john_j_enright (john_j_enright) wrote,

Daughter in Maryland

My daughter has left for her freshman year of college. She will be attending St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, a school whose curriculum could be summed up as "Great Books 24/7." I hope, very much, that she likes it there.

She is our youngest, so our nest is looking empty!

When I was at Columbia in the early 70's for two years, we had a kind of modified great books program going on. I enjoyed the books themselves as a rule, but I kept feeling that the professors saw the books through distorted lenses. This certainly wasn't something I could prove, but often it seemed like they had read a different book than I had.

Some of that is human nature and different premises, but I have come to believe that academic trends and "research programs" played a huge part in it. There is always some "new thing" in any academic area, and the "new thing" is what articles get published about, so it is what professors spend time reading and thinking about.

But the "new thing" for the students is the book itself, and they should learn the main things the book has to offer before they learn the trendy new slant on it.

Rhyme of the day:

Don't let me rant
About trendy slant!

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