During the past few weeks, I have been highlighting some reasons families have left Trinitas, which seems like a dangerous undertaking. I’m not trying to scare people away, of course. My reason for doing this short series is that I want to communicate who Trinitas is to families who want the sort of education we’re offering. One way to do that is by thrusting into the spotlight some of the school’s characteristics that have been breaking points for families in the past. This is the last installment.
#4 The work at Trinitas is too hard and too much for my child!
Well, yes, we do work awfully hard at Trinitas. The academic program here is rigorous, and it requires a lot of hard work to excel at Trinitas, even for those who are gifted academically. That hard work is not an easy sell, and some families do end up leaving because they simply cannot see the benefit of the work. A couple of questions come to mind right away for those who see hard work as a breaking point: What is the standard the Trinitas workload is being compared to? What is your vision for your child?
Maybe the workload at Trinitas is heavy, but by what standard of comparison? When parents question the difficulty and amount of work, they often say something along the lines of, “I don’t want him or her to miss out on childhood by working all the time.” I agree completely, but whose definition of childhood are we using? God said, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20: 9-10). I don’t think that Commandment excludes children, so it seems that we can expect childhood to include some kind of work. To my knowledge, the Bible does not present a plan for a childhood with no work.
When we look for a Christian standard for workload, that Commandment seems like a good starting place. So if we compare the Trinitas workload to that standard, how do we stack up? I think we’re in the ballpark, especially in the upper grades where students work hard most days, often including a day of the weekend. At the very least, they find at the end of the week that they have worked so hard at school some of their home chores have been put off to the weekend—so they usually get in six days of some kind of work making for a well deserved, sweet Sabbath.
If, however, we compare our workload to other schools in the area, the Trinitas workload is probably on the high side. Trinitas students may some days still be working on Latin at the kitchen table while the neighborhood children are already working on the latest skateboard trick in the cul-de-sac. Our perception of how often we work and how much we work is formed by which standard we use for comparison.
Not everyone has the natural ability to be a straight A student. Some Trinitas students work extra hard just to advance to the next grade level and never get close to winning any academic accolades. Is that work wasted? It depends on your long range vision for your child. What do you want him or her to become? Hard work in the right context builds a wonderful work ethic in students. Think about your own life and what is required of you as a parent and provider. Your work is hard and may even seem unending. You don’t get a pass; you can’t call in sick as a parent; you’re on the job 24/7. God willing, your child will be a parent someday too. What kind of parent do you want him or her to be? What kind of husband or wife do you want him or her to be, respectively? A familiarity and even comfort with suitable hard work as a child will better equip him or her for adulthood than will a childhood full of unearned rest. So knowing what kind of man or woman you are raising for the Kingdom helps you put the hard work he or she is doing now into perspective. Today is practice for tomorrow. Demanding work now during these formative years, when approached with the right attitude, equips students to become effective citizens in the kingdom of God someday soon.
Still, there are limits. Do Trinitas students work harder than most other students? Yes. But we don’t want to break them either; that would defeat the purpose. Faculty and administration are constantly meeting to discuss workload, sometimes in response to student or parent concerns, but most often in response to what we have identified just by polling our students and gauging their well being. We want the hard work at Trinitas to shape them positively, not make them bitter. Part of that is on us in our making sure not to overload, and part of it is on students and parents in their forming how they think about work. Remember those two questions I raised earlier: What is the standard the Trinitas workload is being compared to? What is your vision for your child?
Yes, we work hard at Trinitas, and no, every student doesn’t get A’s just because they work hard. But when we compare our workload to the right standard and not just to the kid down the street who goes to a different school, we may find the Trinitas workload close to right. Furthermore, when we focus on our vision for the kind of men and women we are forging for the Kingdom and not on the instant gratification available in a childhood full of unearned rest, we hope you agree that the workload at Trinitas helps to lay a foundational work ethic that seeks to honor God in the lives of our students, both today and for the future.