A message to his
students by Alan Nordstrom, Professor of English at Rollins College in
Winter Park, Florida:
Above all other reasons
for your taking this course is to help
you grow wise. So should it be in every course you take at Rollins, for
wisdom is the highest aim of a liberal education.
Growing wise is a
life-long enterprise accomplished only
imperfectly, a star aimed at but never reached, only approached more
nearly, yet still the highest human goal.
So, what is it to
be wise? It is to be a fully realized human
beingagain, an impossibility for any ordinary human mortal. It means
to have reached the highest level of development that human
consciousness can attain and to see life from that viewpoint and act
To glimpse this perspective
you rightly turn to the words and
deeds of acknowledged sages throughout history, both secular and sacred.
Those recognized as wise in many ways all witness to the further
reaches of our human potential and are exemplars of what we might become
A liberal education
is about becoming who you have it in you to
be, much more than at this point you can comprehendthough you may
of it. The point now is to believe that you are only the tip of your
own iceberg, that most of who you are potentially has not yet surfaced
and come to light. And that coming to the light of higher consciousness
is why were here on Earth, what human beings are for.
So, in this course
and in all your college courses, think how
what you study will contribute to the full realization of your humanity,
not just to your checklist of requirements for graduation. Graduation
is a goal: it means moving up the ladder. Commencement is an aim: it
means beginning. But where is your ladder leading you? Is it leaning
against the right wall? And what are you beginning after graduation if
not the rest of your life? And whats that for?
To answer that final
question is where wisdom comes in. Your
quest for wisdom is your quest to discover for yourself what your life