How do students, educators, and schools flourish together—especially in an era of increasing pressure from standardized testing, growing challenges to student mental health and well-being, and frequent educator burnout? Many schools strive toward academic achievement as their primary marker of success, but this well-meaning approach can lead to a reductionist view in which students are too often seen as statistics rather than whole human beings. Teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course students know that flourishing is a much broader and more holistic aim for education. But what is to be done?
The goal of this book is to call Christian educators back to a better vision of flourishing within a robust theological framework, with the practical guidance necessary for implementation. To accomplish this, Lynn Swaner and Andy Wolfe take readers through an exploration of five essential domains identified through extensive empirical research—purpose, relationships, learning, resources, and well-being.
An ideal resource for professional development and strategic planning, Flourishing Together persistently adheres to the principle that “anything that is worth building cannot be built alone.” Thus, the vision for flourishing here is one in which the school community is understood as an interconnected ecosystem, in which “each one’s flourishing is dependent on their flourishing together.” Accordingly, teachers and administrators will be inspired and equipped to reshape their schools as places where they—alongside their students—can flourish together in a community of abundant life.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part One: Purpose 1. Our Shared Calling 2. Fullness of Life 3. Reimagining Purpose Part Two: Relationships 4. Flourishing Relationships 5. Abiding Together 6. Reimagining Relationships Part Three: Learning 7. Learning for Flourishing 8. Asking Questions 9. Reimagining Learning Part Four: Resources 10. Educational Abundance 11. Breaking Bread 12. Reimagining Resources Part Five: Well-Being 13. Well-Being in Schools 14. Jars of Clay 15. Reimagining Well-Being Epilogue
Lynn E. Swaner serves as the chief strategy and innovation officer at the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), where she leads thought leadership and research initiatives including ACSI's signature Flourishing Schools Research. In her previous work as an education faculty member in higher education, she conducted research and published on well-being, adult learning, and student development.
Andy Wolfe is the executive director of education for the Church of England. Previously, he worked as a senior leader in a large high school, where he oversaw the development of teaching and learning and the school's Christian ethos.
“Swaner and Wolfe, educational leaders with a global reputation, are a superb team, able to bring together the best in American and English school education. They are experienced and inspiring, deeply rooted in intelligent and imaginative Christian faith, and up-to-date in relevant research on education, learning, and well-being. Above all, they combine a tested vision with practical guidelines for teachers, students, and school leaders. The result is a wisdom that you would hope might shape the schools your own children and grandchildren attend.” — David F. Ford Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus at the University of Cambridge
“This is a wonderful book. It explores, both in principle and in practice, what flourishing might look like in schools for students and educators alike. It contains a rich feast for reflection and practical steps that will take us further in our journey towards flourishing. It is a must-read for anyone with a vision and passion for education.” — Paula Gooder Canon Chancellor at St. Paul’s Cathedral
“Flourishing Together offers timely, practical advice to Christian educators seeking to live and share with students a resilient, grounded, and flourishing way of being in our era of widespread teacher burnout and student disengagement. The timeless wisdom contained in this theologically rich book is applicable far beyond the field of education. Swaner and Wolfe offer essential guidance for living well, with clarity and love. This is an invitation to greater personal and communal wholeness. Highly recommended!” — Matthew T. Lee Director of Empirical Research at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University
“This book will make your heart sing. Swaner and Wolfe encourage us to reflect deeply on what it means to live and love within a flourishing school community. They offer the chance to engage in dialogue, to collaborate, and ultimately to have the courage and wisdom to embrace the sea of possibilities within our schools.” — Dame Alison Peacock chief executive officer of the Chartered College of Teaching, London
“In a world that wants to turn education into bureaucratic data management, information cramming, or ideological rectitude, we need every resource we can get that reminds us that at the heart of education lies the pursuit of the spiritual, ethical, intellectual, relational flourishing of students, teachers, and communities. This is that kind of resource, one that starts from questions about what is good rather than questions about who is right and addresses them with valuable research. Read it for fresh insight into how schools might flourish.” — David I. Smith director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin University
“This is an exciting book. It is well researched. It has an international dimension that reveals common themes for educators, students, and schools everywhere. It has a wonderful vision of flourishing for all rooted in clear purpose, loving relationships, wise learning, high-quality resources, and total well-being. It deserves to be read by all in education—not only those who share the authors’ Christian faith.” — Paul Butler Bishop of Durham
“The Flourishing Schools model is essential for all schools, not just those of faith, to reflect on and commit to their purpose within education. It provides an essential basis from which an authentic culture develops. This book should be a handbook not only for school leaders but for all educators who wish to commit and connect in a deeper manner to their purpose.” — Allana Gay head teacher at Vita et Pax Preparatory School and cofounder of BAMEed Network
“Flourishing Together is a gift to Christian educators, students, and schools for these times. Winsomely written, it breathes peace, possibility, and practical and professional wisdom into our community life; please order a copy for your staffroom, every administrator’s office, and every teacher’s desk.” — Beth Green provost and chief academic officer at Tyndale University
“In an age when fragmentation, isolation, and individualism abound within educational policy and practice, this optimistic and hope-filled book seeks to orient educators back to the importance of the core cultural elements that contribute to flourishing together within our school communities. In a refreshingly engaging tone, Swaner and Wolfe identify the key building blocks of what constitutes flourishing within our schooling ecosystems and seek to provide a reimagined sense of what authentic and life-enhancing flourishing looks like within contemporary educational contexts. The book encourages all those involved in education to embrace the transformative and interdependent journey towards ‘life and life lived more abundantly’ and inspires readers to faithfully embody and exemplify Luther’s axiom: ‘when schools flourish, all flourishes.’” — Darren Iselin director of research and innovation at Christian Schools Australia
“In Flourishing Together, Lynn Swaner and Andy Wolfe lift the eyes of Christian educators from the easily overwhelming responsibilities of their daily work to refocus on an inspiring portrayal of their Christian purpose. They remind us of the importance of giving our attention to vision, priorities, and mindset if we are to promote flourishing for our students, educators, and schools. Bringing together insights from the USA and the UK, this unique book weaves together research themes, biblical insights, and reflective exercises to create a resource that can be used by individuals or as a staff professional development stimulus. Read this book and you will be challenged to reimagine your practice in ways that enable your students and staff to experience ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).” — Trevor Cooling emeritus professor of Christian education at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
“A Christian vision for education is one that equips young people to live the abundant life Christ promises, to be and make disciples. But how can Christian schools be places that actually promote this vision for flourishing? Building on the groundbreaking Flourishing Schools research, Lynn Swaner and Andy Wolfe vividly detail a practical model and framework for what makes a Christian school truly educate Christianly, in such a manner that it is itself an act of worship. A great blueprint for building (and keeping) a thriving school.” — Jay Ferguson board chair at the Association of Christian Schools International and head of school at Grace Community School, Tyler, Texas
“What an energetic and inspiring work! This book is part education theory, part devotional, part case study, part visioning exercise, and part handbook. Swaner and Wolfe track the research, tackle the worldview questions, and try the practice. In short, this book is a multidimensional map to new frontiers of flourishing.” — Michael Van Pelt president and CEO of Cardus
“When we read an excellent book, we often highlight sections, take notes, and share insights with others. Flourishing Together is that kind of book. Lynn Swaner and Andy Wolfe ignite our thinking, inspire our hearts for education, and engage the entire school with specific activities for each of the respective groups: teachers, students, administrators, and stakeholders. This book is an invaluable resource for schools to create vision, collaborate with one another, and construct a school culture where everyone flourishes together.” ― Jody Capehart author and founder of Christian and classical schools in Texas
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