Great Books…again

In the interest of trying to get to leather-related topics, I pretty much skipped over the fact that after my initial year off from high school–during which time I was a river runner, ran a marathon, worked various odd jobs, and rode my bike across the Lewis and Clark trail–I did my first year at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, N.M.

Contrary to what the name might suggest, St. John’s is not religiously affiliated. Students there do read the Bible during their second year, but it is in the context of the great books of the western world. There is a sister campus in Annapolis, MD. The rough sketch curriculum for St. John’s is: Plato and Aristotle, Euclid and Ptolemy, Ancient Greek, and science for the first year. The second year is Bible and Shakespeare, Ancient Greek, Music, Descartes and Pascal. I only did two years, but the entire four year reading list is here:

There are essentially no electives at St. John’s. Every student takes the same classes and every professor (called tutors there) teach the same classes. There are also no grades and no tests (in the commonly used sense).

I mentioned early in my blog that I was a pretty bad high school student. Many traditional colleges (all with excellent hockey programs–my first filter of excellence back then) didn’t accept me. I had been accepted to University of Utah, but I didn’t want to go and they had a policy of accepting any student from Utah who was warm and breathing.

St. John’s, I later discovered, used none of the traditional filters that other schools used for students. (I met a few students at St. John’s who hadn’t even graduated from high school, so that explains it…) They accepted me, and I thought it sounded interesting, so I tried it.

So, here was my pattern as of summer, 1981:

*hockey in high school
*river runner/biker for a year
*Plato/Aristotle/Euclid for a year
*Shoe repair and ballet for a year

And I had fallen in love too! Given my history to this point, my mother (and probably several others who didn’t tell me) was worried that my relationship with Katherine would be similar to my college life. However, Katherine and I threw worry to the wind and decided to move to Santa Fe and live together while I tried my second year at St. John’s. Adding another bullet to the list above:

*Bible/Shakespeare/Descartes for a year

So, in August, 1981, Katherine and I loaded up a very small U-Haul trailer, and my mom and her husband Jay drove us down to Santa Fe. We arrived during Indian Market, the busiest weekend of the year.

Author: edisonleatherworks

I'm a biochemistry professor and leatherworker who likes bicycles, travel, art, education, and music. Walking is my favorite form of transportation, and I regularly practice Tai Chi.

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