Work while you work; play while you play.

That is the way to be cheerful all day.

All that you do, do with your might.

Things done by halves are never done right.

One thing each time and that done well,

is a very good rule as many can tell.

Moments are useless trifled away; so

work while you work and play while you play.

            ~M.A. Stodart

Why expect so much from students?

Why apply more stress to already stressed out kids?

I’ve been an educator since the late 70’s and have witnessed a slow but steady decline since then in what is expected from students.  At the same time I have discovered that often the most stressed out kids are actually those who lack the ability to apply themselves wholeheartedly to anything but entertainment.  These are the kids that want to both play while they play and play while they “work”.
While today’s educational culture supports the ideal of a strong work ethic, this ideal can merely be a stated aim but not necessarily one that is carried out.  To walk it out can at times feel like swimming upstream against the current.

It’s hard work to expect kids to work hard!

The fourth commandment to “observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy”  is followed by the often omitted words six days you shall labor and do all your work.”  Laziness is so easily confused with peace.  Yet kids won’t find freedom from stress  if they aren’t struggling to work as well. WIthout experiencing toil and labor, true rest is illusive.
I am reminded of the words of a private school administrator, who a few years ago had grown disillusioned with the outcomes he was seeing in education.  “I am deeply disappointed in our seniors,” he lamented “instead of the virtuous, knowledgeable men and women  that I had envisioned them becoming, they are weak spirited and self seeking.”

My experience has fortunately been different.

This past week, I had the privilege of watching our seniors present their thesis, each speaking on a current issue they are passionate about.  I was touched the poise they demonstrated as they stood up in front of a crowd and gave a  20-minute fully memorized presentation, followed by 20 minutes of difficult questioning by a knowledgeable panel in their field of study.  Clearly they had put in hours of hard work to get to this point. Some were students who just a few years ago would have left our school rather than participate in the senior thesis.  Others could not imagine successfully completing the task without falling apart. Instead they stood one by one:  professional, calm, convincing.  They were prepared.  They had done their work.  They were ready.
What blessed me even more was watching what occurred prior to each presentation; with hands joined together the students would circle around the next speaker and pray in unison for him or her.  Our seniors have learned to work together, weep together, laugh together, pray together, play together.  I asked one girl how she steadied herself after a brief period of faltering in the middle of her presentation.  She explained how she felt God strengthen her as she silently remembered the prayers of her friends.
Having worked with many of these students for many years, I am pleased with who they are becoming.  They are growing confident in their skills and abilities; they are growing secure in their individual identities in Christ. They know how to work hard and to play hard. This is the legacy they leave behind and that will propel them successfully forward into the world beyond high school.

They are the 2013 class of Veritas Academy and we proudly send them out!

For more on this topic listen to the podcast “Heartily: Christ Centered Work” by Peter Dusan