We often mistake intelligence for knowing things. Some of the least intelligent people I know are veritable encyclopedias, who can quote mathematical formulas and historical dates with ease. They might know many facts, but are often shy of brilliance.
We see true brilliance in people like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. They certainly knew a lot, but from their writings, their brilliance was in how lucidly they grasped the connections between ideas-what ideas meant, and what their consequences and assumptions meant.
How many students in Western Civilization courses could tell you what makes Western Civilization ‘Western’? Chances are good they would say “geography.”
When we begin to see the connections between ideas and understand the whole, a great vision and understanding of life begins to unfurl. We see how everything touches everything else, and it helps us to understand our place in the world and in this wonderful universe in which we find ourselves.
Otherwise, we have isolated ideas and facts that don’t mean anything. There is no ebb and flow between things, which is what makes things truly exciting to learn. All we are left with is neat, dark compartments, each one holding its own fact.
Is it any wonder why school is boring?