23 March 2007

Johnnies vs. Mids (not croquet related)

This article describes a very interesting meeting of minds (undergraduate minds).

The Naval Academy, with 4,200 midshipmen, is famous for its leadership training, where students must apply philosophy and ethics to military situations.

St. John's, a college of only 525 students, is internationally acclaimed for its Great Books curriculum, in which all students spend four years reading the great Western thinkers.

Observers sometimes call the two schools "Athens and Sparta," for the philosophical bent of St. John's, and the warrior culture of the Naval Academy.

The two schools have been having an exchange to discuss philosophy of military action twice a year since 2003. I like the way that Johnnies are being shown that application of ideas is important, too.

"It was similar to our seminars, but it was different in that they (midshipmen) apply the philosophy to current events," said St. John's freshman Caity Swanson, of Clarksville, Tenn. "At St. John's, we just focus on what the readings say."

"We are taught to make decisions. When the mids talk, we all make statements; when the Johnnies talk, they all ask questions," Midshipman Moore said.

Well, Midshipmen Moore, asking questions is often a good way to learn, too.

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