Carl Mueller ‘15
“The decision to come to Southwestern instead of attending a state school was due to the many opportunities that I was told were sure to present themselves. The immediate attraction was an average class size of 13 students, which would create a more interactive class and one in which the dynamics would not be preset, but instead molded by the collective personalities and work ethics of the students in the course. Although many of these beliefs and preconceived notions of Southwestern proved true, the epitome of them played itself out in a manner that I never even considered.
“I took five years of IB (International Baccalaureate) Spanish in middle and high school and assumed that I would place out of some courses and finish up my language requirements in as fast a manner as possible. I had always been told that Spanish was the best language to take because it offered many opportunities and was becoming increasingly relevant. I had always taken Spanish because it was expected of me and because it was the natural course of action, but upon arriving at Southwestern I began to question my course selection and realized that I was doing many things without reason or purpose. I decided to invest myself in the liberal arts system and turned to the studies of English, History, and Greek.
“Although I do not want to minimize the impact that English and History have had on me since my decision to study them thoroughly, it would be criminal to focus on anything but my study of Ancient Greek. Although the class started with 7 students, by the second semester there were only three of us, and we made an informal pact to make the class ours, to make it a class that would best utilize the size and our learning abilities. Since our decision to devote ourselves to an active and interactive learning style that enabled us to experience the language in a gritty and personal manner, our appreciation for Greek and our desire to better understand it has risen exponentially.
“Studying Ancient Greek has shown me the importance of the Classics and has re-emphasized the need for schools that enable you to study them. Although many seem to believe that the Classics have no inherent value, I have found them to be immensely relevant and directly related to the study of any other subject. It is preposterous to say that the Classics have no impact on current culture because that would be to say that the foundation serves no purpose for the uppermost levels of a structure. The Greek department at Southwestern has done what no other subject has been able to do by taking me back to the beginning. Not since early elementary school has a teacher been able to lay the foundation for my understanding of a subject, and in the intimate environment that Southwestern offers the professors have been able to make sure that the foundation is initially stable and are able to continually revisit and polish them.
“Somewhere along the educational evolution, the emphasis on the basics and fundamentals was lost. Concepts that were taught poorly and sometimes not taught at all in elementary school continue to haunt individuals into their college career. The Greek classes that I have participated in have taken me back to the fundamentals of language and have revealed a new importance, a whole other level of beauty in literature because it has encouraged me to take the time to pick away at the intricacies of language. The ingrained belief of many is that ancient languages are unable to make an impact in the present, to which I would say that while an ancient language can obviously not produce anything “new”, it can help peel back layers that you didn’t even know existed. This is not to say that the Classics are more important than other disciplines, but that they give every other field greater importance.
“In sum, I would like to reiterate the forgotten importance of the Classics, because I fear that so many are ignoring the ways in which they can further society. Apart from being an absolute wonder and joy in themselves, they perform the invaluable task of maximizing the importance of everything else. No matter where your area of interest lies, the Classics will help you get the most out of them.”