Beauty From Shards

Kintsugi is a Japanese form of art that takes broken and potentially discarded items and repairs them. The word Kintsugi, in Japanese means “re-joining”. The artist celebrates and highlights the brokenness being remade into wholeness. Rather than trying to hide the imperfections of the broken plate or bowl, the artist fills the cracks with gold in order to fuse the pieces together. The precious metal, gold, welds the broken shards back together and create something beautiful. The kintsugi method conveys a philosophy of awe, reverence, and restoration rather than that of abandonment or replacement. The gold-filled cracks of a once-broken item are a testament to its history and the journey the object took. It is intended to embrace the history instead of discarding it.

VaseShardsDo not confuse excellence with perfection as it is easy to achieve excellence. Excellence paves the way for improvement, while perfection paves the way for stagnation, limiting one’s creativity and innovation. People often fail to deliver goods when emphasis is laid on perfection. However, excellence tolerates mistakes and failures, thus allowing people to explore and experiment, and, in turn, paving the way for excellence. Excellence is feasible and possible, while perfection is a fantasy and often difficult to attain. Excellence is pleasure, while perfection is pressure. Perfection is impossible except in scientific laboratory experiments and mathematical applications. Most of the time, emphasizing perfection rather than excellence acts as an obstacle to progress. Perfection is never achieved. Perfection does not allow for learning from mistakes.

Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Excellence is about being the best, striving to be better, with an eye to delivering quality goods and services. People are not born with excellence. They cultivate it over a period of time through hard work, wise work, and smart work. It emerges from continuous improvement over the past. It is a corollary of passion and performance.

Excellence differentiates extraordinary people from ordinary people. We understand that those who strive for excellence will have longevity in their endeavors. When you benchmark against other achievers, you tend to improve and grow. We want to continue to grow into something extraordinary that God can use for his glory. It is like the kitsuguri artist that takes shards of pottery and makes something beautiful that shows the history of the item. God takes the shards of our human imperfect efforts and does something extraordinary with it. Thus, we believe only excellence can be achieved if it demonstrates that God has artistically pulled it all together as only He can do.
In our pursuit of excellence, Salem Christian School endeavors to cultivate a mindset that achieving excellence is a journey, not a destination. Albeit, the journey is only possible because of God, there are a few things that we have been emphasizing in our constant improvement in pursuit of excellence.
We are passionate: When you do what you love, you don’t feel that you are working any more, as you derive pleasure from it. Hence, we are passionate about teaching a curriculum.

We read and learn: A hallmark of excellence that there is a habit of reading good books and upgrading your knowledge constantly. This is why we spend a significant amount of time in professional development. Continuous learning makes more learned and more effective teachers. We are committed to never becoming complacent with our existing knowledge. As a faculty, we are reading good books that enrich us with the latest knowledge from multiple perspectives. These books provide diversified knowledge, information, and ideas that you can choose and that can help you grow. Constant learning is a boon. Reading good books by great authors will inspire you. If possible, note key points for future reference. Sometimes people think they know everything. There is always something that can be learned from each book, provided you have an open mind to learn and grow. In addition, different authors present content from different perspectives, thus enriching your knowledge.

We encourage feedback: Continuous feedback is essential for excellence. The feedback helps us to know our weaknesses so we can work toward improvement. In fact, continuous improvement paves the way for excellence.

Manage constraints and embrace the pitfalls: There are always constraints and obstacles in the path to achieving excellence. Some of these are internally created by human errors, and many are externally created by forces beyond human control. Hence, we need to learn to manage both external and internal forces and factors that prevent us from achieving excellence. When things are broken, we learn from it and use it to make it more beautiful and better than it was.

The beautiful thing that God does with each of us as individuals and collectively as members of Salem Christian School is that he takes the pieces that he gives us and makes something extraordinary from it. Each time he fuses our effort shards together with his supernatural golden epoxy. We want the world to see the beauty that God has done with the reading, professional development, feedback, and every other effort we do.

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Styles of Learning

How often have you heard yourself saying to your children: “How many times do I have to tell you this?” or “What did I just say? Didn’t you hear what I just said?” The fact is, they probably did hear the words you said but didn’t understand what you meant or didn’t internalize the content enough to make a change.
We cannot forget that each of us takes in information in a different way. In the world of teaching there is an understanding that humans have different learning styles. Thus, if we expect someone to learn something; rather, change in a sense, then we need to teach them in the way they understand.
Cynthia Tobias in the book The Way They Learn expounds upon Gregroc’s Mind Style Models. According to the theory presented there are two views of our minds’ processing and learning information. The first is how we perceive information and the second is how we order information.
Perception: The Way We Take In Information
We know people are not all alike. What we don’t always realize is that each of us tends to view the world in a way that makes the most sense to us as individuals. The way in which we view the world is called our perception. Perceptions shape what we think, how we make decisions, and how we define what’s important to us. Our individual perceptions also determine our natural learning strengths, or learning styles. (p.10, Tobias, 1994)
Ordering: Using What We Know Ordering
The Way We Use the Information We Perceive Once we’ve taken the information in, we all use two methods of ordering what we know. According to Gregorc, the two ordering abilities are either sequentially and randomly. (p.12 Tobias, 1994)
When we take all of Gregorc’s definitions and put them together, we get four combinations of the perceptual and ordering abilities that people have. Remember, no individual is only one style. It is important to understand that each of us has a dominant style or styles that give us a unique blend of natural strengths and abilities. As a follower of Christi, I would also contend that we are also given spiritual gifting that aids our natural ability to ensure that we can do our job of sharing the gospel.
Learning styles are derived from from the perception and ordering abilities as described by Gregorc.
The image above demonstrates these four learning styles. By learning some of the common characteristics of each of these combinations (CS, AS, AR, CR), we can recognize and better help the student flourish in the classroom and at home. As the learner, we can also learn to identify and improve characteristics that we avoid because we do not understand them well. Isn’t it better to understand the way God has designed us to perceive, order, and learn? There are sites and links that can help you determine your bent.


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Multiple Intelligences

In order to be a better teacher, the teacher needs to understand the student(s) better. Differentiated instruction, teaching and learning that is different for each student, is a lofty goal that is important if it is truly believed that every student learns.

Many parents and educators have had the experience of not being able to reach some students until presenting the information in a completely different way or providing new options for the student to express it. Have you ever seen a child who struggled with writing until they were provided the option to create a graphic story, which blossomed into a beautiful and complex narrative? Or maybe you have seen a student who just couldn’t seem to grasp fractions, until he created them by separating pizza into slices.

Because of these kinds of experiences, the theory of multiple intelligences resonates with many educators. This theory supports what we all know to be true: A one-size-fits-all approach to education will invariably leave some students behind. God has designed each of us with our own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Multiple intellegences are not to be confused with learning styles or applying the theory in ways that can limit a student’s potential. Not only does the theory of multiple intelligences make sense, it’s also important to understand the research that supports it.

Howard Gardner’s Eight Intelligences:

The theory of multiple intelligences challenges the idea of a single IQ, where human beings have one central “computer” where intelligence is housed. Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who originally proposed the theory, says that there are multiple types of human intelligence, each representing different ways of processing information:

gardners theoryVerbal-linguistic intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to analyze information and produce work that involves oral and written language, such as speeches, books, and emails.

Logical-mathematical intelligence describes the ability to develop equations and proofs, make calculations, and solve abstract problems.

Visual-spatial intelligence allows people to comprehend maps and other types of graphical information.

Musical intelligence enables individuals to produce and make meaning of different types of sound.

Naturalistic intelligence refers to the ability to identify and distinguish among different types of plants, animals, and weather formations found in the natural world.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails using one’s own body to create products or solve problems.

Interpersonal intelligence reflects an ability to recognize and understand other people’s moods, desires, motivations, and intentions.

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to people’s ability to recognize and assess those same characteristics within themselves.

Some Christian theorists have even floated the idea of a spiritual intelligence. They propose that God has designed some of us (provided spiritual gifting perhaps) to understand the biblical world and God’s revelation. According to Stephen Covey, “Spiritual intelligence is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences, because it becomes the source of guidance for the others.”

Howard Gardner recognized the spiritual intelligence; but, rejected it because he could not ft it into his worldview. He was unwilling to find a way to scientifically prove this. Additionally, he claimed it was not existential enough.

However, as a Christian educator in a Christian education system, I must recognize that there is a spiritual factor to each of us. Thus, I contend that we can determine this intelligence. However, we need to consider how we transform our minds into the likeness of Christ. Does this indeed change the way we process information?

One thing to remember is that the intelligences are a way that an individual predominately processes information. This does not mean that the individual does not have intelligence or an ability to process in the other areas. The theory just considers that we are complex and that we each have different strengths in processing.

Over the next few weeks I plan on exploring teaching and learning theories. Hopefully, you will find these theories as interesting as I do. In the future, I may be bold and suggest things that parents and teachers can do to help a child understand deeper.

Here is a link to an online assessment: Multiple Intelligences Self-Assessment

Please give me feedback or questions. I would love to hear from you.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” James 3:13 (NIV)


Covey, S. R. (2005). The 8th habit: from effectiveness to greatness. New York: Free Press.
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

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