A TWO MINUTE MUSING
Every day as we walk into Hasseltine Hall (the classroom building) or Chapel your eyes have the opportunity to “see” the eight values of Northpoint. Unfortunately, we do not “see” them because the banners have become all too familiar.
The value we are to be emphasizing this semester is Academics. Given that we are at a college we may not “see” the need to talk or read about this value as we are involved with it just about every day. Perhaps therefore we should stop to consider our value of Academics.
My desire is for each to hold this value in high esteem. I believe each can hold Academics as a value. As I was teaching an undergraduate class a few years ago, I found a book by A.G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life. One of his many quotes that I value is this one, “Genius is long patience, but it must be organized and intelligent patience. One does not need extraordinary gifts to carry some work through; average superiority suffices; the rest depends on energy and wise application” (8).
There are so many aspects to this quote that should help us know we can truly value Academics. Sertillanges uses the phrase “average superiority suffices.” That is an oxymoronic statement for average and superiority do not belong together in this way. But he is right – one does not need to be a genius to do well academically or to value academics. This is his point.
What is “average superiority”? First it is giving ourselves permission to be patient as we study/learn, not to expect to “grasp it” right away. We must allow ourselves the freedom to think through a concept, to reread a paragraph or chapter, or to discuss an idea with a friend or friends. In time, the understanding will come to us. This is the long, intelligent patience.
We all have energy, and we all expend energy. The question is, how will we use our energy? Second, “average superiority” is choosing to use our energies for the purposes of thinking, rereading, or discussing. Choosing to use our energy in these ways is not an extraordinary gift, it is simply a choice or as Sertillanges writes, “wise application.”
Third, we must make the time to think, reread, or discuss. If we make the time for these pursuits, this means I will not expend my energy or time on something else. Again, this is a choice, we must choose to schedule time for these pursuits. This is Sertillanges’ organized patience.
Average superiority, we all have it, we can all use it. And as we do, we will value Academics.