The Less is More Principle for Schools

or Knowing When to Say When:
A Critique of Christian School Administrators and Parents

Having been involved in and around area Christian schools as a student, teacher, assistant coach, and close observer for over twenty-five years, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern emerge.  Christian school administrators and parents seem to believe something that’s simply not true.  Something fundamental to what a school does.  Something intrinsic to what a school is.  Something that affects everyone involved with the school in a profound way.

Many administrators and parents seem to believe that their school must be more than a school.

They want it to be a community center, a fine arts center, a recreation program, an athletic league, a day-care center, and a local church.  They expect teachers and staff to bend over backwards, outside of the hours of the normal school-day, to perform these extra functions.  They even will ask teachers to effectively cancel classes inside the school-day to allow students to perform these other functions.  Then they have the pride to say, “They were doing something academic.  Don’t penalize their grade.”

Well, guess what, folks, no matter how much you want a school to be some or all of those things, it’s none of those things.  A school is . . . . drumroll . . . . a SCHOOL !!!  It’s not rocket science.  The more we try to make a school more than a school, the less it actually is . . . a school.  Which is, after all, why it exists in the first place.

I mean, to paraphrase Tommy Boy, I could build a building and call it a boat, but would that make it a boat?  Nope, it would still be a building.  A school is a school because it’s where academic learning happens.  Does academic learning fuel other types of learning?  Absolutely.  Is a school responsible for those other types of learning?  No, not properly.

While it’s fine to do some outside the classroom learning, it’s not proper to do most of your work outside the classroom.  Far beyond that is the notion that the school should be additionally responsible for handling its students’ athletics, dance, voice, music, performance, daycare, and social needs.  This is a postmodern notion, invented by folks who think they’re smarter than administrators 100 years ago.  Guess what, proud administrators, you’re not.

We haven’t forgotten you, either, parents.  Don’t forget that this applies to you.  You are the ones clamoring administrators for all these things.

The fact is that the more you try to do as a school, the less you are a school.  And isn’t that why you’re there?  Why not let your teachers focus . . . I don’t know, hmm . . . on teaching?  Why not let your teachers use their free time afterschool to . . . go spend time with their families, churches, and neighbors?  Why keep them from the other things God – not you – has called them to?

Could it be that you’re trying to play God in their lives and have failed to understand the right order of callings?  Could it be that you want to have your own little kingdom and say, “Look at us!  Look at X Christian Academy!  Look how many cool things we can do!” rather than saying faithfully in the classroom, “Look at Jesus!  Look how He’s made things!  Look how good He is to us!”?

Could it be that you’ve become enamored with the “boastful pride of life” as it pertains to your little school kingdom?  Remember 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

To make it plain, the will of God for your school is that you be a . . . school.  So:

  • Let your teachers go home and be the husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, church members, neighbors, and friends that they are called to be.
  • Let your students go home and learn how to apply what they’ve learned by being more faithful children, brothers, sisters, neighbors, workers, and friends.
  • Let your parents stop leaving their children with you all . . . day . . . long.  Let them become more faithful parents, husbands, wives, neighbors, and friends and stop treating your school like a nanny.
  • Let your administrators go home and have a life outside of school, fulfilling their greater callings as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, church members, neighbors, and friends.

In the end, you’ll have a truer, more faithful school for it; and God, not your school, will get all the glory.

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About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

2 Responses to The Less is More Principle for Schools

  1. Pingback: Less is More for Schools: Part 2 « Your Cross on My Back

  2. Pingback: A “Less is More” Diagnostic for American Schools « Your Cross on My Back

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