Intellectual Virtue.

By: Dr. Kim Gilmer, ES Principal

What sticks with you from high school?  Do you remember how to balance a chemical equation using linear algebra? Can you recite the dynasties of China in order beginning with the Shang Dynasty? Can you discuss the themes and main characters of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Most of us do not retain much content from our high school classes, and that is okay. We can find information quickly and easily online these days.

Facts and details fade, but we keep habits. We continue on with the patterns of behaving and habits of thinking that we have learned growing up.  If our curiosity as students was encouraged and nurtured, we likely will keep on being curious as adults. If we were taught to be fair in our thinking and civil in our disagreements, listening well to all sides of a discussion and considering other students’ perspectives generously, we will likely carry those habits with us into adulthood as well.

As a school, we are acutely aware that we are in the business of partnering with God and with parents to shape children’s characters. This includes moral character as well as intellectual character. We want our students to be brave and tenacious and loving and humble human beings. And we want their thinking – the patterns of their thoughts – to be characterized by these virtues as well. These patterns, these habits of thinking, will shape them and stick with them long after they have forgotten which artist painted “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

At Rosslyn Academy, we focus on seven specific intellectual virtues (though there are certainly more that could be included). We seek these not as an end in themselves, but as a means to pursue Truth consistent with Scripture, and to honor God with our minds, as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 22:37. The intellectual virtues we seek to cultivate in ourselves and in our students include the following:

-Intellectual Fair-mindedness (“Listen to others’ ideas.”)

-Intellectual Curiosity (“Discover! Wonder! Explore!”)

-Intellectual Honesty (“Focus on the Truth.”)

-Intellectual Tenacity (“Chase Truth! Never give up.”)

-Intellectual Carefulness (“Think and learn with care.”)

-Intellectual Humility (“There is always more to learn.”)

-Intellectual Courage (“Take risks. Be brave with your brain!”)

At Rosslyn Academy, we talk about these and celebrate them. We notice them and self-evaluate for them. We strive to model intellectual virtue and grow in it, using our brains virtuously to understand God and his world, and to bring Him glory.