Major: Undecided (probably Natural Sciences)How did you decide to come to Shimer? When I started researching colleges, I quickly became disillusioned with mainstream higher education. I felt that much of my high school experience amounted to busywork and mindless memorization, and the thought of going to college to do more of the same, to sit in lecture classes and read textbooks and accrue points for my resume, was terribly depressing. For a while, I considered forgoing college altogether; I didn't feel that the experience would satisfy my intellectual curiosity. When I discovered the Great Books program, I was hooked. What better way to learn how to think and live in society than to read the most influential works of Western civilization, and what better way to understand them than through in-depth discussion with other students who, like myself, were interested in learning and responding, and not just in fulfilling a requirement? Having finally found a place where I could actually get an education, I knew that any ordinary school was out of the question.
Favorite memories since coming to Shimer: My favorite classroom memory so far is the day that facilitator Jim Donovan's Natural Sciences 2 class invaded my Natural Sciences 1 class, pretending to be apes--naturally, we were compelled to launch a periodic table-themed counter-attack. My favorite memories as a member of the small, warm community include late-night walks, home-cooked meals, and trips to the Art Institute.
Favorite class so far and why: My favorite class so far was Natural Sciences 1, which is a physics class concerned with all sorts of groovy subjects like matter, heat, energy, and such. I always hated science classes in high school, but Nat Sci 1 made me think about the physical world around me as something mysterious and wonderful. I appreciate the way that the curriculum includes pre-Socratic Greeks and other writers who conceived of the phenomena we can observe in totally different ways from our own--writers who believed that all things were made of water, or that heat was a physical substance. These texts force you to examine your own preconceptions about the universe and what it is--who's to say that our ideas are better than theirs? What is it about humankind that makes us want to discover truth? In Nat Sci 1, I realized for the first time how philosophical and even spiritual science can be.
Most read/favorite book and why: This question is universally despised by Shimer students, who can't conceive of limiting their love of books to just one title. My standard answer, though I may gnash my teeth at the thought of all the beautiful and beloved books I'm neglecting, is Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men. Mr. Penn Warren was, in my opinion (and in that of the Nobel and Pulitzer committees, as well as whoever it is that designates the U.S. Poet Laureate) one of the best American writers, ever. All The King's Men is a complex novel about politics, morality, Louisiana during the Great Depression, and redemption--but mostly, it's the beauty of the language that makes the book the masterpiece it is: "...the air so still it aches like the place where the tooth was on the morning after you've been to the dentist or aches like your heart in the bosom when you stand on the street corner waiting for the light to change and happen to recollect how things once were and how they might have been yet if what had happened had not happened."