Sunday, July 28, 2013

Comments from IIT students about Shimer College

Just came across this (PDF) in a bit of casual Googling; seems like something the readers of this blog might enjoy:

 The experience I had at Shimer College was awesome. Being able to be in a small classroom of only 7 students and to be encouraged to discuss differing opinions and views was great. While the professor did prod the conversations and sometimes had to ensure that everybody got a chance to speak the class was largely student run. The opportunity to openly discuss current issues and to learn about how an organization might deal with them was very interesting and insightful for a student of Biomedical Engineering.

While IIT has a diverse student population, meeting and working with students from Shimer College also opened me up to new experiences. While engineering students are often taught how to master logic and the working out perfect solutions; Shimer students are taught to take any idea, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, and run with it to see where it might take them.

I am very happy to have received my degree from IIT, however, the opportunity to work with Shimer College faculty and learn in their classroom environment made my education more valuable because learning will never stop and if you only have one way to learn then you will be severely limiting your growth in the future.

 I took a film class at Shimer, which I would highly recommend. There were never any lectures like in most IIT courses-- all discussions were student-led. The small class size led to very thoughtful discussions. Also, I got to meet a new group of students I would otherwise have never met, and have remained friends with some of them.
Shimerians are completely different from most IIT students, and I wanted to meet them. I also wanted to experience a rigorous and discussion-based approach to literature. I understood before taking the class that there would be a lot of reading, a lot of writing papers, but most of all a lot of talking in class, and I wanted to expand my worldview in this way. When I took this class, I realized that the Shimer floor was very home-y and that students not only took classes there, they could recognize by sight and name everyone in the building, which was a completely foreign experience to me, and very pleasant.

The Shimerian approach to discourse is sometimes abrasive and very often goes off on diversions that I would never have thought of. I developed my skills of argument to a much higher level than I ever would have without that class. I also read some interesting works by ancient writers that I had never heard of before. During the paper revision process, I learned the Shimerian way of improving a paper- i.e. to completely demolish it and then build it back up again with a much better understanding of what it should be.

Shimerians are aggressively literate and they in general enjoy examining concepts from all sides, playing devil's advocate, and making elaborate logic structures in order to make points. I believe that taking a Shimer class can help IIT students to open their minds to the concept that the war of words is challenging, and not just what people who can't do engineering have to resort to.

(Also relevant.)

No comments :