Brilliance

by Neil Anderson, Head of School

Dominus Illuminatio Mea

The world is littered with intelligent people who are not brilliant. Smart people who are arrogant. Skilled people who are selfish. Experts who are morally corrupt.

Sometime in the 1700′s the word “bright” began to be used to describe intelligence. Before that it was only used to refer to something that has a shiny quality. Both meanings are important for our purposes at TCS. We are hopeful that our students would be shiny, intelligent people–those who radiate with the brilliance of God.

The people in education who have had the most dramatic impact on me are the ones whose intelligence is brilliant. They have a way of bringing the most mundane subjects to life. They don’t just relay knowledge–they function as vessels of the infinite brilliance of God. They recognize that life is a series of steady miraculous moments in which we should be steadily wowed were we not so indifferent.

It is fairly simple to distinguish between the intelligent and the brilliant in this sense. The intelligent are happy they know what they know and happy for you to hear about it. The brilliant are happy to know some of what God knows and happy to help you access that yourself. Listening to a brilliant person makes you want to learn/worship. Listening to an intelligent person makes you want to sleep. The British seem to have a more effective use of this word. When they say “that’s brilliant,” they tend to mean it is both genius and stimulating.

Brilliance is a great word for the classical Christian education agenda. We are certainly investing towards intelligence, but praying desperately that God would grow a brilliance in our students. Our Latin motto this year is “Dominus illuminatio mea,” the Lord is my light. This is a phrase we have put forth hoping students will own it more and more through the years. Not only that the Lord would be their source of truth, but also their source of the brilliance.

One of our teachers recently relayed some information she thought I would enjoy about a student who was having trouble staying on topic. Apparently this student, who is in one of our younger grades, would raise his hand in the middle of math lessons to announce things like “God is the light of the world,” or “God loves you and you and you and you,” pointing around the room. I did enjoy this. I enjoyed it because little scenarios like this force the issue. In a public school it’s an awkward situation, in our school these comments are every bit relevant to any subject being studied. These comments could never really be considered off topic at TSC.

We pray that TCS students will be bright, knowing the Lord is our light, our Truth, our only hope of brilliance.