What is of greater value in education: rigor or vigor?

When one thinks of rigorous education we normally think in terms of difficulty. As Christians, we believe in the sovereignty of a good God who ordains struggle in His children’s lives in order to facilitate growth. This thinking is biblical and explained more than once throughout Scripture. Struggle is good, hard is not to be avoided but to be leaned into and it is good to do hard things. This understanding coupled with the reality of a culture that is seeking to remove as many challenges as possible in order to provide as much comfort to the children as possible, can often tempt us as Christians to make things hard for the sake of being hard or rigorous for the sake of being rigorous. Something we tend to forget is our sovereign God is also the all-knowing and good God who knows just what and how much we need to cause the growth necessary for His glory. So, then it may be more accurate to say appropriate and intentional challenges equal good. And even this must still require some wooing of the child to willingly engage in that pursuit. Therefore, we at PPA are not striving for a rigorous education but rather a vigorous education for your students. We want to provide students with a knowledge and skill in communication and thinking with an education that is full of life, love, and intentionality.  

A vigorous education is a life-giving education. A distinction of a life giving education is the ability to appreciate the good, true, and beautiful. Appreciation comes through learning to distinguish what is good from what is evil and learning to long for that good. Imagine an education then that teaches to appreciate what deserves to be appreciated. Appreciating what is good is a distinction of maturity. 

Vigorous education also implies intentionality. This intentionality requires a robust education where every lesson drawn up and instructed is done so with as much skill and intentionality as a master sculptor exercising a chisel on a beautiful block of marble. Would Michaelangelo have carelessly or mindlessly swung a hammer in the direction of a ¾ completed Pieta? Absolutely not. Are we not sculpting something of so much more value here? This is not a soulless block of marble, but a living and walking image of God. So how much more tender and intentional must we be. 

Finally, vigor in our education requires love. And not the love our world has to offer, but the love that we have been shown in Christ. This love requires effort, deference, and sacrifice. As a Christian school, a vigorous education should have lovers of God who are serving as guides to point your students to what is actually good, true, and beautiful. Therefore, the education continues out of the books, the lecture, and it continues to the lunchroom, the playground, the email, and the field trip. We cannot do this without the love of God and we cannot do this if we are not modeling the love of God.  

A vigor driven education over a rigor driven education is one step closer to producing a man or woman with Christlike character, having been equipped with the abilities to learn, think, and communicate with the purpose to bring their God the glory He deserves. 

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