Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Learning to Read

I loved this article in the New Yorker by Salvatore Scibona, How I Learned to Read. He writes about how he went to a unique college in New Mexico, St. John’s College where they focus on the classics. (Anybody heard of this place?)

Got me thinking about where I learned to read... I read a lot when I was a kid and just about anything I could get my hands on. I wasn't really a critical reader 'til about grad school, though (hence my love of Ayn Rand in high school*).

From How I Learned to Read:

By senior year at St. John’s, we were reading Einstein in math, Darwin in lab, Baudelaire in French tutorial, Hegel in seminar. Seminar met twice a week for four years: eight o’clock to ten at night or later, all students addressed by surname. On weekends, I hung out with my friends. The surprise, the wild luck: I had friends. One sat in my room with a beer and “The Phenomenology of Spirit,” reading out a sentence at a time and stopping to ask, “All right, what did that mean?” The gravity of the whole thing would have been laughable if it hadn’t been so much fun, and if it hadn’t been such a gift to find my tribe.

In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to their school and showed me how to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy.



1 comment:

KHM said...

I hope, hope, hope one of my daughters will choose to attend St. John's Annapolis campus. I wish I had. Doesn't it sound amazingly romantic?