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[personal profile] apolliana
Despite the apparent democracy of its classes, St. John's is a strikingly non-transparent place. The curriculum is handed down from on high. The educational objectives are completely undetermined. No explanations of why things are important, or what you should be getting from them, are ever given. This sounds great, in theory. But in my case it led to paranoia: am I finding what I should be finding in these things? And to obsessive attempts at pattern-recognition, at discerning what the guiding intentions were behind the arrangement of the Program.

This contributes all the more to students' paranoia about their own performance. The grading system is--because unspoken--also vague and various. It's harder to know when you're doing well when you have no idea what that would mean.

The College thus takes on characteristics of a religion. It inspires simultaneously doubt about one's own worthiness and about whether what the College requires of one to be worthy--whatever it is--is right. Perhaps this is part of what has made me obsessed with trust issues for much of my adult life. This is also why the College reminds me of The Village from The Prisoner, despite being intended to be the paragon and training ground of democracy.

In past years, I've moved on from the things in my life I believed in that required me to trust them in ways I found difficult. I'm much happier, and don't miss them. Perhaps it's a worthwhile experience to have, but on the whole, if something requires trust to the degree that constant self-doubt is inspired, I would avoid it.


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