College 2.0


I’m back in school! Yep, at UPenn. I’m taking Greek & Roman Mythology with Professor Peter Struck.

No, I haven’t quit my job and moved back to Philly. I’ve become part of the grand experiment that many universities are collaborating on– free, mass-market education via the internet. I’m part of a 1.35 million student body that is taking courses from interesting professors from some of the most highly competitive brick and mortar universities. My mythology class has nearly 50,000 students.

Why am I doing this? During my stint at Penn I believe I took all the classics classes available in translation. I could not go any further without learning either ancient Greek or Latin. My H.S. Latin was serviceable–but not good enough for university-level work.

But to be honest, the real reason I am trying out this course is to feel a little better about myself as a student. I was never a good student. I was able to get good enough grades to get into an excellent college, but once there I never really committed myself to rigorous study. The freedom to pursue “wine, women and song” derailed any serious attempt at scholarship. I was living proof of the continued existence of the “Gentleman’s C” in the Ivy League during the 1980’s.

So now I have a second chance. Instead of competing with hangovers and lack of sleep, my studying will be competing with work and family life. The lack of sleep is still there, but for different reasons. I have a great ally in my current go-round in academia. The internet was just a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye when I went to college for the first time. I’m amazed that I could produce any form of coherent writing at all on an old Smith Corolla, typing away at my top speed of 15 minutes a page.

The advent of Google is the reason I will forestall senility for many years. Type anything remotely describing the idea, person or thought you just can’t remember into the austere box on the plain white page . . . and bingo, you’re a genius! Just now, my best friend Wikipedia told me that the “wine, women and song” formulation I used earlier in this post is called a “hendiatris,” a figure of speech whose name is derived from the Greeks. The three separate items strung together are an attempt to convey a single concept–in this case, hedonism. This was a common rhetorical strategy used by the Roman orator and philosopher Cicero.

So–Hurrah for the Red and The Blue! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few class lectures to catch up on! I guess some things don’t change. Seven lectures during week one and I’ve only watched 2. Quiz on Sunday!

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