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 […]

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 Seminar Students

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. […]

Liberal Education Seminar

Catching Up to St. John’s

At St. John’s we have long believed that the classroom belongs to the students, that the learners own the discussion, and that the teacher is an experienced learner assisting less experienced learners. Now it seems that many of our colleagues at other institutions are coming to this realization as well. A survey released by the Higher […]

Liberal Education Seminar

Great Books in the Theater of War

Outside the Wire, a performance company  that uses theater and other media to address pressing social issues, runs a project called Theater of War, which presents readings of Sophocles’s Ajax and Philoctetes to military and civilian audiences around the nation. Their aim is to create a space in which psychological injury can be de-stigmatized, and veterans can speak openly with civilians about […]

Choosing St. John's Liberal Education Seminar Students

A “Bigger-than-me” Experience

The tech revolution has made instant gratification so easy that young people now seem addicted to the “me” experience—that is, doing or making anything that maximizes personal pleasure, rewards, or positive feelings. So writes Steven J. Tepper ( in last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education. Tepper contrasts the “me” experience with the “bigger-than-me” experience, which seeks to […]