One of the distinctions of Agape Christi Academy is education that challenges students to work hard.
Our mission states:
We equip students with… A rigorous education that enables students to be effective in every good work to which God calls them. We challenge students to work hard in the pursuit of academic excellence without treating it as an idol. While we anticipate our graduates will be amply prepared to succeed in college and beyond, we exhort them to view education humbly as a gift from God for the primary purposes of worshipping and serving Him more.
When most people think of school, “fun” is sadly not the first word that comes to mind. Yet, our word school comes from the Greek word schole, which means “leisure.” In ancient Greek culture, it specifically referred to leisure time set apart for oneself to seek wisdom and the meaning of life.
At Agape Christi, rigorous academics refers to teaching the essential skills needed for applying truth, specifically: reading; writing; math computation; ordering information for truth, strength, and validity; and the five canons of rhetoric (which are invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery). In contrast, rigorous academics does not refer to a meaningless and unbearable load of work. It must have purpose.
What Is the Purpose of Education?
Why do we send our kids to school? The popular answers of to get a good job or to be an exemplary citizen fall short of the biblical purpose for education. To phrase the question a different way, why do we educate our children? We educate our children because God says, numerous times, to do so. We know from experience that when God says to do something it is for our good and His glory. Furthermore, we understand from the scriptures that our children are really God’s children on loan to us, the parents. To whom much is given, much is required.
What kind of education does God, the ruler of all, require for his children? Well, if you were a king what kind of education would you want for your young prince? A royal education. As Jesus has “made us kings and priests unto God and his Father,” (Revelation 1:6) our children in Christ are royalty, and so their training should reflect that. They should have the best education possible. It should be intentional and rigorous. Most importantly, it should be life-giving. The young prince, after all, will lead a kingdom. The quality of his education will greatly impact not only his own life, but the masses as well. His education must be rigorous because lives are at stake. At the same time, at any given point of his development, the education cannot be so rigorous that it kills the prince in the process. That would be a rather ironic tragedy.
God tells us that He remembers our frame, that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14). So as parents and teachers, we must imitate our gracious Father and not the Pharaoh who demanded the impossible. We firmly believe that children should have adequate rest and family time. A young lady holed up in her room doing homework all evening will actually do more harm than good to her holistic education. A Christian education is not just about having a love for books, but learning how to love flesh and blood people.
Homework Times Per Grade
Practically speaking, we feel a good guideline of homework times for families and teachers equates to 10 minutes multiplied by the grade level of the students. This means that by 12th grade, young men and women are accustomed to working an eight-hour day in preparation for adult life. Additionally, homework is generally not given over the weekend or on holidays.
The Pinocchio Syndrome
Returning to our royal education analogy, what if the prince doesn’t want to be a king? What if the prince is actually more of a puppet named Pinocchio who doesn’t want to go to school or work hard? What if he has no desire to be a servant of God? Sadly, the sinful condition of man affects even children. Proverbs 21:25 says, “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” Laziness is folly and folly is bound up in the heart of the child. The biblical solution given is, “the rod of discipline” (Proverbs 22:15). There are times when children simply do not want to work. Parents must discern if this is the case and apply discipline accordingly in order to save their souls from death.
A Student Will Be Like His Teacher
The last statement to make on the topic of rigorous academics is aimed towards the adults in charge of overseeing the education of children: parents, teachers, school administrators, and pastors. We must set the example of joyful hard work for our children. It is hypocritical to demand from our children what we are not willing to do ourselves. If we aren’t living a life of learning for the glory of God, why should they?
Like any new skill, mastering the tools of learning is challenging. But with a focus on the proper goal, academic study can again be thought of as leisure.