Saturday, May 16, 2009

Alexandria Tutorials

    I'm very thankful for the Great Books tutorial I took this year. In all, we read six books: The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Last Days of Socrates, The Three Theban Plays, The Rise and Fall of Athens, And Herodotus. I'm actually finishing Herodotus' Histories this week, but I consider it pretty much done.
    My favorite would have to be the Iliad, because it made me want to cry (Not in frustration.) I know very well why it moved me, but it still amazes me how such a gory book could have such a human element.

   To be honest, the books were not always fun to read. But I wouldn't have changed a thing about my reading list, except maybe add more books. I loved the books I read. Not because they were page-turners, but because I came to respect them as the mighty tomes that played an enormous part in shaping Western Civilization. They challenged me to think, and forced me to concentrate. Last summer when I picked up the Iliad, in anticipation for my upcoming class in September, I could barely read it. The language was so odd, and the format so complicated. After a while though, it became easier. Names became more familiar, and by the end I felt as if I'd read a real story, instead of a jumble of poetic verses.

     After each book, all the students were required to write a paper. For me, the most difficult book to write a paper on was undoubtedly Plato's Dialogues, contained in The Last Days Of Socrates. This was not easy, but after two and a half days of arguing the pros and cons of various theses with my mom, I finally turned in the paper. I'm convinced I couldn't have done it without her advice and help. Ever since that paper, I've considered myself a recovering perfectionist. My experience writing about Plato effectively illustrated that quote by Samuel Johnson, "It sometimes happens that too close an attention to minute exactness, or a too rigorous habit of examining every thing by the standard of perfection, vitiates the temper rather than improves the understanding, and teaches the mind to discern faults with unhappy penetration."

I met quite a few new people in my tutorial, and am looking forward to going back next year. Thank you, Alexandria Tutorials.

I'm looking forward to making a reading list for this summer- sometimes I feel buried in books that I want to read badly, but that just don't get read. But then again, I've produced 688 Twitter updates since January, so perhaps I have no right to make excuses:)


Ellie Snider said...

I know what you mean by a "recovering perfectionist" I alwasy had a big battle with myself right before I posted them on the GBT site for all to see because it seemed like I could never make them how I wanted them to be!! I REALLY enjoyed reading the Iliad as well! That's on my top five favorite books list!

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Turnbull would enjoy this post...:) I like your Samuel Johnson quote..very apt! Reminds me of a quote I have to repeat over and over every time I paint/decorate/sew something- "It doesn't have to perfect to be beautiful! " - The Nester.


Elizabeth J. said...

Sometimes I find those types of books to be a bit more difficult to read but they're always worth reading. I have read some of the Illiad for my homeschool and I liked the story pretty well.