The inimitable Bill Watterson places wise words in the mouth of Mrs. Wormwood, Calvin’s teacher. “What you get out of school depends on what you put into it.” This is to say that the wise and diligent student is rewarded, both while he is receiving his education and beyond as well.
The Bible commends hard work by promising great reward for the diligent. “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov 10:4). The Bible also exhorts us to diligence. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). The motive for our hard work is to be the glory of God in Christ. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:17).
But the Bible acknowledges a strange paradox: the lazy person is the hardest working person of all. “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Proverbs 12:24). The man who works the hardest – is “put to forced labor” – is the man who has the least motivation and diligence. Because he refuses to work hard on his own, he ends up working hard as another man’s slave.
The applications to education here are important. Education, properly understood, is freeing (hence the designation “liberal” in liberal arts, derived from the Latin word for “free”). Ultimately, of course, liberal arts education frees us from that most vexing of masters – our own worst nature. Education is fitting for free men and women, not for slaves. The hard work and diligence that must accompany study is for the purpose of the freedom that learned people enjoy – freedom of mind and spirit and also freedom from the drudgery of manual labor.
But there is a practical application here as well. C.S. Lewis captures it wonderfully in Mere Christianity:
Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works the hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two students, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take the trouble will try to understand it. The lazy student will learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for the exam, that lazy student is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other student understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run.
All of this is to say that Providence Classical Christian School is a place that seeks to honor the biblical principles of diligence and hard work. Look in a classroom, and you’ll see students working industriously, with diligence as the norm. We don’t want to seek to be rigorous merely for rigor’s sake. However, rigor is a nursery for the growth of diligence, grit, and drive. Those are virtues we want to nurture in our children. Lord willing, the result will be that learning is freeing and those who are being taught to learn are being prepared for a lifetime of ruling rather than being ruled.
Hard work will then be its own reward.