The Wisdom of Virtuous Friendship

This past Sunday, St. John’s College in Annapolis held its 223rd commencement ceremony. By long tradition, the outgoing senior class selects the commencement speaker. This year, the seniors chose long-time tutor Jonathan Tuck, who retired in 2013 after more than thirty years of service to St. John’s. Mr. Tuck spoke about our common efforts, about our single community of tutors...
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Our Musical College: Even the Dog Sings! (Video Highlights)

St. John’s, as I often say to new acquaintances and prospective students, is a very musical college. When they inevitably ask what I mean, I reply that ours must be one of very few colleges—and quite probably the only one—in which all students must sing in chorus throughout their freshman year, and must study music for the entirety of their...
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An Educational Summer Ahead – Internships for Liberal Artists

As the school year winds down, I’ve been talking to more and more students about how they intend to spend summer break. A good many of them will be taking up summer internships. A summer internship is a win/win proposition, both for employers and for students. The business, research lab, or nonprofit gets a willing and energetic young worker who...
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Bravery through Education

I find that our students can provide the most inspiring accounts of the St. John’s experience. They present St. John’s from the viewpoint that matters most—from the perspective of those for whom the College exists. Every spring, the Caritas Society of St. John’s College holds a luncheon at which a student who has benefitted from its programs is asked to...
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5 Simple Steps Colleges Can Take to Enhance Student Satisfaction

Sometimes complex problems respond to simple remedies. I was reading recently how psychologists David Yeager and Greg Walton discovered that the dropout rate for disadvantaged college students could be cut significantly simply by exposing them to a one-time, thirty-to-forty-five-minute-long presentation on neuroplasticity showing that people can improve their brain functioning on complex intellectual tasks just by practicing. A simple message—that you can...
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Let’s Stop Making Poor Investments in Education

After more than a decade of “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB)—the 2001 Act of Congress that was supposed “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice”—it has clearly failed. Congress is busily engaged in efforts to reform the bill, whose reauthorization remains doubtful. In his recent article for Newsweek.com, Paul Thomas writes about the reasons for the failure. He begins by noting the dependence of...
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College Admissions and the Search for True Value

In a review of Frank Bruni’s Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admission Mania, Nick Romeo takes aim at the American obsession with wealth and prestige as the driving force in the contemporary frenzy surrounding college admissions. His article in the New Republic, “It Doesn’t Matter If Your Kid Doesn’t Get Into Harvard,” takes Bruni to task...
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What We Lose When a Sweet Briar Folds

It was announced last week that Sweet Briar College, the 114-year-old women’s school in Virginia, will be closing at the end of this academic year. This is a sad event in American higher education. When a college with such a distinctive character and historical mission goes out of existence, academe loses something irreplaceable. I recall reading recently—I don’t remember where—the...
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