Likening the education they were about to begin to a journey, speaker Maura Reynolds encouraged the members of Hope's incoming freshman class to be ready for the unexpected byways as well as the high-speed superhighways.
"During your time at Hope, you may face a detour;
you may want to make a trip to an interesting-sounding
place; or you may decide you'd like to travel (at least for
a while) in a style different than you planned," she said.
"Whatever your preferred style of traveling, you'll want to
develop some pretty sophisticated map-reading skills, to
have the courage and the humility to go down some roads that
may not be as well-marked as that inter-state, and to learn
when and where to stop and get some advice."
"And, if all of us at Hope College do our jobs, in
the end you'll create your own map," Reynolds said.
Reynolds, director of advising and an assistant
professor of Latin at Hope, presented the address "Amo,
Amas: Love, Learning and the Life of the Mind" during the
college's Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 2 p.m.
in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. She defined the Latin in the
title as "I love" and "you love" respectively, references to
the passion for learning that she hoped all would share.
Approximately 1,000 people, primarily new students
and their families, attended the event. Fall semester
classes at Hope will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 8 a.m.
Reynolds described developing the ability to
navigate the expected and the unexpected as a crucial
component of the education the students would be receiving.
"After all, a good education is much more a process than a
product," she said.
"And if students graduate from Hope College with a
packet of knowledge only, we in this community (professors
and students) have not done our jobs," she said. "Our job
is to help students become producers and creators of
knowledge, and discerning, thoughtful customers of what
other people (including their teachers) claim to know."
"When our teaching is good, it often raises more
questions than it answers," she said. "Because as John
Adams reminds us, education is not the filling of a pail,
it's the lighting of a fire--a fire we hope will burn
through a lifetime."
Reynolds cited the inability to predict the future
as a prime reason for being a life-long learner. She
observed, for example, that in 1899, the commissioner of the
U.S. Patent Office said that "Everything that can be
invented has been invented" that the chairman of IBM in 1943
predicted "a world market for maybe five computers"; that
Decca Records rejected the Beatles in 1962 with "We don't
like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out"; and
that in 1981 Bill Gates suggested that "640K ought to be
enough for anybody."
"In the last few years, several national surveys
have asked students and their families, and the general
public, about what goals they consider most important for a
college education," she said. "In the surveys, most people
rejected the goal 'learning for learning's sake' as too
'impractical.' Instead, given what we don't know about our
future, I think learning for learning's sake may be the most
practical and the most marketable goal we could set for
these four years."
Reynolds noted that openness to different
directions can also serve the students well as they make
"Our vocations, our callings, are much more than
our jobs and our careers; our vocations are all the life-
choices that we make in response to God's gifts," she said.
"Discerning vocations--life choices--takes time
and patience and listening, not so much for a call from out
there...but from a call planted right here," she said.
"Because there is no superhighway to speed us on the road to
these discoveries, and we'll need to draw on courage and
humility--and sometimes we may need to take a road trip to a
place we didn't plan to go."