Above and Beyond: Authentic Academics

Before I became a Christian I had little motivation to excel in the classroom. Education was more about receiving a passing grade and less about a genuine understanding of the material. It wasn’t until I read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity that I was prompted to pursue Scripture’s truth. Soon after becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for having a faith grounded in knowledge was sparked.

Thankfully, today I am able to reflect on my early days of learning from the perspective as an adjunct professor at Biola University. I now understand that being a student is a remarkable privilege God has given to humans. It is even a gift that can be experienced beyond the classroom. Below is the “Beyond the requirements” portion (which starts at number 48) of my list of 100 Academic Commandments that I hope will encourage individuals to see learning as an opportunity to sincerely gain knowledge and reach their full potential.

Beyond the requirements

48. Pursue information, knowledge, and wisdom as a daily priority in life.

49. Make learning a lifetime goal, not just a temporary activity while you are in school.

50. Commit yourself to reaching your full academic potential.

51. Take responsibility for your education (don’t blame others).

52. Set academic goals, both short and long term.

53. Take courses that will challenge you.

54. Study under the most competent instructors.

55. Improvise, adapt, and overcome any problem.

56. Read more broadly than required.

57. Incorporate the great books of the Western world into your education.

58. Make reading a daily priority throughout your life.

59. Seek to develop cultural literacy.

60. Build an appreciation for the arts in your education.

61. Utilize a Socratic approach to learning.

62. Develop the physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of your life.

63. Pursue and take pride in academic honors and awards.

64. Seek after academic grants and scholarships.

65. Strive to strengthen the foundational elements of the educational process (reading, logic, speech, and writing).

66. Strengthen the deficient areas of your education.

67. Acknowledge that no one can master all fields of study; therefore find your strengths and focus on those areas.

68. Be prudent in planning for a career.

69. Consider how your education will impact your career or occupation.

70. Interview people who are working in the careers you are interested in studying.

71. Reflect upon how your education will impact your civic responsibilities as a citizen.

72. Do not evaluate your academic performance purely in terms of letter grades.

73. Strive to learn everything you can as a student, and let the letter grades take care of themselves.

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