How to be a Scholar: Second, Love the Work

Dr. Dan Says: Be a teacher.

We all like to think of ourselves as scholars in the best tradition of those great names that dominate our respective fields.

However, we should also keep in mind that our privileged positions in higher education also give us the responsibility to share what we know and how we know it to others: students and fellow scholars alike.

In your research and in your writing, try to keep the perspective that you are trying to contribute to the scholarly conversation regarding your field.

And, keep your students in mind when doing the research and the writing, as this can help your focus.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the critics you best remember are the ones who taught you something, who inspired you to follow a particular line of thought. See yourself in that same tradition.


Dr. Sandy Says: What does it take to be a scholar? Knowledge of your field and a passion for learning are certainly requirements. You must also be disciplined and reflective, the embodiment of “I think; therefore, I am.”  But the most important attribute is the desire to understand.

Knowing facts without understanding their significance, their interconnectivity, is essentially useless. Having a plethora of facts at your command may help you become a Jeopardy champion, but it doesn’t make you a scholar.

Facts are only puzzle pieces. As a scholar, you are either fitting the pieces together to discover the picture they comprise or looking at the picture to see where the pieces you have fit.

To borrow from Stephen Covey, you must “seek first to understand.” You explore the universe through the perspective of your particular field. You question and analyze, reflect and meditate. You are the little boy on the cereal box, holding a box of the cereal. No matter how deeply you delve, there is always one more cereal box with a picture of a little boy holding a box of the cereal. Each answer leads to another question.

And that is the forte of the scholar: relentlessly searching for the next piece of the puzzle in hope of answering one more question for humankind.

–by the Staff of Edit911, Inc. & Baldwin Book Publishing




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