Some of us have been exploring the concept of Christian liberal arts education this summer, and in one of the books we've been reading, Arthur F. Holmes' The Idea of a Christian College, we found some comments I may start including on my syllabi:
"The pursuit of truth [. . .] carries with it certain moral prerequisites: the willingness and determination to learn, intellectual honesty, a self-discipline that makes lesser and more selfish satisfactions wait."
The student needs to understand that "education is a Christian vocation, one's prime calling for these years, that education must be an act of love, of worship, of stewardship, a wholehearted response to God. Attitude and motivation accordingly afford but a beginning: this personal contact between faith and learning should extend to disciplined scholarship and to intellectual and artistic integrity."
"How a student may feel about a teacher or administrator or about rules and requirements is secondary to his moral commitment to [the] task [of education]. I do not expect students to like everything about me or my courses or the college, but I do expect them to be committed to gaining an education. It is that which qualifies them as members of an academic community."
I would say that if a young person doesn't have these attitudes toward education, he will be better off finding a different task for the present. This will not, however, remove from him the need for commitment and self-discipline.
Because, clearly, one can change the "college education" of Holmes' remarks to any task whatsoever and the admonitions still apply. Whatever one sets out to learn, whatever one wishes to accomplish in life, these attitudes of commitment to the task are paramount, or mediocrity will be the earned reward. As Richard Weaver points out in Ideas Have Consequences, this is a hard concept to sell to a culture which has rejected transcendentals, lives for comfort, and expects the rewards of excellence without work.
Pray for the parents and teachers who are trying to counteract what everything around us teaches the young people entrusted to our care.