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Stuck in the 18th Century: New Saint Andrews College

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Having a hard time getting through those 50 pages of English Lit? Imagine if you had 1,000 pages to read. Every week. And it was in Latin.

Students at the tiny New Saint Andrews College in Idaho are saddled with assignments like that throughout their college career, and none of them are complaining.

Modern and ancient at the same time, Saint Andrews is relatively new, with a large percentage of enrollment from home-schoolers and a small, carefully selected student body. The actual age of the Idaho college has nothing to do with it’s classes, however, since N.S.A. aims to teach “classical Christian education”.

Besides required coursework in Latin and Greek,” the New York Times reports, “students at N.S.A. study natural philosophy (mostly taxonomy and creationist science), the Western literary canon, Euclidean geometry and theology; they also practice public speaking at a weekly declamation.”

According to one alumnus, the students and professors at New Saint Andrews “want to be medieval Protestants.”

Uh, okay.

While N.S.A claims to have no political affiliations or motives (even proudly announcing that their campus is wet: i.e, drinking is okay), many of the liberals of Moscow, Idaho don’t appreciate the college’s presence; Creationist science and 18th century ideals sort of stick out in an open-minded college town (the much larger and publicly funded University of Idaho also resides in Moscow).

Because many of the professors at N.S.A are graduates of the school themselves who sometimes lack a PhD, and Darwin’s theories are hardly touched, critics of the college fear that students aren’t being pushed to think outside their box. If everyone believes the same thing, critics wonder, how is anyone ever going to develop an original thought pattern?

Addressing opponents of the school’s narrow worldview, one student explains, “Some call it a straitjacket — I prefer to think of it as a nicely fitted suit.”

Can that quote please go in the dictionary with the word “brainwashed”?

Personally, I’m often weary of any religious extremism; be it the kind that preaches violence, or the kind that simply disregards non-believers. A restrictive worldview can only hurt in the long run, especially when that worldview downplays the need for creative thinking.

Besides, how far can one really go in 2007 accepting Creationism and spending hours on Euclidean geometry?

…then again, we have a president who probably totally believes in the first thing and probably has no idea what the second thing even is. So, nevermind.

COLLEGECANDY Writer