"Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams."
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Colassians 3:23-24 (NIV)
Geoff Colvin in his book, Talent is Overrated, spends some time writing about the misconception of "Divine Myth", the idea that talented and skilled individuals are just born that way. He uses the examples of Mozart and Tiger Woods to make his point. Both men are often called "naturals" or "child prodigys". Nothing could be farther from the truth to describe the reasons for both men's successes and talents.
He describes both men as having fathers who were very skilled as teachers in their respective areas. Mozart's father, Leopold, was a famous composer who wrote an influential book on violin instruction. Tiger's dad, Earl, was somone who loved teaching. He developed techniques for Tiger for gripping the club at two years of age.
Both fathers used talented and professional teachers when their son's learning outgrew their skills. Mozart studied under Johann Christian Bach while Tiger was under the instruction of professional teachers after the age of four.
Both Mozart and Tiger worked hard for their accomlishments. Neither Tiger or his father ever hinted that Tiger had a gift for golf. Both Tiger and his dad gave the same reason always for Tiger's success, hard work.
At New Park Street Christian Academy, hard work is a habit developed in our students through our instructional process. Students gradually or quickly learn the benefits to working hard through being successful in their daily work.
One way hard work is rewarded is by the immediate feedback given to students for the work expected. Whatever the task, a student receives immediate feedback in the form of encouragement, correction, and/or praise.
Another way hard work is encouraged is through providing an assignment that is a manageable size. Long assignments tend to cause students to quickly work to finish it or worse just give up at seeing all that has to be done. Assignments of smaller length are also more easily focused on what is needed to complete the assignment.
An example from writing would be the difference in being told to write a 1000 word essay as compared to a manageable sized assignment of write a paragraph of 4-6 sentences, that eventually will be a 1000 word essay made up of many paragraphs. The smaller focus and an opportunity for quicker feedback for the student works.
Of course when a student over time develops his writing skills, a writing assignment of a paragraph would be quite boring. That student may be given a much longer assignment with greater expectations for what a paragraph looks like. The opportunities created with individualized student expectations are very exciting for me as a teacher.
Hard work is also encouraged through the concept of deliberate practice that permeates instruction at New Park Street Christian Academy. Deliberate practice is easily accomplished because of the daily instruction practiced here.
Unlike the daily instruction in a typical school, the math lesson expectations, and practice of any student in the school will look different than the other students. A sixth grade student could be working through basic math concepts while a fifth grade student may be quickly progressing through pre-algebra skills. Each student's new daily goals predetermined by his/her accomplishments from the day before.
Work is rewarded at New Park Street Christian Academy through shorter, focused assignments individualized for each student. It is a beautiful thing to observe, students becoming confident and skilled learners.
I am Tim Ihms, the founder, head master, instructor, book keeper, and part time custodian at New Park Street Christian Academy. The blogs on this page are written for the parents of New Park Street students and for those who may be interested in sending their child to the school some day.