One of my favorite parts of taking Greek has been my Thursday night translation group. Every week, for nine weeks, the four of us have talked about calls to ministry, our everyday life, and prayer requests before we’ve jumped into homework. We’ve also discussed the classes we’ve loved.
More than once, someone has joked about a fabulous class having a hard professor. “I learned a lot but she’s a hard grader.” We laughed that we were keeping a running list of the tough graders so that we could avoid them, but it was just that, a joke.
I’m going to seminary to learn, to grow, to be challenged. I want to listen to intelligent, thoughtful conversations even if I have to scramble to keep up. I want to read content that will require effort and work on my part. I want my own skills to grow even if it means lower grades.
I’m not in seminary to get A+’s in everything.
You might laugh, but that’s a big statement for me. I attended a small, private high school and I was valedictorian of my class. I graduated college with a 4.0. Grades were a contest that I was determined to win. Now that I’m parenting-and teaching-my own children, I’ve realized that is not how everyone is wired to learn. I don’t want that to be their marker of success. I want them to accept a B or a C and come out of a class stronger and more thoughtful. I want them to challenge and compete with themselves, not their classmates. If your best is a 4.0, get it. But don’t sacrifice good classes and growth for it.
I read somewhere that if you praise kids for grades, they will choose the easy way to ensure they always get good grades. If you reward effort and learning, they will lean into hard things. They aren’t intimidated by the process of learning and the inevitable struggle and failure. I want to teach my kids that way of learning, but I also want to practice it myself.
Greek has been this type of exercise. Not because my grades aren’t great: I’ve put in the work and they are. But because it’s been hard. I have not used my brain this way in a long time. It’s been a frustrating joy to me. Before I settled into a weekly rhythm and realized that every Wednesday night I would feel overwhelmed, like that week’s material would never settle into something intelligible, I panicked, thinking maybe I couldn’t learn Greek. I’m glad I didn’t quit out of fear. After a few weeks, I realized that was a normal Wednesday night reaction and I needed to hang in there until Saturday. Early into the class, I had the discussion with myself about how I wanted to learn Greek, not get an A+ in Greek. There’s a difference and if I could only choose one, I knew which one I wanted. I want Greek to be a tool I carry through my life, not a line on a planned program.
I did note the professors my classmates discussed, but in order to take their classes, not avoid them.