Meet TfT


In this issue of the CEJ, you’ll be introduced to Teaching for Transformation (TfT), a framework for the development of authentic and integral Christian learning experiences that are grounded in a transformational worldview with a focus on seeing and living out God’s story. In his book Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith offers this challenge: “The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people—a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their vocations as an expression of that desire” (34). TfT embraces the idea of “the formation of a peculiar people” and provides practices that equip teachers to invite every student to explore his or her role in the kingdom, to nurture every student to desire to be a peculiar person, and to empower every student to practice his or her life’s expression.

Three core practices provide the framework for TfT.
1. Storyline: TfT is rooted in the belief that every unit and every learning experience tells a story. TfT invites students and teachers to imagine their places in God’s story by connecting each unit with opportunities to tangibly practice living in the grand narrative. Each student and teacher will begin to create a personal storyline and articulate how they see themselves living in God’s epic drama.

2. Biblical throughlines: TfT has identified ten biblical throughlines to help us imagine who we are as peculiar people. When schools invite students to actively contribute to the formation of Christian culture, we need to challenge them to develop kingdom-building characteristics. These biblical characteristics help us all, teachers and students, to understand our roles and our calling. Throughlines shift the focus of learning away from what the student needs to know to who the student is called to be.

3. Formational learning experiences: As the name suggests, formational learning experiences are designed to form the students’ hearts and actions as well as their minds, equipping them to become people who live and breathe God’s story. Every Christian school classroom must provide authentic opportunities for students to practice living the kingdom story. This practice becomes a habit, shaping who we are.

Our deep hope is that the stories of these TfT elementary, middle, and secondary school classrooms will ignite in our readers a desire to embrace the task of shaping peculiar students—ones who See the Story and Live the Story.

Interested in learning more about TfT? Please contact Darryl DeBoer at or Timothy Van Soelen at

Pat Kornelis is a professor of education at Dordt College, teaching graduate courses in teacher leadership, assessment practices, and advanced educational psychology. She also serves as a CACE fellow and school designer for TfT.