You may have heard of Sam Klein, but due to the slight chance that you haven’t, I’ve composed this introductory blog. I’m rather unusual from most students because I come from a rust bucket city in eastern-south side of Wisconsin, no fancy-pants public school or anywhere exciting. But that doesn’t make me particularly unusual. My parents, in the first half of my life, were living in a lower income area of Green Bay when they had me. Due to the lack of resources, I evidently lost the reading portion of my formal education. Though my parents read to me quite regularly, I had a learning disability that prevented me from catching up to the rest of the kids.
As the education system dragged me behind, I became familiar with a lot of muck that goes on behind the doors of special education. To say the least, there’s a lot to be disappointed about. By the time I went into fourth grade, I was illiterate, and an English professor would probably say to me today: “You still are illiterate!” I wouldn’t blame them due to the quality of my prose. [I used the word “them” to be gender neutral.] But there was a time where finishing high school was the last thing expected from me, and I suppose the same standard still applies for college.
Well, I finished high school. At that time of my life, my parents had bumped themselves up in society. I was in a different city where kids from wealthy families went to the private school I attended. I finished with decent grades, but I was a punk. I thought George Orwell was cool, and because of my interests in books like Slaughterhouse Five, Dante’s Inferno, Plato’s dialogues, etc., I was deemed more or less a heathen by my community – not so much by the religious leaders of that community but more so by the parents who only saw the long hair and the frustration in my life. At that time, my dream of being a pastor was being kicked out of me.
My mom told me something, one day, after having a long conversation with her in the van she used to drive around: “Sam, nothing in life is easy.” This still resonates with me. That is probably why the Great Books spoke so well to me. In Robert Hutchins’s introduction to the Great Books, he writes about the flaws of walking the road of textbook-reading and exam-taking. Education is not meant to be easily memorized and then forgotten. Education should prepare you to educate yourself later in life, to better understand what it means to educate yourself, and to then be a better citizen in this world. I found out about Shimer College, which does all three better than any school I could imagine. That’s when I applied to college.
I have been spending a lot of time on Shimer, working on readings that tend to be a challenge. During my breaks, I usually spend time translating Russian. I’m quite good at it. Recently, in class, I was able to translate a Russian sentence for my class to better understand the translation we were using. And then, I was complimented for doing a good job. After the road I traveled to get here, that meant a lot to me.
But until next time,