Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Learned Word: Academic

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Learned Word: Academic

Article excerpt

The link between academia, wisdom, and heroes is far from academic. According to Merriam-Webster, academic can mean "conventional; formalistic" (his musical skills were academically perfect but showed little evidence of spirit); it can mean "theoretical; speculative" or "having no practical or useful significance" (the discussion was purely academic, since the decision had already been made); and it can mean "of, relating to, or associated with an academy or school, especially one of higher learning" (especially rigorous academic programs).

The word academic is born of the academy. And the original academy is associated with Plato. Around 387 B.C.E., that Greek philosopher established his school (which was less formally organized than our modern understanding of school would suggest) at Akademia, a park and gymnasium near Athens. Plato's Akademia was located on the site of a sacred olive grove that had been dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom. (Yes, that's also the inspiration for the groves of academe).

So where do heroes fit in this picture? The name Akademia honors Akademos, a legendary Greek hero. …

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