Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Recent coverage of Shimer

A few days ago, Jon Ronson published a piece in the Guardian about Shimer. It may be the best and most Shimerian publicity that Shimer has ever received. You should read it.

The article was prompted by the pushback against the Washington Monthly's recent rating of Shimer as "worst college in America" for a certain set of criteria (which are worthy of separate discussion). Since nobody was coming out of the woodwork to defend any of the other "worst colleges," Ronson decided to visit Shimer to find out what it was all about.

What happened next was kind of epic.

I get talking to Albert Fernandez, a professor of cultural history and humanities. He has the intense demeanor and indeterminate European accent of a Slavoj Žižek. He leads me into a classroom as austere as he is and tells me how angry he is about the list.

“What we do at Shimer,” he says, “is difficult. It’s difficult to sit in a small room with six or eight students and have your beliefs challenged. If a school is hard to graduate from for reasons to do with an attempt at educational quality – that should be taken into account. The writer said nothing about that.”

A look of fury crosses his face, at the thought of Shimer being penalized for what makes it great. He says a lot of places that top those best colleges lists are the opposite of difficult. They’re undemanding. “If you’re going to take education seriously you can’t have a system where the objective is to make it as easy as possible to get through.”

At this writing, the article has received more than 14,000 interactions on social media, including more than 900 Tweets and more than 140 LinkedIn shares. The article itself has 343 comments, which are also well worth reading.

For a time it was the Guardian's #3 article sitewide:

The article was tweeted by Neil Gaiman (he of 2.1 million Twitter followers), who followed up with a personal greeting to the people of Shimer:

The article has since been picked up by Longreads, The Baffler, Gapers Block and others, and is continuing to spread. At this writing, some 4 days after it was posted, new tweets of the article are still coming in at about 3-5 per hour.

Here are some notable response pieces by Shimerians and others:

... and on the matter of response pieces: although unworthy of a link, one of our old friends from 2010 is apparently still nursing old grudges:

If Joe Bast is still mad at Shimer, we must be doing something right.

Please share the Ronson article with anyone you think might be interested in Shimer!

(updated to include new response pieces -- December 18, 2014)

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