Saturday, November 1, 2008


An Academic Homily

What kind of house have you made for your mind to live in? How is it arranged, appointed, and furnished?

You do as much for your bodily needs—why not for your mind’s needs?

If, as they say, your mind is a terrible thing to waste, then is it not lamentable to let it languish in poverty of circumstance, unprovided for in whatever helps it to grow, develop and function optimally?

What, then, does your mind need to be well accommodated in a place where it will thrive?

First, your mind needs to be recognized and valued. Yes, you have a mind. Yes, it can grow stronger, keener, and more capable. And that’s all to the good, because to be mindful rather than mindless helps you survive at the least, and live wisely at the best.

To be strong minded rather than weak minded is an obvious advantage in a world of competition for resources, just as it is to be mentally disciplined instead of absent minded.

What is education intended for most fundamentally but to shape and shape up your mind, to add new rooms to what should become your mental mansion: a room for contemplating, a room for imagining, a room for writing, another for calculating, for designing, for building, for enjoying (such pleasures as music, dance, art, literature), and rooms for congregating with like-minded and other-minded folks.

The point is that you don’t study subjects for their own sakes, but for how those subjects affect you subjectively, how they alter your mentality, reshape your mind. Your educational job is to cultivate your mind. Keep your eye not on your report card or your transcript but on your thought processes and on the well-functioning of your brain.

No brain, no gain.