Studenting– living life as a Student

It’s complicated, living a life.


Biologists tell us it’s about breathing and growing.

Philosophers point to questions.

Educators grasp at learning

Religions faithfully look to authorities.

Science pursues through fact and logic.

The Arts idealize imagination,

Humanists reflect on passion and metaphoric.

Scholars seek answers through inquiry and knowing.


These, the knowers, know life is the pursuit of knowing

That knowing has no limits

Of learning, gaining understanding and meaning:

Thinking with purpose

Maybe a matter of goals, perspective, and ought,

Knowers focused on minds past,

Content with their knowledge of truths and reasoned thought

Leaving students to master Thinking arts.


Meanwhile, students seeking personal empowerment, 

To escape, not replicate, worlds past.

They, the past instructs; they, the future invites.

Creatively liberating mindful discernment

Through disciplined Scholarship,

As practiced by knowers and students alike,

Aimed at enlarged human capacities for

Constructing, Integrating, Applying, and Explicating

Personal knowledge.


Taking up the task of knowing one’s self as a Thinker:

Developing the mind’s I’s for sensing

—Imagination, intuition, and insight—

And gaining confidence as an independent agent of

 —Learning, knowing, and acting—

Mastering the arts of applied reflective thought

In personal engagements with activities of living

To shape the unfolding of an uncertain future.


So, living a life of studenting—being a thinker and knower—

is simply this:


Master the duality—the rational and the imaginative—

present in your own nature as a thinking human;

Empower your independent intellectual self:

Study and practice critical and creative thinking

In reflective personal scholarship

In the several worlds you will experience over a lifetime,

The worlds of self, ideas, society, and nature.

All the while remembering,

“Thinking is a partial act; the total act is living the experience.”


Scholarship is the principal organizing theme in higher education–it is what faculty practice in their respective disciplines and scholarship is what all students are in training to become practitioners of over their lifetimes.  A comparison might be: Medical Doctors study and practice medicine, while faculty and students study and practice scholarship.  Scholarship is a way of thinking and acting about knowledge: how to construct knowledge; how to integrate new knowledge with existing knowledge; how to apply knowledge in solving problems, making decisions and shaping judgments; and, finally, how to communicate and explain knowledge to others.  So, to be a student, one should focus on learning how to study and how to practice scholarship, whatever your major.  Emerson linked his notion of Man Thinking to the development and practice of creative scholarship–including both critical and creative thinking.  So his essay has relevance to Higher Education today–Does Higher Education train students in both critical and creative thinking?  My judgment is: “not typically”, and I offer some suggestions as to how this deficiency might be overcome.  I end the essay with a question to all Higher Education graduates:  When you reflect on your own life–have you been a practitioner of Man Thinking, i.e., of independent and imaginative Scholarship–of being creative in how you construct, integrate, apply and explicate knowledge?

Gene Melander
October 26, 2011