At Shimer, Students Still Read Great Books | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

At Shimer, Students Still Read Great Books

College is more expensive than ever, and students want to make sure they’re learning marketable skills for the workforce.

In suburban Naperville, students learn critical thinking and writing skills at Shimer Great Books School at North Central College — one of a handful of schools with great books programs.

At Shimer, everyone reads and discusses the same set of texts. Less than 100 people were enrolled in 2014, down to fewer than 25 students today.

Stuart Patterson and Sophie Juhlin of Shimer join the Morning Shift to talk about the school’s curriculum and what makes something part of the canon of great books.

On small classes at Shimer

Sophie Juhlin: When you’re sitting at a round table with a few other students and a book in front of you, and no assignment, just the book, it really becomes essential to speak up and defend what you read. And I think that’s really what I was looking for in an education  not being able to hide.

On what makes it into the “canon” of great books

Stuart Patterson: About every ten years the faculty at Shimer reviews the curriculum, sees what’s working and what isn’t, whether there are gaps in what kinds of conversations we’re having and whether we need to fill them….We’ve inherited a Western traditional canon, but I think these days we can say that the canon we’re developing now among the faculty is really a worldwide, multicultural, multi-traditional canon.

GUEST: Stuart Patterson, chair of Shimer Great Books Program at North Central College

Sophie Juhlin, third-year student majoring in humanities at Shimer Great Books Program at North Central College

LEARN MORE: Shimer Great Books School’s website

Shimer College Leaves the South Side (South Side Weekly 5/15/18)

Shimer College: the worst school in America? (The Guardian 12/6/14)

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