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The Intellectual Virtues: Courage

Lisa Eekhoff| August 6, 2019

Courage, Dear One

When courage puts its feet to the ground, what does it look like? A soldier on the battlefield risking his life for his comrades.  A missionary speaking the truth despite the consequences which might result. A third-grade student raising her hand to ask a question about a concept she does not yet fully understand.

“A child’s raised hand may seem insignificant, but it represents a crucial step in the development of intellectual courage.”

When compared with great acts of heroism, a child’s raised hand may seem insignificant, but it represents a crucial step in the development of intellectual courage. In that moment the student takes a risk, either to admit that she doesn’t understand and needs help, or to make herself vulnerable by sharing her own ideas. 

Intellectual courage is the willingness to take these risks in the pursuit of truth, to listen and consider ideas outside of one’s own, and to stand firmly for one’s beliefs even when standing alone.

“Intellectual courage is the willingness to take these risks in the pursuit of truth, to listen and consider ideas outside of one’s own, and to stand firmly for one’s beliefs even when standing alone.”

This type of courage is forged not through solitary dramatic moments, but rather through a series of small and seemingly inconsequential ones.

At Covenant, teachers work to ensure a culture in which asking questions is encouraged and celebrated, in which new ideas are welcomed and taken seriously, in which students who step out of their comfort zones are respected and accompanied.  In so doing we create space for courageous acts every day. 

Growth necessitates risk. Risk requires courage. Be brave, dear ones, and raise your hand.

About the Author: Lisa Eekhoff is the principal at Covenant Classical School in Naperville, IL.

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