Saturday, February 16, 2008

Student. noun.

Student. 1. A person who is engaged in or addicted to study. Const. of, in, or with defining word prefixed, indicating the subject studied.

Etymology: [In the forms, var. of ESTUDIANT, a. OF. estudiant, estudient, mod.F. ├ętudiant (= Pr. estudian, Sp. estudiante, Pg. estudante, It. studiante, studiente), subst. use of pr. pple. of estudier, ├ętudier to STUDY; in the mod. () form, ad. L. student-em, pr. pple. of studre, to be eager, zealous, or diligent, to study; cf. It. studente, Du., G., Sw., Da. student.]

- Oxford English Dictionary online

I consider myself an eternal student. I think everyone should. We are never done learning. I hope that students in all classes, dance or otherwise, approach learning in this manner. I especially hope that the students in my classes do. Take a look at the phrases in bold in the etymology above. These four terms in particular started jogging my thoughts about being a student... What do those terms mean to you? Here's what they mean to me:

Eager: Full of keen desire or appetite. The student must want to be in class in the first place. If she or he is coerced to be there, chances are she or he will not reach their full potential as a seeker of knowledge. The student must be hungry for the knowledge that their class and instructor offers. I interpret being eager as what a student feels before ever registering for a class.

Zealous: Intensely earnest or actively enthusiastic. It is an extension of that eagerness described above. A student must be enthusiastic about the material being taught in order to absorb the maximum amount of knowledge. Being zealous is the excitement a new student feels after her first or second class. The student's enthusiasm might even be contagious; maybe her friends will want to know what all the fuss is about. It is important to maintain this enthusiasm to reach the next characteristic.

Constant in application, persevering in endeavor. Diligence implies a constant action, sustained dedication. This does not mean showing up to one night of class, working hard that one night, and then never showing up again or even just showing up sporadically. Diligence means continuous effort. A student must apply themselves in class consistently in order to learn to the best of their potential.

Studious: Devoted to the acquisition of learning. Ideally, through diligence, students remain dedicated to learning what their teachers have to offer. They review the material outside of class, explore what they have learned, either by themselves or with classmates. They return to class with questions and revelations to share with their classmates and instructor. Students commit their knowledge to memory and practice it, building upon previous knowledge, and eschewing that which is irrelevant, harmful, or outdated.

I really like these four characteristics. Students must work, and they must never cease seeking to build their knowledge base, whether in academia or in the dance studio. Nothing we truly learn is easy. For if it were easy, then we wouldn't be acquiring new knowledge. New knowledge challenges our current perceptions, changing them, mostly for the better.

So... what does being a student mean to you?


Irene said...

I absolutely agree with you! I think the mark of a mature, balanced individual is being open to these ideas. I've always gone through life with the attitude 'i may be cranky and opinionated sometimes, but it doesn't mean i don't think that i always have something to learn'.

Elizabeth said...

Being a student for me is a constant state of being -- I have a very long list of things I want to learn in my life. Rather like the "Bucket List", instead of things I want to DO before I die, it's things I want to LEARN. I will think on this some more and see if I can clarify my thoughts for you.

I'm so glad you're doing this blog!