaker and a writer on these topics, most notably on the Doctrine of Discovery. He also serves as the Washington correspondent for Native News Online.

What is Wirelesshogan?

A hogan is the traditional Navajo home.  While it symbolizes the historical and cultural dwellings of my people, it also reflects the daily life for many Navajos today. While the Navajo Nation is the largest US reservation and is home to about 180,000 Navajos, it is one of the least developed areas of the United States.  Lack of running water, electricity, and many common amenities is typical for many Navajo homes today.

Mark was a speaker at the 2017 January Series at Calvin College. Watch him here. 


Native News – Celebrating Native Voices – Levi Rickert, editor. Native News is also on Twitter – @Native_NewsNetnative news





Indigenous Women Rise at and

Recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the original protectors and strength of our country, we call upon Indigenous women to join the Indigenous Women Rise collective.

This collective aims to ensure Indigenous Women’s voices are heard and to raise the visibility of Indigenous peoples’ rights and Issues.


So far to go, but the journey has begun.

elaine brouwer, Alta Vista









Celebrating NWCSI Schools – 2

The Evergreen Campus of Lynden Christian Schools 

Evergreen is offering a Spanish Immersion Program preschool through grade one. Here’s what they say:evergreen

“Along with our excellent traditional Christian education, Evergreen Christian offers a Spanish Immersion program in our Threes & Fours Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. The program will grow by adding a grade each year. In middle school students will take some of their content courses in Spanish, to maintain their Spanish language skills, while still rotating classes with their traditional English classmates. This program is designed to immerse students in the Spanish language while maintaining a high-quality, Christ-centered education.

What is Immersion?

  • A research-based, proven method of educating children by immersing them in a second or “target” language so they become fully bilingual.
  • The classroom environment becomes the setting for language acquisition through core subject content instruction, educational discourse, and social interactions.

How does it work?

  • Students begin their immersion experience in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade. . .” Read more

You can view a video about immersion programs here.


Ellensburg Christian School

Ellensburg Christian students are practicing the virtue – the liturgy – of praying for the larger Christian education community. This is what I received during the Thanksgiving season.


Thank you ECS third grade students!


Mount Vernon Christian School           

On Nov 6, the Superintendent of Mount Vernon Christian tweeted:

 MVC worship team @cornwallchurch Skagit great message on forgiving and forgiveness #allaude #asweforgivedebtors


To lean more about the activities of MVCS as well as some highlights of the October teachers’ Convention follow the Superintendent.


Sunnyside Christian School             

 “Our Jr High Choir sang at Sunnyside’s First Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony last night! Thanks for sharing your talents with our community!”

sunnyside To see this post as well as others go Sunnyside’s Facebook page.


Oak Harbor Christian School

Read the Wednesday Note to see what is going on at OHCS.ohcs

Among many other things you will learn about – “Caroling at Harbor Towers:  K-6th grades will be walking to Harbor Towers to share much of our Christmas program with the residents on December 8th at 10 am.”



elaine brouwer, Alta Vista, NWCSI



Celebrating NWCSI Schools-1

Even as I write, two NWCSI teachers are attending the first Christian School Educators Science Academy – a joint effort of Christian Schools International, science-academythe Association of Christian Schools International, and the Van Andel Education Institute. Rebecca Swier and Darlene VanStaalduine, both from Ebenezer Christian School, Lynden WA, are two among 50 educators chosen from a large pool of applicants that are engaging in two days of instruction in the Van Andel Education Institute’s Community of Practice model, designed to support transformation of science teaching and learning to a practice-based culture. Click here for more information about the institute and the participants.

Congratulations Rebecca and Darlene! We look forward to hearing about your experience.


Shoreline Christian School:

Andrea Grafmiller, SCS School Counselor, is teaching students skills for coping with problems at school or at home. In her blog post she writes:

“As the school counselor, I think it is important to interact with students in the classroom and teach them skills for coping with problems at school or at home. This year, I visited each of the elementary classrooms to teach the students about Kelso’s Choices. Kelso is a frog puppetkelso that helps me teach the students about how to solve their own small problems. First, I help students understand the difference between small problems and big problems. A big problem is when a student feels scared or there is a risk of someone getting hurt. They are instructed to tell a grown up if they have a big problem and the grown up will help. A small problem is something that a student is strong enough and smart enough to solve themselves. Examples of small problems are: someone cutting in line, someone taking a pencil without asking, someone refusing to share a ball at recess, or . . .” read more


Everett Christian School Weekly News – From the Principal – Joel Alberts


A few years ago an Everett Christian School theme verse was Micah 6:8, which states, “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  In this verse we have a clear picture of what the people of Israel’s relationship is to be with God. He has showed them what is good, and, because of this he requires that His people seek justice and mercy while they continue a relationship with Him.  Though Micah wrote to the people of Judah around 700 B.C., his message applies to Christians in the 21st century as God showed his goodness to us by sending Christ into the world to live, to die and to rise and give us salvation.  Even though grace is freely given, God still requires His followers to be in a relationship with Him and to seek justice and mercy.  “Justice-seeking” is a discipleship characteristic and a way in which a person acts as a hero.

At Everett Christian School, “justice-seeking” means that “students will act as agents of change by identifying and responding to injustices.”  This starts with a recognition that we live in a fallen and broken world. Yet because of God’s sovereignty in over the whole earth and the fact that He has called us to bring forth His Kingdom on earth, we are called to actively pursue that kingdom.  This means that we need to recognize that there are issues of injustice, that our relationships between other humans, God, ourselves and nature are not as they should be. . . read more


Monroe Christian School

Thanksgiving Feast for Students

Next Tuesday, November 22, we will have a traditional Thanksgiving Feast for students during lunch, Kindergarten-8th grade! The students (and staff) always look forward to this wonderful time together.


You are invited to join the 6th grade in being Christ’s hands and feet this Christmas. We are working with Matthew House to help families who have a loved one in prison. Many of these moms have never received a gift from their children, so please consider blessing these families by putting together a small gift bag that the children can give to their moms at Christmas.


Bellevue Christian School

Superintendent’s Blog – A Few Good Minutes:

One of today’s leading thinkers about Christian education is Dr. James K. A. Smith who believes that “The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people, a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their life’s expression of that desire.

In a nutshell, that describes the foundation of Teaching for Transformation (TfT). What makes TfT different than traditional Christian education are three core practices:servant-worker

First, every Christian classroom must have a powerful and compelling vision of the Kingdom that creates a longing and a desire within every student to play their part in God’s unfolding story of creation-fall-redemption and restoration.

Second, every classroom must have an articulate and inspiring student profile that invites every student to imagine how to play their part in God’s story.

And third, every Christian classroom must provide authenticity, that is, real work with real problems and real people; authentic opportunities for students to practice living the Kingdom story.       Read more


elaine brouwer, Alta Vista


Film Resources from 2016 InspirED Convention

Two films screened at the 2016 InspirED Convention in Lynden, WA may be valuable resources for your school community as you engage with social and environmental justice issues.

The first is The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011) is a story of children who feed America.

About the Film   the-harvest

 Every year, more than 400,000 American children are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The Harvest/La Cosecha profiles the torrid journey of Zulema, Perla, and Victor from the scorching heat of Texas’ onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards, and back South to the humidity of Florida’s tomato fields, to follow the harvest. We learn how these three young people labor as migrant farm workers, sacrificing their own childhoods to help their families survive.

La Cosecha/The Harvest tells the stories of Zulema, Perla and Victor; only three of the estimated 400,000 American child migrant farm workers who are torn away from their friends, schools and homes to pick the food we all eat. The conditions they live in are extremely difficult. They earn no overtime and no sick days and often do not even receive a minimum wage. From the age of 12 or younger, their family’s necessity forces them to work in all weather extremes. They are exposed to hazardous pesticides in what is the most dangerous occupation for minors in the United States of America.

This is legal in America because the Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, is a federal statute that introduced better labor conditions like the maximum 44-hour, seven-day work week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed “time and a half” for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.” However, this act excluded agriculture and thus left thousands of children unprotected.

An educator guide can be downloaded here.

The second film is Racing Extinction

Plot Summary

racing-extinctionScientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. They believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’, because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. We are the only ones who can stop it as well. The Oceanic Preservation Society, the group behind the Academy Award® winning film THE COVE, is back for “Racing Extinction”. Along with some new innovators, OPS will bring a voice to the thousands of species on the very edge of life. An unlikely team of activists is out to expose the two worlds endangering species across the globe. The first threat to the wild comes from the international trade of wildlife. Bogus markets are being created at the expense of creatures who have survived on this planet for millions of years. The other threat is all around us, hiding in plain sight. There’s a hidden world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Director Louie Psihoyos has concocted an ambitious mission to call attention to our impact on the planet, while inspiring others to embrace the solutions that will ensure a thriving planet for future generations.

Education resources can be found here.

elaine brouwer, alta vista

Begin With Why

This summer I had the privilege of listening to James KA Smith, keynote speaker at Christian Schools International’s Worldview Summit held in Grand Rapids, MI. He was speaking primarily from his recent book – You Are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit.

You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.youarewhatyoulove

. . . author James K. A. Smith shows that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. We might not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith helps readers recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices. He explains that worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom.

 More on this very important book will follow. For now, in reviewing my notes of Smith’s presentations, I was reminded of his reference to a Simon Sinek video. While addressing a different audience for a different purpose, Sinek contributes to the conversation by talking about how people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. What you do, he says, serves as proof of what you believe (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Sinek urges us to begin with ‘why’. Smith urges us to examine our practices, our habits to see if they indeed reveal that we love what we say we love – that our stated ‘why’ is the practiced ‘why’. Engaging with these ideas could lead to some very fruitful conversations in our educational communities.

Other Sinek TEDx talks:

After why comes: trust.

Restoring the Human in Humanity

Responsibility and Leadership



Interesting Reads

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system

“For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic” . . . ”

Don’t Become a Teacher, Advises Award-Winner Nancie Atwell    

nancie-atwell “An influential language arts teacher who recently won a $1 million international teaching prize has some surprising advice for young people considering joining the profession: Don’t.”

The 10 questions to ask before you start your one-to-one program


Purposeful Schools by Ed Noot, Executive Director of the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia

“Rohintin Mistry’s landmark novel, A Fine Balance, tells the story of four strangers thrust together who struggle to establish interpersonal equilibrium in the midst of social and political upheaval. The novel tells a compelling tale of survival in the midst of unspeakable hardship.

Christian schools also need to seek the fine balance, sometimes in the midst of hardship. This delicate equilibrium can be elusive. Our schools need to find balance in:

the desire for extensive educational programs/facilities and the need to keep tuition affordable
the desire for academic excellence and the need to care for and serve all of God’s children
the acquisition of skills and the fostering of imagination
competition and cooperation
Ministry curriculum and the biblical narrative
efficient governance and community orientation
covenantal faithfulness and evangelical opportunities
the list could go on …”

Owning Learning by Darren Spksma, Director of Learning at SCSBC

“If Christian schools are designed to assist parents in transforming image bearers into closer reflections of Christ, teachers must empower students to be active participants in reflecting on and consciously living with choice. For students and teachers alike, focusing on learning as a way of life, and being able to make choices in this area creates a sense of ownership. John Hattie, is his book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, shares results of an extensive study with evidence that concludes “that the greatest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers.”2 A school seeking to fully realize its mission is one that ensures that teacher and student learning include opportunities for ownership and choice. . . . ”

Good Reads from NWCSI and Beyond

What some of your fellow NWCSI administrators are saying:

Grace-Based Education

Submitted by Tim Visser on Wed, 10/01/2014

I get a kick out of all the changes education standards and curriculum have enjoyed over the years. We have gone from the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) to SmarterBalanced. Read more >>

Teaching is Modeling

11-11-2014 12:11 am – Tim Krell

When I talk to parents about what keeps them coming back to Bellevue Christian School, the idea they express is community. The relationships that develop between BCS families, students, teachers, coaches, and staff top the list. It is not a mystery that “modeling the kinds of relationships which should exist within the body of Christ,” is a part of Article 8 of the Educational Confession – Teaching is Modeling. “Love, respect and discipline as expressed in Scripture must govern all aspects of the school.” This is important and hard work.

The day I returned to Bellevue Christian School on June 9, I stepped squarely into an opportunity to model right relationships. read more

How Our Children Think and Why it Matters

Anna Peyton

Aug 27, 2014 3:09 PM

Like a pair of glasses, our way of looking at the world frames and focuses how we answer life’s questions such as: Who am I?  Where did I come from? How can I be happy?  Where am I going?  The answers make all the difference.

Read more or comment…

Homework Hassle

October 01, 2014

By Laura Eisenga

Twelve year-old girl, “Mom, can I ride my bike?”
Mom, “Is your homework done?”

Sixteen year-old boy, “Dad, can I go see a movie with my friends?”
Dad, “Is your homework done?”

Do these conversations sound familiar? read more –


Good Reads from the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia:

Communities of Grace

by Ed Noot, SCSBC Executive Director ◊

A quick survey of SCSBC school mission statements reveals a strong focus on foundational theological concepts such as:

  • students are image bearers of God who are uniquely gifted
  • our world belongs to God
  • students are nurtured, taught and discipled on the foundation of God’s word
  • students are equipped for service in the Kingdom of God
  • our schools seek to be transformative

Articulating these beliefs in our mission statements is entirely appropriate and I have often advocated for their inclusion as I have been involved in reviewing school mission statements over the years. However, it strikes me that one important foundational theological concept is often missing. That concept is grace. . . . read more


More Food for Thought:

A paradigm shift schools need now- and it’s not Common Core, tech or rigor

By Marion Brady

Modern education, worldwide, has lost sight of its primary mission—helping humankind survive.

Survival requires adapting to change. Adapting to change requires new knowledge. New knowledge comes from the discovery of relationships between parts of reality not previously thought to be related. Because the math-science-language arts-social studies “core” curriculum ignores important fields of study, and fails to treat those it doesn’t ignore as parts of an integrated whole, it radically limits relationship-discovery options. Locking the core curriculum in permanent place with the Common Core State Standards perpetuates the most serious problem with modern education—its perspective-limiting boundaries.

Below, from my much longer list, nationally and internationally known and respected scholars weigh in on the problem.

Theodore Sizer: “The fact is that there is virtually no federal-level talk about intellectual coherence. The curricular suggestions and mandates leave the traditional “subjects” in virtually total isolation, and both the old and most of the new assessment systems blindly continue to tolerate a profound separation of subject matters, accepting them as conventionally defined… The crucial, culminating task of making sense of it all, at some rigorous standard, is left entirely to [the student].” School Reform and the Feds: The Perspective from Sam. Planning and Changing, v22 n3-4 p248-52 1991

Thomas Merton: “The world itself is no problem, but we are a problem to ourselves because we are alienated from ourselves, and this alienation is due precisely to an inveterate habit of division by which we break reality into pieces and then wonder why, after we have manipulated the pieces until they fall apart, we find ourselves out of touch with life, with reality, with the world, and most of all with ourselves.” Contemplation in a World of Action, Paulist Press, 1992, p.153)

 David W. Orr: [Formal schooling] “imprints a disciplinary template onto impressionable minds and with it the belief that the world really is as disconnected as the divisions, disciplines, and subdivisions of the typical curriculum.  Students come to believe that there is such a thing as politics separate from ecology or that economics has nothing to do with physics.” Earth In Mind, Island Press, 1994, p.23

Read more –

 To Teach Facts, Start with Feelings

Recently, we heard from a teacher who decided to create a more dynamic approach to his history class . . . by teaching it backward, starting with the present day. “Here’s the world around you and how it feels to live in it. What happened over the last 20 years to get where we are? What happened in the decade before that?” Unsurprisingly, he met resistance from parents, who thought his approach was crazy.

From a neurological perspective, though, starting a history class from the present makes perfect sense. Scientists from Adriaan De Groot to Anders Ericsson report that human brains are very particular about how they like to take in information and about what information actually sticks. . . . read more –


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