A theory of everything in 250 words or fewer

I’ve written seven essays this week, and the magical word count is 250. Anything over gets cut. Topics range from literature to reporting to press conferences to someone of influence. The unifying theme seems to be: How much can you say in as little space as possible?

That theme is not confined to student writing assignments. The Institute practices what it preaches.

In three days I’ve heard (again) the story of W.H. Auden’s conversion to Christianity, a treatise on art and faith and an impromptu lesson on the history of jazz with a live performance. As part of a three-hour lecture on the history of the American educational system at large, our class experienced a dramatic recitation of Wordsworth – possibly my least favorite poet – and an exposition of the merits of the phonetic method to teach reading. Yesterday we spent six hours learning some basic steps in computer-assisted reporting (otherwise known as playing with spreadsheets to look for news).

I’ve come closer to pulling all-nighters in the last four days than I did during the last semester at Wheaton; a relaxing summer vacation activity this is not. But so far it’s been informative and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the next two weeks.

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