St. John’s

Could someone attend a college with no majors or minors, grades, tests or even textbooks, then graduate and walk out with the same amount of practical knowledge and possibly something more rare? Say an ability to critically think and reason, to find value in knowledge (true knowledge, not rote memorization or robot-like processing), and an innate desire to form one’s own opinions? Some of you will say no, I would like to say yes.

Following this desire it is my fervent goal to attend St. John’s College right here in Annapolis (my current home) following my departure from the Navy. Whenever that may be. Some of you know that I started looking into this college not too long ago and have found it fascinating ever since. The basic premise is a classical education. Much like the founding fathers of our county you study the works of great minds like Aristotle, Euclid, Socrates, Homer and Einstein instead of the volumes of pieced together information from them in the form of textbooks.

In my line of work there is one thing that has always surprised me. It is the fact that, to a great extent, my life story and many of those in my career field are almost indistinguishable from one another. That is to say that a large amount of us are smart but wasted it in high school by refusing to do homework or the like. That we were bored by the education system to an extent to not care, and that it has set us back a ways. I’ve met the smartest people I know in my job and some of them like my friend Nail have already taken the path espoused by St. John’s without doing so on purpose. He also stirred this desire in me and in a sense shown me what I was missing: knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I would consider myself educated, but it isn’t the same thing as having knowledge. Many people are smart, and sometimes it causes us to slack off for lack of interest, but there are realms of  interesting knowledge that schools won’t or can’t teach you and that is where the meat is! That is what draws me to St. John’s and is why I’m reading the books in their program now since I cannot attend while in the military. While researching this school I came across a couple of articles by either alumni or those researching the school themselves. I’ve posted my favorite below.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/06/13/110613fa_fact_scibona – Note that this Alumnus has a similar story to mine until he attends St. John’s

http://www.stjohnscollege.edu/about/colleges.shtml – Excerpt from “Colleges that change lives” (visit the website)

On a similar note, I watched Lincoln the other day and in doing so was reminded of the value of this kind of thinking and knowledge. Before you watch the clip below, let me set it up for you a bit:

Lincoln is deciding whether or not to allow the delegates from the Confederacy to come to D.C. in order to talk about a treaty. If he does so it will demolish his plans to pass the 13th amendment, but if he doesn’t the war would continue on and if the amendment was defeated, all that loss of life would be for not. He is talking to 2 men about his views and mentions that when he was young he visited the library and just read, and in doing so came across Euclid’s works and although he wasn’t able to understand all of it, what he did understand is stuck in his mind permanently. Furthermore he remarks on the application of a mathematic principle in the struggle against slavery.  Here’s the clip:

 

 

I think this is the best scene of the movie (sorry for spoiling it) hands down. I also think it illustrates my overall meaning in this post. The fact that true understanding of this principle allowed Lincoln to put into words something which he knew was right and just from a moral standpoint, and further more “prove” it as correct leads me to believe that having a wealth of information that you understand on a deeper level will show its usefulness in areas of your life unimaginable to you at the moment.

 

Growing up

When I was younger I often wondered what “being grown up” meant. It seemed as though I was already grown up at 16. I had a job, paid for my own gas etc. and my parents generally trusted me to do what should be done. As I grew older I looked back and realized that each time I thought I was “grown up” I wasn’t really and that now maybe I was. Well I’ve grown even older still, as tends to happen, and recently reached the point where I have a house with my new wife and our two ferocious basenji dogs. I spend thousands on things like a fence for our dogs, installed new ceiling fans and other items to make our home nicer and yet I can still look back a year or two and feel that my idea of “grown up” was in fact childish. Does this ever go away? Will I one day look back and feel that this was a silly notion to begin with? These things I do not know, but hopefully writing this down will help me set it aside and just live without trying to achieve things which I’ve been led to believe are
indicative of being “grown up”.

I did not intend to write such a long piece about nothing, but I seem to have more to say about this than I originally knew.

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Song of the day:
Sail by AWOLNATION (Thanks Vikings)

work all night if you have to. the magpie comes at noon.

So this is the first blog post in what is hopefully a long and productive set of blogs. I’ve chosen to ignore just about everything that WordPress has advised me to do, such as to pick 1 topic and construct the entire blog around that idea as. The way I see it, using these cookie-cutter design points and ideas ruin the individuality of blogs and just adds to the ever-growing list of blogs that are used essentially as advertisements for someone/thing. This blog isn’t the fill-in-the-blank type, the only “goal” that exists is to muse on life and other topics of interest to me (and hopefully you if you’re reading it). So for those who just want a single blurb to describe the topic of this entire blog: Life, as I see, live and react to it.

Song of the Moment:

Magpie by The Mountain Goats