The Good Student

“The good student, then, ought to be humble and docile, free alike from vain cares and from sensual indulgences, diligent and zealous to learn willingly from all, to presume never upon his own knowledge, to shun the authors of perverse doctrine as if they were poison, to consider a matter thoroughly and at length before judging of it, to seek to be learned rather than merely to seem so, to love such words of the wise as he has grasped, and ever to hold those words before his gaze as the very mirror of his countenance.”  Hugh of St Victor, Didascalicon, Book 3, Chap. 13. (Italics in original)

These words from Hugh (an early twelfth-century teacher and regular canon in Paris) beautifully describe how a student should approach his or her studies.  One should be humble and docile in respect for one’s teachers but also in honor of the wisdom of the ancients.  However, a great desire to learn must drive the student from within the mind and heart.  Hugh also indicates that true erudition is constant and repetitive.  Good students seek to understand, remember, and constantly return to their subject matter.


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