One hundred twenty-eight years ago, the United States Congress officially recognized the social and economic impact of American workers by, ironically, giving them a day off. Since that time, the first Monday in September has been a federal holiday often celebrated with parades, fireworks, and backyard barbecues. Acting as the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day might also represent the end of lazy summer living and the start of the demands of a new school year. Yet for the thoughtful Christian, even a secular holiday such as Labor Day should be cause for contemplation.
Graduation is such a special time in the life of young adults. In the present age, it has become arguably the most important rite of passage into adulthood. Eighteen-year-olds across the nation stand on a threshold: thirteen or more years of compulsory schooling is behind them, and the whole world lies ahead. Education, career, marriage, everything is ahead of them, and finally, they get to make their own decisions about where to go and what to do.
Trinitas has a long and tasty history with barbecue. You might even say it's an integral part of a Trinitas education! Back in the early days of the school, our founding headmaster’s father, Grampa Trotter, used his meat-smoking prowess to bring school families together for picnics and community-building events. Even Grandma Trotter pitched in with her famously delicious, but always secret sauce. Although the Trotter family has all passed on from our school, the tradition of sharing good barbecue with friends and family still remains, particularly in connection to the annual Trinitas Junior/Senior Aesthetics trip.
What possible connection could there be between an ancient Greek teaching method, learning experienced shared by Trinitas students, and how intentional parents can train thoughtful children?
First the answer to the question and then an explanation. The connection is this: the pursuit and apprehension of Truth.
Rather than a random group of dots, the various facets of education should connect like a column of ants traversing a picnic blanket. Last Friday, I had the privilege of watching junior kindergartners retelling four classic fairytales using student narration and finger puppets. Later that evening, I listened to three students present and defend their senior thesis projects. Contemplating these examples drawn from the beginning and end of a Trinitas education is worthwhile for thoughtful parents serious about the kind of education they want for their children.
Generational faithfulness is a recurring discussion in the Trinitas community. Even while being considered for admission, prospective parents are asked to describe the fundamental beliefs and practices that form the primary foundation for their child’s faith formation. Continuity between how parents order their own lives and the expectations they hold for their children is essential. One generation’s faithfulness before God forms an avenue of blessing for succeeding generations.
Is there anything a 19th century Anglican Bishop can teach modern Christian parents about training their children? In short, absolutely! As Trinitas parents gather this week for the first Parent Traditio of the new year, they will be discussing a short essay written by J. C. Ryle entitled The Duties of Parents. In it, Bishop Ryle shares seventeen specific directives for Christian parenting that are gospel-centered and rooted in common sense while also practical and encouraging.
Yesterday, the Trinitas Board of Governors spent the entire day engaged in a continuous improvement discussion which resulted in an update to the school’s five-year strategic plan. Revisiting this process and document regularly helps the board ensure that the school is not only staying faithful to its founding mission and vision but is also thriving while improving in the execution of the same.
As valuable as that process is for organizations, it is equally important for parents to honestly assess where their family is in relation to the high calling placed upon Christian parents and to thoughtfully craft their own “strategic plan.”