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Emily Veenstra
EDUC 398B
Prof. Joldersma
May 20, 2015
The Purpose of Education
The forms of education are ambiguous. Education can take the form of the experienced
passing along knowledge to the unexperienced; education can take the form of direct instruction;
education can take the form of personal experience. But the definition of Education is even more
ambiguous. Education goes beyond passing along knowledge; Education extends farther than
receiving systematic instruction; Education encompasses more than an enlightening experience.
Education should be holistic, taking into account all aspects of the person in whatever role they
serve. The purpose of Education is to promote human flourishing through the seeking of justice
for the marginalized and through the restoration of right relationships.
Before the promotion of human flourishing can take place, several acknowledgements
must be made about the nature of being human. First, it is necessary to understand that, as
humans, we were created with a specific purpose: to enter into relationship with God and his
creation. God is a relational God. Before the creation of man, he was in a triune relationship. At
the creation of man God spoke saying, let us create man in our image, in our likeness (Genesis
1:26). We were made in the image of a relational God. God spoke us into existence for the sake
of entering into relationship with him, with others, with creation, and with ourselves.
Secondly, it is critical to realize that the relationship we were created to live into has been
broken by our own sin. It is our responsibility to recognize that, since the fall of creation, every

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square inch of this earth is colored by the black ink of sin. Our relationships with God, each
other, creation and ourselves are stained by sin and the injustices that result from it.
When our sin is acknowledged, we are called into the business of restoration, working
towards shalom. To Wolterstorff, the idea of promoting shalom is the vision of human
flourishing. Shalom begins with, people living in right relationships with God, themselves, each
other, and nature and taking delight in such relationships (Joldersma, 2004, p. xiii).
Education cannot ignore the effects of sin, for it trickles from the broader community, through
the family system, through the school system, and through the very personhood of each
individual. However, Education can work towards reconciling those relationships that are
present as a result of sin.
Once we are able to recognize our innate need to be in right relationship, in addition to
the lack of human flourishing caused by sin, we are able to more clearly see the extent to which
Education must reach to promote human flourishing through seeking justice and restoring
relationships. Human flourishing cannot occur through education if injustice caused by broken
relationships with God, each other, creation and ourselves still reigns.
Just as the term education can be somewhat ambiguous, this concept of seeking justice
also needs a more concrete form. What does it look like to seek justice? The act of seeking
justice is prompted by, a holy dissatisfaction with present conditions and structures
(Joldersma, 2004, xii). We are disgusted and pained by the injustices we see, and this
dissatisfaction spurs us into the motion of justice seeking.
Now, Wolterstorff makes an important distinction between doing justice and seeking
justice:

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Doing justice to someone will consist of not wronging that person, of not
violating that persons rights, of not treating that person unjustly, of not being
responsible

for that persons not enjoying what is due him or her. By contrast, seeking

justice

presupposes a case of injusticepresupposes that someone has been

wronged, that her

rights have been violated, that she has not received what is due her.

(Wolterstorff, 2004,

p. 85)

The holy dissatisfaction we experience is not satisfied in the doing of justice. It only makes steps
towards satisfaction in the act of righting the injustice that has already been committed.
Thus, in seeking justice, we recognize that creation is fallen, that society is broken, our
systems are corrupt, and that the very nature of personhood is wronged. I am now suggesting
that, since the purpose of Education is to promote human flourishing through the seeking of
justice and through the restoration of right relationships, it is important to look at specific areas
where injustice is still reigning in our relationship with creation, our relationship with our
communities, and our relationship with individuals.
Immediately after God created us in his image to enter into the Triune relationship, he
gave us the purpose to, rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock
and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground (Genesis 1:26).
We were given a purpose to be in relationship with God and with the rest of his creation.
Yet, at the first sin, these relationships were both broken. In creation, the disasters we
find in the environment speak eloquently of the consequences of that broken relationship
(Houghton, 2011, p.10). As a whole we have failed to be good stewards of that which we were
created to care for. We continually fall into the temptation to, use the worlds resources to

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gratify our own selfishness and greed, (Houghton, 2011, p. 10), labeling it as providing the best
for the success of future generations (Tranter and Sharpe, 2007, p. 187). Our relationship with
creation needs justice. Human flourishing occurs when when we live in right relationships with
the physical environment.
As we interact with the environment, we also interact with others that occupy the same
space. This is part of what it means to be human. Doornbos et al., through analyzing a nurse and
patient relationship, demonstrate how, as humans, we interact with our environment, in addition
to interacting with those that occupy the same environment. For the nurse and patient, in
Doornboss vignette, this environment was the hospital room, where both acted as though they
had a responsibility towards one another (Journal 5). This leads to what I would argue is a
necessary aspect of both being a human and promoting human flourishing. It is necessary as a
human to join in relationship with others living in the same sort of community.
We play a certain role in the community that we are a part of, carrying out our
responsibility as either active or passive members. Doornbos furthers this idea by stating,
human life makes sense only within an interdependent web of relationships (2005, p. 57).
There are countless examples of people who have jeopardized their own flourishing by shirking
the responsibilities they had towards the community and environment they lived in. Human
flourishing occurs when people seek to live in right relationships with others that are occupying
the same community space.
Human flourishing is also promoted when we live in right relationships with the broader
society. According to Walzer, the good society is constituted by the peaceful co-existence of all
societies that aim at goodness (2009, p. 75). I would develop his argument even further by

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stating that the goodness aimed for is the holistic human flourishing attained when we live in a
just society. Gods goodness is interwoven into his character. For humans to flourish in society,
we need to seek to bring the goodness of God into every social structure (Journal 3). A good
society goes beyond seeking peace to reach a state of shalom.
Social structures include both public and private goals or institutions. Determining if
something is private or public goes beyond analyzing who owns it and looks more in depth at the
purpose behind the organization or institution. Does the purpose benefit the larger society, or is
it promoting individual means?
I bring this up, because the tension between public and private within the school system
is highly noticeable. As Labaree states, we want schools to express our highest ideals as a
society and our greatest aspirations as individuals, but only as long as they remain ineffective in
actually enabling us to achieve these goals, since we really do not want to acknowledge that
these two aims are at odds with each other (2011, p. 61). We cannot achieve flourishing by
pretending that seeking both public and private goals in Education will fulfill our needs.
Another example of this tension between public and private interest is demonstrated in
the brokenness of economically stratified communities. The U.S. might be the land of
opportunity, but by no means the land of equal opportunity. With the way our neighborhoods
were zoned and set up, we cannot even provide basic safety for all our citizens (Journal 10).
Wealthier neighborhoods seek individual success for their students, by providing increased
funding and academic opportunities for their students. Schools in poorer neighborhoods have no
choice but to depend solely on the funding granted to them by the government, in attempts to
promote public good, seeking equal education in an unequal system of privatized and publicized

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institutions. Though some individuals flourish under private terms, seeking justice in Education
would make receiving a good education attainable for all.
There are a great many outside factors that effect individuals and hinder their ability to
flourish. For example, when students come from economically advantaged parents, genetics are
the key to academic achievement. However, outside factors are the key that significantly affect
students that come from economically disadvantaged families.
Economic income effects access to affordable and reliable health care. To complicate the
matters even further, there are a greater amount of health issues that affect the poor. With the
lack of affordable housing in neighborhoods with clean air, economically disadvantaged families
are forced to city centers where inhalation of factory smoke and hazardous fumes daily increases
their likelihood of asthma. The houses they can afford are old, in dilapidated and often
segregated neighborhoods. In these old houses, they are at a greater risk of sickness effecting
mental functioning such as lead and mercury poisoning.
What then, might seeking justice in todays society and restoring relationships with the
others, the world, and our own selves look like? Are there concrete ways that we can begin this
restorative work full of the hope of liberating justice?
As I mentioned before, Education extends its reach beyond the school doors, so to begin
this reconciliation process I want to suggest that we start beyond the school doors. Though I
recognize that not all human flourishing happens monetarily, I wonder what would it look like to
make better paying jobs more accessible to those at the city center, therefore improving their
income; I wonder what it would look like to improve their income, therefore improving their
access to healthier housing; I wonder what it would look like to improve their access to healthier
housing, therefore improving their overall mental health; I wonder what it would look like to

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eliminate food deserts and promote more nutritional foods, therefore improving their physical
health.
Poverty, toting with it poor physical and mental health, racial segregation, and does not
promote Education, so why should education continue to promote poverty as it seems to in its
current state? This does not in any way promote human flourishing.
Students are categorized within the school system as successful, or non-successful based
upon the standards set by the majority culture. This attests to the, mismatch between the
structure of schools and the social, cultural or economic backgrounds of students identified as
problems (Deschenes et al., 2001, p. 527). The relationship between school administrator,
teacher, staff and student is broken when the structure of school looks beyond the needs of the
individual to focus only on the promotion of a certain biased agenda. When a school is seeking
human flourishing for all, they are not just sending students who misbehave out, but seeking
some sort of middle ground, where the student feels validated and is able to learn on his or her
own terms. When schools stop organizing good children from bad children and being to help
students discover the potential to learn and succeed in every individual, society as a whole will
make strides towards becoming good (Journal 8).
Our communities are in need of human flourishing. Our society is, influenced by the
neighborhoods, racial biases, and middle-class culture that continually drives what it means to
live and succeed in the United States (Journal 9). Tensions between race are still very evident in
our neighborhoods. Berliner repeatedly points to the gap between white students and black and
hispanic students. Through his research he pointed to the fact that race and ethnicity has become
equivalent with poverty in the United States. Closing the poverty gap that directly translates into
an academic achievement gap is one of the ways we can seek to promote human flourishing

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(Journal 9). To promote human flourishing, we have to extend beyond school reform and into
the dark alley-ways of the segregated neighborhoods that make up our nation. We need to
reconcile racial relationships in order for Education to promote the human flourishing of all. It is
common in todays society for the solution for poverty to be placed upon the school, when in
reality, there is little that can be done solely on the educational level that truly combats poverty.
Reform movements will not singlehandedly restore the broken relationships between the
impoverished and their community. Society as a whole needs to come together to mend those
relationships.
Tensions do not only occur between public and private goals; tensions do not only occur
between different social class ideals; tensions do not only occur between different race or ethnic
lines. Tensions also occur between genders. Our cultural idea of a successful student is one that
is often promoted by schools today. They focus only on teaching students to become rational
thinkers, governed by a well-developed mind. These qualities are valued, and interestingly
enough are actually considered to be masculine. This is in opposition the mind that is governed
by emotion and feeling, qualities that are considered feminine.
For human flourishing to occur in the veins of gender and gender differences, we should
not look at these gendered qualities as polar opposites, but realize that there is good in both.
Education that seeks justice in restoring relationships does not polarize these qualities, but rather,
promotes generative love as well as rational mind in all students (Martin, 1986, p. 10).
Schools not only value what culture considers masculine qualities, but also qualities that
are class and race specific. As a society, our government attempts to standardize education, it
removes the schools ability to cater to the cultural, social, and economic needs of the students by
forcing them to take standardized tests, tests that were created by a middle class, that, in practice

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tests students on their cultural competency. We are living in a society where there is a clear
culture of power. Chambers et. al note that students with more [cultural capital] are much more
likely to be seen as academically successful because the school environment caters almost
exclusively to this orientation (2009, p. 46). Rather than buying into that culture of power and
requiring students to conform to it, true human flourishing would come about if cultures were
able to be celebrated side by side.
There is now more than ever, a need for culturally responsive pedagogy that, embodies a
set of professional, political, cultural, ethical, and idealogical disposition that supersedes
mundane teaching acts, but is centered in fundamental beliefs about teaching, learning, students,
their families, their communities, and an unyielding commitment to see student success become
less rhetorical and more of a reality (Howard et al., 2011, p. 346). This is a holistic view of
pedagogy that focuses on the flourishing of the whole student. Education in and of itself
includes acknowledgment of the social structure that one is a part of. It means knowing your
students well so that you know how best to reach them, and assist them in developing as a whole
child, growing body, mind and spirit (Journal 12).
It is impossible to separate education and schools from the labels that accompany them.
It is part of our human nature to categorize and label the things we encounter, to better fit it in
with our own reality. Labeling helps us make sense of the world. When labeling starts to
interfere with human flourishing, however, or when our dualist lens begins to cloud our vision
and perception of an individual, we must be wary. In many educational settings we see labels
effecting not only how others view a particular student, but also how that student views himself
or herself. In fact, the labels that educators and reformers have given to low-performing

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students contain important information about educators and reformers values about success,
social diversity, and individual achievement (Deschenes et. al, 2001, p. 530). There is an
underlying power behind the labels that determine whether or not a student can be successful in
the classroom and beyond.
Recently, at the intersection of government and education, much of the educational
reform has sought to measure the quality of a school using a scale that is weighted in favor of
white, middle class schools, ideals, and neighborhoods. The focus is on data, labeling schools
and teachers based upon test scores, to determine if a student is receiving good education.
Measuring good education, however is far more complex than simply giving a test and forming a
score based on the results. Biesta argues that, an answer to the question what constitutes good
education should always specify its views about qualification, socialization and
subjectificationeven in the unlikely case that one would wish to argue that only one of them
matters (2009, p. 41).
It is clear to see the need for seeking justice in such an unjust society. The extent to
which our world is broken can be very overwhelming. If there is one thing that becomes more
and more clear to me as I gain more life experiences it is the complicated nature of relationships,
and reconciling those that have been wronged. It is a daunting, difficult process. We do not seek
to right these relationships through the process of retributive justice, a justice to, get even so to
speak. Rather we seek a distributive justice that aims at the distribution of benefits and burdens
throughout society. Wolterstorff furthers this distinction by saying distributive justice, is the
passionate insistence that all the members of the community are entitled to a full and secure
place in the life of the community (Wolterstorff, 2004, p.143). As we seek to right the broken

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relationships we strive towards embracing the marginalized by helping them find their full and
secure place in relationship with the other members of the community.
We do not go about the work of seeking justice and promoting the kingdom by restoring
relationships as people without hope. It can be easy, especially as a teacher to look at your
students and wonder if a difference is actually being made in their life. It can be easy be
overwhelmed by the amount of hurt, devastation, and brokenness experienced by each one of
your students. If, hope is a belief in the possibility of a better future (Edgoose, 2010, p. 387).
how can you look at a student who has been captive to the worlds injustice and say, Yes, I
believe they will have a better future!? And that is a valid question to consider, for, if schools
only reproduce the social stratifications that exist within the adult world, then they do not assure
Americans that this is a nation with equal opportunity for all (Edgoose, 2010, p. 396).
Just as we must acknowledge with holy dissatisfaction that injustices are present in this
world in order to seek justice, hope must be rooted in an honesty about the challenges we are
facing. Edgoose suggests that, with the acknowledgement of challenges, what can give us hope,
then, are the concrete relationships with our students, our willingness to be there for them
(2010, p. 403). Education provides the opportunity to show a glimpse of restoring right
relationships through a classroom environment that promotes human flourishing by concrete
investment in the entire beingmind, heart, body and spirit of our students.
As Christian educators, we are not just optimistic that situations and experiences will get
better to ultimately promote human flourishing. Rather we hope for the consummation and
redemption of all creation by a God who is just. Hope in a God that has the power to bring about
true human flourishing has far more depth than optimism that the events or goals of earth will be

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achieved successfully. Wolterstorff makes this differentiation by stating that, Christian hope for
liberating justice is not an optimism grounded in the potentials of creation but hope grounded in
the promise that Christ will bring about his just and holy kingdom (2004, p. 97).
As we discussed in class, there is a messianic hope, a hope for the here and now. This
hope inspires us to live right relationships with God, fellow humans, nature, and self, as we work
as Christians seeking justice and forming ethical communities where all members have a full and
secure place to flourish (Joldersma, 2015). Education is a means through which the messianic
hope can be realized in the here and now. When the purpose of Education is to promote human
flourishing through the seeking of justice for the marginalized and through the restoration of
right relationships, we enter into the messianic hope, realizing that the little things we do are
indeed worth while in the larger picture. The act of seeking to restore right relationships on earth
is a necessary factor to seeking justice, human flourishing, and ultimately restoring right
relationship with our Creator.

Works Cited
Biesta, G. (2008, December 2). Good Education in an Age of Measurement: on the need
to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Education Assessment Evaluation
Accountablility, 21, 33-46.

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Chambers, T. T., Huggins, K. S., & Scheurich, J. J. (2009, March). To Track or not to
Track: curricular differentiation and African American students at Highview High School.
Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 12(1), 38-50.
Deschenes, S., Cuban, L., & Tyack, D. (2001, August). Mismatch: historical perspectives
on schools and students who don't fit them. Teachers College Record, 103(4), 525-547.
Doornbos, M., Groenhout, R., & Hotz, K. G. (2005). Transforming Care: a Christian
vision of nursing practice (pp. 52-65). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.
Higgins, C., & Knight Abowitz, K. (2011). What Makes a Public School Public? A
Framework for Evaluating the Civic Substance of Schooling. Educational Theory, 61(4), 365380.
Edgoose, J. (2010, February). Hope in the Unexpected: How Can Teachers Still Make a
Difference in the World? Teachers College Record, 112(2), 386-406.
Houghton, J. (2011). Global Warming, Climate Change and Sustainability: challenge to
scientists, policy makers and Christians (4th ed., pp. 74-78). Cheltenham, United Kingdom: The
John Ray Initiative.

Howard, T. C., & Terry Sr., C. L. (2011, December). Culturally responsive pedagogy for
African American students: promising programs for enhanced academic performance. Teaching
Education, 22(4), 345-362.
Howard, T. C., Flennaugh, T. K., & Terry Sr., C. L. (2012). Black Males, Social Imagery,
and the Disruption of Pathological Identities: implications for research and teaching.
Educational Foundations, 85(102), 38-50.

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Joldersma, C. W. (2004). Seeking Understanding: The Stob Lectures, 1986-1998. Grand
Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eermans Publishing Co.
Joldersma, Clarence. (2015, May 14) Messianic Hope in Public." EDUC 398:
Philosophy of Education Seminar. Calvin College, Grand Rapids. Lecture.
Labaree, D. F. (2011). Consuming the Public School. Educational Theory, 61(4), 381394.
Martin, J. R. (1986). Redefining the Educated Person: Rethinking the Significance of
Gender. Educational Researcher, 15, 6-10.
Tranter, P., & Sharpe, S. (2007). Children and Peak Oil: an Opportunity in Crisis.
International Journal of Children's Rights, 15, 181-197.
Walzer, M. (2009). What is "The Good Society"? Dissent, 56(1), 74-78.
Wolterstorff, N. (2004). In M. Volf & W. Katerberg (Eds.), The Future of Hope: Christian
Tradition Amid Modernity and Postmodernity (pp. 77-100). Grand Rapids, MI: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Wolterstorff, N. (2004). Teaching for Justice: on shaping how students are disposed to
act. In C. W. Joldersma & G. Goris Stronks (Eds.), Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian
Higher Education (pp. 135-154). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Wolterstorff, N. (2008). Justice: Rights and Wrongs (pp. 115-131). Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. Print.

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Appendix
February 9, 2015
Journal 1, Ethical Vision
Reconciliation is a long word with lofty goals. The act of reuniting two separated people
or things at odds with each other is a challenging task, yet, the principle of reconciliation is the
foundation that my ethical vision is grounded upon. It seeps into how I view myself as an
individual, as well as how I respond to and view those I interact with. Reconciliation shapes my
identity, perspective, and relationships.
Reconciliation lets me know who I am and whose I am. In the garden, as Adam and Eve
took that first bite of forbidden fruit, sin entered that perfect world. Man, who used to walk in
the garden with God, was now forbidden to enter into such intimacy with his creator and banned
from Eden. Man was now at odds with the earth, struggling to make things grow. The enmity
continues today. No longer do we live in perfect harmony with God, others, and our
environment. No longer is anyone blameless.
But God did not leave us there. Jesus came to earth, sent to carry out the will of the
Father and (you guessed it!) reconcile his children. He came to restore the relationship God had
with his people. He came, blameless and pure, to take the blame and stain of sin for us. This act
of reconciliation is what shapes my identity. Though I recognize that I am a vile sinner, I also
recognize the blood of Christ washes away my sins and this fact changes my very existence. I no
longer act out of my own accord, but seek to do the will of the Father. My very identity is a new
creation in Christ.

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Not only does reconciliation revolutionize my way of thinking about myself, it shifts my
perspective of others and the world around me. I try to no longer look at others the way the
world looks at others. Rather, reconciliation allows me to see and love others the way Christ
would see and love them. Who am I to judge others when I myself am a sinner? Reconciliation
takes me to the cross, where, through forgiven eyes, I can view the world around me. My
perspective becomes Christs perspective. It is my desire to view people as image bearers of
God, people who were created in Gods likeness.
Reconciliation effects my relationships with these image-bearers of God. As I seek to do
Gods work in the kingdom, I join hands with others who are partaking in this reconciliation
process. So many areas of this world remain broken. People seek power of one another. People
exploit the resources of the land. Suffering, abuse, and pain are harsh realities in so many lives.
With the help of God, as I carry out his work, I can be a comfort to the wounded in spirit, so that
the reconciliation of Christ might be proclaimed to the nations, defining the identities and
shifting the perspectives of those who find their identity in Christ.
Blessed to be a blessing, is a common phrase tossed around Christian circles today.
Rather than using this phrase as my ethical vision, I want to suggest a broader, more challenging
catchphrase, Reconciled to begin reconciling. In our pursuit of the one who came to make
things right between us and God, we continue His reconciling by adopting Christs perspective,
and finding our identity at the Cross. Reconciliation allows me to live out the full joy of
salvation.
February 16, 2015
Journal 2, Justice
In his essays on justice, Wolterstorff emphasizes the role justice plays in bringing about
shalom. When considering how justice fits into an ethical vision for my life, one thing that is
important to be aware of is the reasoning behind seeking justice. We do not seek justice as a duty
commanded of us to take care of the widow, orphan, poor and alien. We seek justice, because
justice enacted brings about human flourishing. We seek justice, because we recognize with,
holy dissatisfaction, the brokenness of the world around us and desire to see the renewal of all
creation. We seek justice, because God loves justice and, desires the flourishing of each and
every one of of [His] human creatures (p. 82). We seek justice, because, to be a human being is
to have worth (p. 131).
Seeking justice goes hand in hand with reconciliation. As I mentioned earlier, the process
of reconciliation allows me to know who I am. I am a human, a sinner; however, God did not
leave us in that sinful state. He came to earth as King, harbinger of justice. It is interesting to
me that, the most emphatic identifications of Jesus as king are made, significantly, by Gentiles
(p.120). Christ came to reconcile, to reunite all nations back to himself. In coming as king, God
makes it clear to us that we have worth, and because of that worth, we are shown justice through
reconciliation.
The process of reconciliation also allows me to know whose I am. I have worth in Gods
sight. Without acknowledging that worth, I believe I would begin seeking justice for the wrong
reasons. I would seek justice out of duty. I would seek justice based on doing what is right and
moral. My foundation for justice would be good will. Since I know whose I am, however, I

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recognize that I have worth in Gods sight, and that others I interact with share this worth. My
motivation for seeking justice, therefore, is not grounded upon the shifting sands of good will,
but upon the seeking of shalom for furthering the kingdom of God. Reconciliation is an act
outside of my own will, and therefore allows me to seek justice for reasons rooted deeper than
my desire for good will.
As I view others, I no longer view them through eyes judging from a human standpoint,
but recognize that they too have worth in Gods eyes. Reconciliation involves recognizing
brokenness, restoring relationships, and reuniting the creation with the creator by seeking to
bring justice in all circumstances.
Having an ethical vision of reconciliation and justice orchestrated together in harmony
has the potential to be overwhelming. There will be times when these visions combined seem
grandiose and next-to-impossible when compared to all the injustices of this world. There will
be times where the brokenness, the shattered jars of clay surrounding me seem too great to be
glued back into a jar-like shape; therefore, in those moments, it is important to sustain humble
confidence that the Lord is actively pursuing the justice that we prove incapable of bringing to
this earth without his help. The Spirit is the one who has reconciled us through the blood of the
lamb to restore the relationship that was destroyed by our sin, and because we are reconciled, we
seek to show the same restorative justice to all those we encounter.

February 23. 2015


Journal 3, The Good Society
As I approached thinking about what it meant for a society to be considered good, I found
myself thinking in circles. This started by addressing the phrase The Good Society, word, by
word. Walzer does a great job of addressing both, the, and Society, but doesnt necessarily
elaborate on what Good means.
The first thing that Walzer argues for in, What is, The Good Society? is the misuse of
the definite article, the, since there will never be one singular good society. I agree with Walzer
on this point. As creative human beings, we are going to judge societies, goodness
subjectively. What might be good for some is not necessarily considered good for others that
differ in cultural background, different religious affiliations, etc.. We need a variety of societies
that provide unique citizens with different things. Hales recognizes the subjectivity by which
good countries are ranked, and attempts to eliminate it by focusing on quantitative data that looks
at the freedom, literacy, health, happiness of citizens and standard of living in different countries,
in order to determine which could be ranked the best. Even these rankings however, do not
represent the best societies, only societies that might be doing better than others. Are those five
key traits really what define goodness?
Walzer goes on to mention the different aspects that make up society, including
movements, associations, communities and states. These four things interweave across each
other to make a tight, intricate web of society. All of these four things must be present for
something to be considered a good society. I agree with Walzer in this respect as well. Society
must always be working toward bettering itself. When a language stops changing and being
spoken in everyday life, it is considered a dead language. It still exists but no longer are new

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words being added to describe new experiences. This is similar to how a society should work. A
society that does not seek bettering itself through change will not survive in the struggle towards
goodness. But what really is this goodness that they are struggling for?
For a society to be considered good, all of its members must be aiming towards
goodness, or in Walzers words, the good society is constituted by the peaceful co-existence of
all societies that aim at goodness (75). But what is this, goodness that societies aim for?
The definition of, good, is what Walzer and Hales miss. This was the circle I continued
to think through as I read both these articles. A good society would be free of all the things that
hold humans back from true flourishing. A good society goes beyond seeking peace to seek
shalom. As I Christian, I acknowledge that God is Good. That goodness is interwoven into his
character. For humans to flourish in society, we need to seek to bring the goodness of God into
every social structure.
There is no way society as a whole will be able to attain ultimate Goodness, but it can
continue to better the goodness it has. Though we acknowledge that, until Christ comes again
making the Goodness complete, the work we do that promotes human flourishing can help bring
about an incomplete goodness.

March 2, 2015
Journal 4, Sustainability, Peak Oil, and the Good Society
It is important to remember that good society does not just include happy-go-lucky
people. In fact, a good societys goal is not even to make people happy. Flourishing, rather, is
what a good society works toward. This means every part of the society is flourishing, both the
environment and its inhabitants.
Once again, I look around me with, holy dissatisfaction at the brokenness of the world
around me, this time focusing on the physical environment. We consume resources without
thought. We disrupt nature in our drive to find more non-renewable resources. We are nearing
the peak oil crisis, where, the global demand for oil will exceed our capacity to extract it
(Tranter & Sharpe, 2007, p. 181). We have become completely dependent on oil, something that
has no lasting value. The harsh reality is, we are chasing after something we find so necessary
for everyday life, yet something that will soon run dry. Look around. Our environment is far
from flourishing.
As seekers of justice, we are pursuing flourishing in creation as a crucial part of human
flourishing. We recognize sustainability is a lofty goal, in which it is necessary to address
human attitudes concerned with resource use, lifestyle, wealth and poverty (Houghton, 2011,
p. 2). This call to be good stewards of Gods creation means we have to start with adjusting our
own attitudes about peak oil and consumption, to see with open eyes the lasting effects our
lifestyles have on the rest of creation.
In this reformed tradition, we believe it to be our mandate to care for the earthevery
square inch of itbecause every square inch has been touched by the fall. This is a daunting,
counter-cultural task. I really appreciated Houghtons perspective towards this challenge,

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though, for he reminds us that we are not alone. In partnership with scientific knowledge, with
thoughtful application of technology, and most importantly with God himself, we approach
stewardship with, honesty, holism and humility (p. 11).
In their article, Children and Peak Oil: an Opportunity in Crisis, Tranter and Sharpe
discuss some positive results of peak oil, namely the impact it will have on children. Though I
dont necessarily agree with everything their argument suggest, I think they paint a beautiful
picture of what a good, sustainable society, could look like. In this society, community is central.
Children live and play and create with other children in their neighborhood. It is a safe society,
where all neighbors know and are looking out for one another. This picture of society is a
sustainable one, one that is not consuming nonrenewable resources, by driving across town five
times a day, but investing in the businesses and lives that live around them.
This picture might seem idealistic, and I dont think we will attain this ideal solely by
addressing peak oil. I do think, however, that seeking justice in creation is one component of
bettering the community, society, and civilization. Sustainable attitudes recognize that no
individual has any claim on the earth, for everything on this earth was created by and for the
enjoyment of the Creator. We practice sustainability in hopes that every square inch of creation
might flourish.

March 9, 2015
Journal 5, Nature of Persons, Part 1
What does it mean to be a human? This is the question that we have been wrestling with,
using Doornbos et al. and Martin to influence our thoughts and prompt our discussions. How do
we view ourselves and those we enter into community with? The easy way to answer this
question would be to use the blanket statement that being human means those are made in the
image of the Creator. Though this might be a broad way to look at it, there is more to being
human I consider there to be more that makes up being human. There is both a physical,
emotional, and spiritual aspect that must be considered when thinking about what it means to be
human. To me, being human means our physical bodies occupy a space and time within a certain
environment, and we interact with the environment and others that occupy the same space by
relating to our emotional and spiritual well-being.
Doornbos et al., through analyzing a nurse and patient relationship, demonstrate how, as
humans, we interact with our environment, in addition to interacting with those that occupy the
same environment. For the nurse and patient, this was the hospital room, where both acted as
though they had a responsibility towards one another. This leads to what I would argue is a
necessary aspect of both being a human and promoting human flourishing. It would be
unhealthy as a human to live without interacting with other humans or living in some sort of
community. With community, however, comes responsibility to serve a certain role within it,
whether that role is active or passive. Either way, an individual has responsibility, and cannot
avoid participating in some sort of community. Some, like hermits, have attempted to shirk their
responsibilities towards community, but that was at the detriment of their true flourishing.
When thinking about how the educated person has played a role in society and how
education effects personhood, Martin joins the dialogue. Though there were plenty of arguments
on who the educated person is, there are not many that come free of gender biases. All of them

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promote the stereotypically-male rational thinking, controlled emotions, and problem solving
ability. Not every person can be taught or defined in that way, however. So much of what makes
up the person is their ability to relate emotionally to another person. That ability has been
pegged as a female characteristic. The discussion we had in class raised several more questions
for me about this idea of gender typification. In the past, I was always one to believe in women
power, that women can do anything men can do. But now, I see that a successful woman is
successful in many ways because she denies many womanly qualities, disguising emotions to fit
in better to the male work environment. And when the woman is successful, she is applauded for
her abilities to be rational and control her emotions. A man, however, when he shows emotions is
seen as more feminine, something many consider to be a bad thing. As a culture, we have
adopted a mentality that feminine is weak, while masculinity is strong, but this black and white
scale should be more of a spectrum, that people are able to cross without being labeled too
feminine or too masculine.
I believe that education should begin looking at the whole person, emotionally, rationally,
spiritually, and physically. An educated person should be well rounded in all of these areas.

March 23, 2015


Journal 6, Nature of Persons, Part 2
As I develop some of my own ideas about the nature of being human, I find myself
continually referring back to Wolterstorffs articles on the Old and New Testament versions of
justice. In each, he contemplates whether or not humans have worth. In the end, he holds to the
conclusion that, Jesus deemed humans of worth, and therefore as we interact, our interactions
should also reflect that we believe individuals have worth. As we narrowed in the discussion
from justice to the nature of persons, I held on to that idea. Humans have worth in Gods sight,
and therefore have worth in mine.
As we approached topics of intersex and (dis)ability, I clung fast to this belief. There are
so many questions and debates surrounding both of these topics. It seems like what used to be so
black and white in my own ideas on these subjects, particularly topics of intersex, has become a
huge gray area. There are many questions and conversations happening within the church
speaking out against same-sex marriage. I still am very unsure of where I stand on this, but have
come to realize that for now, that is alright. What I do realize is that being intersex, or
identifying as gay in any sense, is not a choice. There is a biological difference, something
innate. As I, a part of the heterosexual majority, interact with individuals that identify as
LGBTQ+, I will interact with them as individuals that have worth.
As Looy & Bouma would put it, humans have a, basic need and gift for relationship
(174). This idea further emphasizes the fact that we are made in the image of God. God, the
trinitarian Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, was in existence, in relationship before the world began.
It is easy for us, as Christians, to give priority to gender of persons over the more basic need and
gift for relationship [but in doing so], we isolate not only intersected and transgendered persons,
but all of us, from possibilities for communion that extend beyond gender (174). When
opportunities for communion are not taken, human flourishing does not occur, people are
marginalized, and we do not live fully into the relationships we were created to be in.

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The same is true for those with (dis)abilities. I believe that they have so much worth in
Gods eyes. They bring a new perspective to life, and this diversity of abilities is to be celebrated
as a beautiful aspect of both the classroom and the church. I appreciate that Reid and Valle
identified three important aspects about learning disabilities: they are not objective fact, they are
societal characteristics in addition to personal characteristics, and they are not immutable (477).
There has been, over time, the rise of institutionalizing learning disabled individuals. Though we
may not like the system, necessarily, as teachers, we have the ability to bring life into the system,
and recognize the worth in each of the individuals with learning disabilities that walk through
our classroom door.
Having a learning disability or wrestling with gender identity does not make someone
any less human. There is worth in each human, each individual that lives and breaths. With God
as the master designer and creator of every individual, we should begin to celebrate the diversity
of the human species.

March 23, 2015


Journal 7, School Structure, Part 1
The school functions as a structural part of our society. Not only are they a resource for
students, providing a place for them to come and learn, but they play a major role in social
structures beyond the school, especially with the way they track and label students. As
Deschenes et al. point out, many students were bound to fail, which [is] usually predictable
based on a students social class or race (528). It seems as though a majority of schools are
functioning to serve those who give them the most support. This leaves those of lower
socioeconomic status on the margins. The labels and tracks students are placed on from as early
as kindergarten need to be restructured.
Label arent all bad. The way they are supposed to function can actually assist us. Labels
are supposed to reveal reality by helping us make sense of the world around us. Within, these
school structures, however, we see labels limiting what students can do even to the point of who
they are. In fact, the labels that educators and reformers have given to low-performing students
contain important information about educators and reformers values about success, social
diversity, and individual achievement (Deschenes et. al, 530). Chambers et al. furthers this
argument by noting that students with the most cultural capital, or those students who live into
the culture of power are the ones who are seen as academically successful (46).
The part that worries me the most about these labels and tracks, is that the teachers and
administrators are not frequently consciously aware of the schools tendency to cater almost
exclusively to students who have the most cultural capital. Problems that arise from this, such as
marginalizing those of low socioeconomic status or races of minority, are not necessarily seen as
problems by teachers or administrators, because the support they get is coming from a higher
class.
The current structure of our schools is not promoting human flourishing. We say as a
nation we want equal education for all. We say that all who attend public school are given a fair
opportunity to succeed. There is, however, this underlying mentality that screams out only those
who are in the majority will succeed. Only those we have the most cultural capital will succeed.

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Is it really promoting human flourishing if we do not celebrate the diversity in our midst by only
serving those within the culture of power. Those who come from a different racial background
are asked to deny the culture they came from in order to succeed in a new one with more power.
The schools are in a way telling some students that their culture is not worth it; their culture is
less than another; their culture is holding them back from success in life.
That is what truly saddens me. As we seek to promote justice in the schools, we should
seek to celebrate diversity of race. Both parents of lower and higher socioeconomic status want
similar things for their children, but only those with capital are able to help their dreams become
reality. How can the school serve as a liaison between these parents, seeking out what might be
best for all students, and truly desiring the success of everyone that walks through its doors?

April 6, 2015
Journal 8, School Structure, Part 2
Some facts are difficult to face, especially when the root of the problem is rooted so
deeply into the ground of education. The facts that are staring us in the face are the data
collected from schools like Ottawa Hills versus Forest Hills. The racial patterns that were
supposedly eradicated at the time of integration are still so prevalent today. Likewise, the
academic performance of the Forest Hills district greatly outshines that of the Ottawa Hills area.
Gregory et al. provides readers with countless statistics that show how this achievement gap and
the gap in discipline are related.
While reflecting upon the purpose of school, this article seemed to say that the purpose of
schools was to sort students, good from bad, to help society sort them in the future. It is a sad
fact that schools, rely heavily on exclusion from the classroom as the primary discipline
strategy (59). Maybe this does indeed have cross purposes. Maybe it is to sort the good from
the bad. From a teachers perspective, I know there are going to be students who are indeed
struggling with certain cognitive impairments or other needs that cause them to be a detriment to
the rest of the learners in the class. Looking at these statistics, however, shows that when there is
a mismatch between students and teachers cultures, or when students are asked to obey the
unspoken rules of a certain culture or class, they are more likely to be sent out of the classroom.
Removing them from the classroom might solve the classes focus problem, but it plays into a
larger problem involving the student sent away or suspended.
I feel like, as I am writing this I am talking myself in circles. In reflecting upon this and
the reasons for this that extend far beyond race, I am made aware of how deeply this is rooted in
the foundations of American education. The pictures of the factory, asylum, school, barracks and
hospital are running through my head, all serving the purpose of controlling, taming, and
organizing people. It seems to promote that, though individuals within the school might truly
want to promote learning, the underlying structure seeks to promote order.
What is the balance, then, between order and chaos? Everything in me wants to throw
away this model of schooling and start from scratch, analyzing what didnt work and working
towards something that will. But how does one convince others that the foundations of

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schooling that have been built up for centuries are not serving to promote the human flourishing
of every student and therefore must be discounted?
Seeking justice in this area would look to support students who are given an unfair
disadvantage because of the underlying social constructs that limit what schools can actually do.
When a school is seeking human flourishing for all, they are not just sending students who
misbehave out, but seeking some sort of middle ground, where the student feels validated and is
able to learn on his or her own terms. When schools stop organizing good children from bad
children and being to help students discover the potential to learn and succeed in every
individual, society as a whole will make strides towards becoming good.

April 13, 2015


Journal 9: Structural Contexts, pt 1, Out-of-School Factors
Once again, in reflecting upon the readings this week, I felt helpless. Both Noguera and
Berliner addressed some ways that school structure in itself is influence by outside factors. The
school structure has been and continues to be influenced by the neighborhoods, racial biases, and
middle-class culture that continually drives what it means to live and succeed in the United
States.
The school structure itself has been infiltrated by the need we fine to organize things and
people into categories. We group people into categories, predicting how they will succeed and
convincing them that they are worth no more than what they are classified as. Noguera raises
several thought-provoking questions, Why is it that the drive for order and safety has resulted in
the neediest and most disadvantaged students being the ones most likely to be punished? (342),
being one of them. As teachers, we sometimes give-in to these mindsets as well. Like the
principle in Nogueras article, it becomes easy for us to throw up our hands, and say, Why
bother if their path only leads to prison anyway? But that is not what we are called to do.
When I see the gap that Berliner repeatedly points out between white students and black
and hispanic students I am uncomfortable for many reasons: I am uncomfortable that race and
ethnicity has come to equal poverty in the United States; I am uncomfortable that poverty has
lead to considerably lower academic performance; I am uncomfortable that the we as a nation
have to move outside of the light of educational reform within schools, and into the dark alleyways of neighborhoods. I am uncomfortable because I know that moving into neighborhoods is
harder than staying within the confines of the school walls. I know that it must be done,
however, in order to promote and encourage complete human flourishing.
Another way for me to view my own uncomfortableness is to label it as Wolterstorff
would. This uncomfortableness is, holy dissatisfaction with the foundational structure the
school system is built upon. The holy dissatisfaction is an acknowledgement that this world is
neither just nor whole. Brokenness subsides in our nations, our governments, our states, our
neighborhoods, our schools, and our relationships.
A good society moves towards making what is broken slightly less broken. It looks at
each of its members and seeks to promote the flourishing of all. Closing the poverty gap that
directly translates into an academic achievement gap is one of the ways we can seek to promote

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human flourishing. Admittedly, I do not know what this would look like. I do not have answers
on the steps to take to go about this. All I have is a holy dissatisfaction for the way things are
and a desire to see things change.
As teachers, if we could pick up one shard of glass and fit it back into the empty window
frame what would that do?

April 13, 2015


Journal 10, Structural and Cultural Contexts, pt 2
This week I was amazed at the lingering effects decisions and policies made in the past
continue to have on neighborhoods and schools of present. Despite de-segregation efforts, cities
still made it possible to code and section people by race by zoning them according to income at a
time when the higher incomes were really only achievable to the white working man. The past
colors the present.
Zoning and housing not only affected which neighborhoods people had the ability to live
in, but also which schools students had the ability to attend. Funding for better schools and
better education naturally lied within the neighborhoods that were considered better by zoning
standards.
As I was reading these articles, I was conflicted with many different thoughts. Every part
of me wanted to pick up and move to what is considered a lower income predominately minority
neighborhood. Last year, my housemates and I were even considering a house near Franklin and
Division (on Worden), so that we could begin to break down the negative reputation the
neighborhood has by learning what it really is like to live in that neighborhood. As you can
guess, many of our parents were against this idea, because of the unsafe practices that
unfortunately do take place in the area. As white middle class college women, we would stand
out in the population of black lower income families that predominately lived in this area.
Would that be such a bad thing though? My real question is, where are the boundaries we draw
for ourselves when it comes to safety?
It is a blessing that we had the option to live elsewhere, for our parents sake, but what
about those that are forced to live in neighborhoods that are far more unsafe? What would it be
like to have no other choice but to live in the Bronx where gunshots go off every night? It seems
so unfair that those who are working hard to simply make a living for their family and drying
desperately to loose the chains of poverty that hold them, have no chance to provide their
children with the basic right of safety, because they can only afford to live in neighborhoods that
are undesirable and unsafe.
It is in these reflections that I do truly believe that some policy must be changed. Some
reform must be made that promotes human flourishing. The U.S. might be the land of
opportunity, but by no means the land of equal opportunity. With the way our neighborhoods
were zoned and set up, we cannot even provide basic safety for all our citizens.
As we seek answers and solutions to this problem of cyclical poverty, I do think that
raising the minimum wage can help with this cycle of poverty, by giving those living in poverty

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more of an opportunity to prosper and work their way out of poverty. It is not necessarily the
only solution to the problem, for there are far more factors that play into poverty that lack of
money, but it is a good place to start. Raising minimum wage has the potential to get people out
of poverty, and change the U.S. to slightly more equal opportunity. Raising minimum wage is
not a form of throwing money at the poor, and would benefit their education, allowing them to
move to better districts or give more funding to the districts they are already in.

April 27, 2015


Journal 11, Race, and Education
Race is a concept that I am still working on developing ideas to. As humans, we
appreciate categorizing objects, ideas, and even humans to help us make sense of the world.
Race is one of the ways that we categorize humans. Howard explores race and how race effects
education in his two collaborative chapter we read this week in class. Race is distinctive
physical features, often in facial structures or skin color, biologically inherited rather than
culturally formed. Race is something that is not well represented in our school structures. The
rules and manners of teaching are developed from a single majority race: white. Race is
frequently entwined with culture, so when only one race is represented in our education system,
only one majority culture is represented.
In his essay entitled, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Howard and Terry develop this
complex concept that should be applied to many classrooms. This concept moves beyond simply
incorporating a culture talk into lessons and pedagogy. It forces the teacher to become a learner
of his or her students, studying their academics, families, communities, and advocating for their
success and flourishing in all of these areas. This means, many times the teacher is branching
beyond his or her own personal race and culture to learn about another. Culturally responsive
pedagogy aims to, empower ethnically diverse students through academic success, cultural
affiliation, and personal efficacy (Howard et. al). It is crucial that teachers develop racial
awareness and use culturally responsive pedagogy.
As I was thinking about race, I was reflecting upon my previous classes. Never did I
have a teacher that was racially different from myself. Example problems were given that I
could relate to, and never thought twice of until now. Even in example problems a teacher
comes up with on the spot, are culturally and racially loaded. Teachers should be aware of their
students backgrounds so that they can relate concepts to reestablished experiences and schema
that might be related to race.
One of the sad truths Howard noted in the article was addressed at teachers expectations.
Howard noted that when the curriculum and pedagogy is not culturally relevant, students do not
necessarily relate to the topic at hand, and, therefore, do not always understand. When a teacher
notes that his or her students are not understanding, they lower their expectations for the
students success and mastery of the content. When teachers of culturally relative pedagogy
have a clear instructional focus and allow their students to see this, the students will key in to
lessons and better relate them to their lives.
In the concluding pages of the essay, Howard discusses academic rigor. In its broadest
sense, academic rigor should be the goal for all students, providing the perfecto balance of

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challenge and accomplishment that fits directly in the students zones of proximal development.
When culturally relevant pedagogy directs this focus, students become critical thinkers and
active participants in their personal education.

May 4, 2015
Journal 12, The Purpose of Schooling
What is the purpose of schooling? Is schooling a means of socialization? Is schooling
actually promoting intellectual growth? Is schooling meant to educate children about the social,
environmental and physical world they are growing up to live in? Is schooling a catalyst for
change in society or a way to promote traditional beliefs and paradigms?
These are all questions that came into my mind as I contemplated the purpose of
schooling. First, I want to differentiate schooling from educating. Schooling in my mind takes
place within a certain structure. It is the social setting of a school that people must conform to in
order to succeed academically. It is the cultural setting and beliefs that are a large part of school.
Schooling goes beyond the actual education that people are receiving within the school day. So
what is its purpose then, if not solely for educating?
I think the intended purpose of schooling is currently unideal. Though many would say
that schooling is meant to educate our children enabling them to achieve academic mile markers
and preparing them for college, I dont think school is currently doing that. Currently, I see
school becoming more of a mode of socialization.
This mode isnt necessarily all bad. In many ways, schools are responding to the needs
within their community, attempting to provide extra food or family support to those that need it
in their surrounding area. Schools in a way, especially in neighborhoods with lower
socioeconomic status, are becoming more central to the way of life of the students they serve.
Many times, though, the support schools are able to give reflect the neighborhood they
are a part of. More money is able to be donated or raised by the school if they are in
neighborhoods of higher social economic status. In this way, schooling is often unequal in the
support they provide their students. While much of the extra support of the wealthier districts go
to extra curricular activities, the poorer districts put towards getting their students to be in school
well fed. This disparity is a part of schooling, not educating.
In my opinion, schooling ought to play a role that focuses on developing the entire child.
Rather than focusing on one aspect in particular, schooling should include focus on body, mind,
and heart of a child. These three things are so interconnected that it is difficult to provide for one
when the others are failing. Schooling should include educating the mind intellectually,
providing for the body physically, and supporting the child emotionally. It should help the
students develop critical analysis of the society they live in, so they too are seeking to promote
the good of all. Critical thinkers will seek a better way for all to live and thrive.
Education in and of itself includes acknowledgment of the social structure that one is a
part of. It means knowing your students well so that you know how best to reach them, and
assist them in developing as a whole child, growing body, mind and spirit.
Humanity means that you acknowledge your brokenness, but seek to live in a way that
glorifies God and promotes the kingdom. When schooling seeks to develop these three aspects

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of a student, they are not separating the student from their social environment, but helping the
student to grow and thrive within it, and critically think of ways to seek a better future.

May 11, 2015


Journal 13: What is the Purpose of Education in Society?
Introduction- Define education
A. Thesis Statement: The purpose of education is to promote human flourishing by seeking
justice for the marginalized and extending hope to the despairing.
II. Section 1: break down of promoting human flourishing
A. The first step in promoting human flourishing is to acknowledge that it is lacking.
1. Recognizing the brokenness in human nature (concepts from journals 5&6)
2. Recognizing the brokenness in creation (concepts from journal 4)
3. Recognizing the brokenness in society (concepts from journal 9, 10)
4. Recognizing the brokenness in schools (concepts from journal 7, 8)
B. When we recognize the need, we begin to seek holistic human flourishing.
1. Holy Dissatisfaction -Wolterstorff transitions to seeking justice
III. Section 2: break down seeking justice
A. Seeking Justice goes beyond doing justice (Wolterstorff Hope article)
1. retributive vs. distributive justice
2. Seeking justice acknowledges that an injustice has been committed.
B. How does seeking justice bring reconciliation and human flourishing in education?
IV. Section 3: break down extending hope
A. Where does our hope come from?
B. How does hope effect education (Edgoose)?
C. How does instilling hope help promote human flourishing in education?
V. Conclusion: Tying it all together.
I.

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March 6, 2014
Kozol Reflection 1
Amazed. Frustrated. Saddened. Uncomfortable. Stirred. Helpless. These are all emotions
or feelings that I experienced while reading Jonathan Kozols, Ordinary Resurrections. As Kozol
describes in detail the relationships he shares with children and families living in Mott Haven, I
am reminded of the need for reconciliation in many areas of life. For the sake of this reflection, I
am going to focus on situations of Kozols novel where the need for racial reconciliation is most
evident. The first situation focuses on the social construction of race revealed in chapter 2. The
second situation is the cultural capital evident in Eleanor Jacksons conversations with Kozol.
Society groups individuals in different ways. These groups are not equal, for some have
more privileges over others. This is social construction. Now lets apply that to the social
construction of race. The South Bronx, and Mott Haven in particular, are not diverse. The
population makes up an economic and racial ghetto of a poor African American majority. Kozol
points out that, the racial mix, such as it is, among the children of Mott Haven is represented by
the presence of some twenty-six white children in a nonwhite population of 11,000 students in
the elementary schools that serve the neighborhood (31), a statistic that points to the fact that
segregation is still at large in the United States. Hispanic and black children never encounter
white children. Children in Mott Haven never encounter children of the middle class. Kozol
notes multiple times that children and adults living in Mott Haven are well aware of these social
constructions of race, and are completely helpless to do anything about them. Many experience
a sad resignation to the way things are, rather then fighting the hard, seemingly fruitless fight for
the way things ought to be.
On such resident of Mott Haven that Kozol interacted with, Eleanor Jackson, is a prime
example not only o the social constructions of race, but also the cultural capital. Though the
schools in the South Bronx are public, they are not by any means equal opportunity to school
located in more affluent neighborhoods of New York City. Eleanor Jackson seemed to fixed on
the idea that her daughter should have gone to Brown University, and one of the main reasons
she didnt was because she lived in South Bronx. Kozol points out that only the small two year
or technical colleges are ever mentioned, for no one can set their hope much beyond that.
Schools in poor, predominately nonwhite populations tend to have a cultural stigma that says the
students that come out of them are underprepared for going to a four year university.
There is a cycle of poverty that tends to be reinforced by those who hold the power.
Sadly, we have lived into the social construction of race, solidifying it through the cultural
capital, social capital, and other means. As part of the majority, this fact makes me
uncomfortable. The brokenness of this world and the seemingly unbreakable cycle stirs me into
holy dissatisfaction. At times I know I will feel helpless in working towards justice, but in the
end, it is the continual striving for justice that matters.

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April 10, 2015
Kozol Reflection 2
As I reflected upon the tendency we have to interpret racial and cultural differences as
deficits, I began to recollect the many vignettes Kozol shared. These stories Kozol, stories are
full of raw struggles but never devoid of hope. Much like these stories, I know based on multiple
cross-cultural experiences that any circumstance where multiple races and cultures come
together may involve raw struggle, but will never be devoid of hope.
One of the most vivid images Kozol painted of this, in my opinion, was the day in the
sanctuary. Whether it was through Stephanie and Lucias interpretation of Gods forgiving
nature, or Shentashas interpretation of God being a task master, or Kozols difficulty to answer
the children when asked to pray, culture played a role in how each of them viewed God. Yet,
even though their differences were discussed in the sanctuary, when the students and Kozol
returned to the after school, the children seem[ed] to bring the stillness of the sanctuary with
them (129). They discussed their ideas, they defended their beliefs, but in the end, they were
united in an air of peace. Whenever cultures collide, there is going to be some sort of struggle,
but this should not be viewed as a negative thing. Rather, when individuals come together in the
act of learning about and celebrating their differing cultures, the stillness of the sanctuary affect
can be brought into their daily lives.
In EDUC 322, I worked one-on-one with a first grade student, well call him Angelo, who
struggled in his reading. Spanish was still spoken within Angelos home, so reading in a second
language proved even more difficult to him. Beyond just teaching him reading, Angelo taught
me a great deal about his cultural background. He shared his excitement about how his brother
was a great boxer, and won quite a few matches, and how he wanted to box someday. I
remember, when he first shared, I was apprehensive about the violence that was being condoned
and celebrated in his family. I quickly had to stop myself from jumping to the conclusion that
Angelo would react violently in situations outside the boxing ring. I had to remind myself that,
just because boxing was not celebrated in my home culture as it is in the Latino culture does not
mean it is bad.
Many times, the reason for people seeing cultural differences as deficits is grounded upon
a fear for what is different than the viewpoints we hold so dearly. When Kozol interacts with
Stephanies teacher, for example, the responses he gets are reluctant and cold. Later, Kozol
learns that she grew up in the neighborhood. He suspects that she was defensive of the
neighborhood and the culture in which she was raised. (183)
With my field experience, I hope I echo Kozol in saying, I hope I dont lose sight of [the]
distinction, which is easy forgotten when we make these periodic visits and imagine that we
understand the situation in a classroom far more quickly than we do (182). I dont want to take
the culture of my student as something deficit, making generalizations about the limited
experiences I had with one particular student. Rather, I want to approach the struggle between
cultures in a way that promotes learning from each other to reach a point of peace and shared
hope.

May 1, 2015

Veenstra 30
Kozol Reflection 3
In many ways, I think the background that I come from is similar to Kozols upbringing.
Even though I am not Jewish, I am a part of the white majority. In many respects, Kozols
writing often highlights the disconnect that is so prevalent when different socio-economic
backgrounds collide. Several times he mentioned the different times when people from outside
the neighborhood came in to visit with the students in the South Bronx. Even these people had
very different responses to what they were seeing. Mr. Rogers seemed to truly care about the
children and the children accepted and loved him. On the other end of the spectrum, you have
the visitors who make comments of disbelief outside of housing complexes that are run down yet
still lived in when the key must be thrown down from the window to get in. People that come in
and arent regulars are not often received with as much love and attention as people who are
known to stay.
Up until this year, I had lived in predominately white middle class neighborhoods. I
remember the first time that homelessness became real to me was in fourth grade. My dads
parents were foster parents for quite some time. One of their foster kids was named JJ. Years
later, my dad was continuing his ministry as a youth pastor in Des Moines, Iowa. As he was
helping with a street ministry, he ran into JJ who was now homeless, and took him home to try to
help him back on his feet. There were many things in JJs life that had led to his eventual
homelessness, but as a fourth grader, I didnt truly understand what those were. I was both
curious and saddened that anyone would be without a home.
Though this attests to my idea of economic membership, I unfortunately didnt start
realizing my racial membership until I was in college. After seventh grade, we moved to a small
northern town with a total of two African-American families (one of which moved since we were
there), and a growing number of migrant hispanic workers that worked on the larger dairy farms.
Looking back on it, the town was extremely racist, without even knowing it.
Even on Calvin campus, I often feel as though I am living in a ghetto of white middle
class Americans. I have grown a lot this year living in an area of town that isnt all white. Our
neighbors to the left are multiracial. The neighbor we talk the most with on the right is an
African American single grandma who takes care of her grandchildren about every other day. It
is so fun to have conversations with them, because, even if they are a different culture and racial
background, they trust us and love it when we ask about their day.
Often, when I am talking with these neighborhood kids, I think of Kozol and his
experiences at Mott Haven. I am proudly, one hundred percent dutch (well, the Freisian in me
would say 75% Freisian and 25% Dutch). Both sets of grandparents are first generation
immigrants and speak fluent dutch still. Coming to western Michigan was very safe for me, but
in many way it opened my eyes to the beauty that diversity can bring. I never would have
guessed that I would live in a predominately minority populated neighborhood, but I have found
so much joy and beauty in it that I would consider looking for my next home in an area of the
same racial make up. Never should we see race as something to divide us.