JILL: I love our curriculum. I love the fact that we only use primary texts.
That was something I always drove me crazy in high school–
I hated text books. So just being able to read the actual
writings of an author and not reading someone else’s interpretations
of them– summaries, snippets, quotes…
>>KATY: We have these very small classes and we have these facilitators here
whose primary responsibility is to monitor us
and work with us and read our writing which is a sort of attention that I never
got in high school and that I know I wouldn’t have been able
to get at a lot of major universities that I was
thinking of attending>>EUGENE: I’ve sung praises about my high
school but I’m not sure that all of it was due
I do think that when you did badly in class, say, when you showed up without having done
the reading, you were made to feel as though you were failing
anyone besides yourself. You were failing your teacher, who frowned
at you, or you were failing your parents,
who clucked at you and waved a finger when you brought home something lower than
an A. When you show up–the very FEW times that
I’ve shown up– at a Shimer class without having finished
the reading, I’ve never felt as if I’ve needed to be afraid
of telling the professor that. And I say that because I know that it’s not
the professor that I’m failing if I perform less well than
I want to at Shimer; it’s really me.
I feel like I’ve gotten more responsible at Shimer…
>>ALLIE: What I love best is that Shimer does a great job
of attracting people who are genuinely intellectually curious
not just people who are showing off for the professor
or trying to get a good grade, so conversations–this is, you know, cliche–
but they do continue outside of the classroom, or we’ll all be reading together, studying
together, and, you know, we just have to make a comment,
and then the reading group sort of turns into a mini-class, and you just find that
your ideas are better whetted and honed, once you finally get into the classroom.
>>ARI: I’m never allowed to be intellectually or thoughtfully lazy.
My comments are questioned and critiqued or explored by the people around me.
I also love the fact that my voice is a crucial part of this community,
both in the classroom and through school governance, through the Assembly,
and also through my extracurricular activities, considering that my life outside of Shimer
still heavily involves Shimer.>>AUBIN: I like that I know everyone.
I can walk in any room, point at every single person,
Say their names, first and last. I could know everyone’s personal philosophies,
first hand or offhand, anecdotes…>>SIMON: There’s something to be said for
going to a school where everybody you encounter knows
your name and, indeed, more than just your name about
you, but at the very least your name.
>>HOWARD: It’s nice to be able to talk about an idea that people
might not be immediately receptive about, but
at least they’ll give you a chance. They’ll open up their mind to it,
rather than being “Oh, no, that’s not really what I was talking about,
I’m talking about something else…”>>MICHAEL: The education really takes topics
that you’re discussing in class and topics that have nothing
to do with what you’re discussing in class and really expand on them in your own free
time so, you know, when you’re just hanging around
in the dorms or in one of the student lounges
and you just start talking to other students it’s really engaging conversation and
you can really approach anybody about anything and it’s a great feeling to just be able to
have stimulating conversation all the time.
>>MARIELLE: I really like the core curriculum. I like being in the same boat with everyone
else. I like … I don’t think that the community
is the reason that I came here but it’s a big part of the reason that I’ve
stayed. I think that the faculty are incredible–
they are personally invested in every student that they teach and
that’s not something, I think, you find anyplace else.
>>KIERAN: The free lunches? No. It would be really hard to pinpoint one thing
about Shimer–it’s really a culture unto itself, and the whole culture of inquiry and discussion
pervades the college, and that’s really what I love
about the college–is that it’s not just a place you go
to cram your head full of ideas–that’s part of it–
but it’s really a culture of learning and discovery.