Commencement Education Higher Education Liberal Education Students

Learn to Change and Practice Changing Often

One institution that remains venerable—even nowadays, when we hear so much about the deterioration of respect for established institutions—is the college commencement address. Noteworthy commencement speeches become very popular, primarily because they convey messages of hope, encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom. At the 224th commencement of St. John’s in Annapolis last Sunday, the commencement speaker was […]

Choosing St. John's Education Higher Education Joy of Reading Liberal Education Original Sources Students

Reading Immersion: The Antidote to Soul-Crushing Education

In my last post, What Makes a Book Life-Changing, I wrote about how seniors at St. John’s choose to write senior essays on books that are likely to change their lives. Finding this kind of inspiration in books seems to be less and less frequent among the pre-college crowd. In a recent issue of The New Yorker, David […]

Education Higher Education Joy of Reading Liberal Education Seminar Students

What Makes a Book Life-Changing?

By tackling great books directly—not through the mediation of teachers and lecturers who have predigested them for us—we learn what really matters to us. This is one of the premises behind the St. John’s curriculum—more about that a little later. But first here’s an example from another school. One of the most popular courses at […]

Beginnings Education Higher Education Liberal Education Seminar

Seeking Meaning? Try Starting with the Elements

The study of mathematics here at St. John’s begins with Euclid’s Elements, the wonderfully inventive book that takes us from the simplest beginnings of geometry to the highly complicated construction of five Platonic solids. Studying Euclid engages us in an activity that brings geometrical objects into being even as we recognize them for what they […]

Liberal Education

Honoring Veterans, Envisioning Peace

War endures. The oldest Babylonian tablets mark battles fought, both defensive and offensive, as does the Epic of Gilgamesh, the west’s oldest complete literary work. And the annals of western history never stop reporting on wars and rumors of wars. Douglas MacArthur once calculated that in 3,400 years of human history, only 239 had been […]

Beginnings Choosing St. John's Education Higher Education Liberal Education Seminar Students

Two Steps to Narrowing Down Your College Search

How does one begin a college search? Nowadays I often encounter high school students as young as sophomores who are starting to think about where they might go to college. Many of them—and many of their parents—want advice about how to wade into the ocean of information about colleges and universities that is already inundating […]

Education Higher Education Liberal Education

Why I Teach 154-year-old Mathematical Physics

The rise in advocacy for education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has centered around the importance of these fields to our nation’s economy and business competitiveness. Recently, however, Fareed Zakaria made a case for STEM education as a part of a liberal education. Zakaria placed particular emphasis on the humanities as being at […]