People come and people go. That is a truth in any community. It is human nature, I suppose to some extent, for people to get interested in a thing, even convinced about a thing, then lose interest or become unconvinced over time. Maybe we just have a short (and shortening) attention span. Because it is enrollment season, though, and families are deciding whether or not their children ought to attend Trinitas next year, I am spending the next few weeks focusing on some of the top reasons people give for losing interest in and leaving Trinitas. This is the second of four such installments, and I hope you find it helpful if you are trying to make an enrollment decision.
#1 The standards are too high!
#2 Trinitas is weak on math!
The perception in our community is that because we spend so much time at Trinitas reading old texts, learning classical languages, and giving speeches and recitations that we must be weak on math. Comparatively speaking, Trinitas does not put nearly as much emphasis on math as other kinds of schools in our area; therefore, Trinitas must be weak on math, right? There is a fine Greek word for responding to those accusations: BALONEY!
I have written extensively about how Trinitas math scores compare to other schools’ scores, so I will only sum it up briefly here. Our students outperform every kind of school group in the country on math. That is not to say that there aren’t particular schools or student groups within schools that score better, but when compared to all public schools, all independent schools, all religious schools, and even all other ACCS affiliated schools, our students outperform every group in math on the SAT.
The perception that things are otherwise comes in part because the rest of the educational world has focused on math at the expense of other subjects. They have put all their eggs in the math basket in an attempt to prepare every student for a career in engineering while leaving other important material underemphasized. At Trinitas, we give math its due, but no more, and so far that has been enough to properly prepare our students for the next step in almost every case.
For students who are planning for a career in engineering, the going will be tough no matter what high school they attend. Engineering is one of the most competitive fields right now, and high math is hard brain work for most people. Good engineering schools will expect their freshmen to take their Calculus class even if they took it in high school and made a perfect score on the AP exam—that’s just the way it is. The first year of those programs is used to weed out the less committed students, and quite frankly, this is where the classically educated student will outperform his peers—especially those who attended a school that specialized in Math.
“How can this be?” you may ask. Liberal, classical education is the answer. The nature of classical education is to teach students how to think and how to learn. The process itself, you see, is as important as the subject material. So a student coming from a high school where math has been the main focus of his education may breeze through the first couple of math courses in an engineering program, but over time the student who has learned how to think and how to learn for himself will catch up with and surpass him because he is undaunted by new educational challenges. He knows how to approach even new subjects, break them down, and learn them. He knows how to put new knowledge in its place, in its proper context, alongside everything else he has learned. He has the advantage.
No, Trinitas does not elevate math to a position above other subjects as much of the educational world has begun to do. We study math alongside other important material as being of equal importance. But our SAT scores show that, comparatively speaking, we are strong on math—stronger than any other groups of schools. And what’s even better is that we haven’t specialized in one thing but are just as strong on other subjects.