Mary Rose wrote this letter to her family, and since it describes life at TAC, I asked her if I could post it on my blog.

“So, the campus has been hit with the flu.
At least, it will be once I get done with it, since the flu has kindly started with me. I am currently doing my part to benevolently spread germs to the dorm computers. Anyway, having been in bed the past two days I am horribly bored and have decided to give my dear family a summary of this semester's classes, now that finals are almost here(eek!) So, beginning with the Queen of the Sciences:

THEOLOGY: 3 hours a week of unlearning everything you ever thought you know. Take 17 people who think they know the Bible and their faith and make them think about the Old Testament for a while-- all of it. Ask at least once a class, "So, why did God do that?" Watch them flounder for an explanation as they try to reconcile the nice bearded man who sits on clouds with the God who calls an entire unwitting assembly of blasphemers together, with incense, so he can blast them all at once. Bam- you've got Freshman Theology, also known as a massive headache.
I'm told by upperclassmen that it doesn't stop, especially when we get to Augustine and predestination next year...oy.
Sadly, in my section, this class is also 3 hours a week of trying to simultaneously stay awake, participate in discussion, not hit your neighbor over the head with you bible when they hold their point too stubbornly, and survive Mr. Paietta's puns. Very frustrating class, out of which I feel that I have gotten little.
Actually, that's the way it's supposed to be. It's not a real class. It's purpose is just to get you to read the Bible cover to cover, take notes, and get your history straight. That class really takes place in your independent study time, unlike the next class I'm going to summarize:

PHILOSOPHY- comparable only to aerobic exercize. Outside of class you futiley attempt to understand what Aristotle is saying, which is the equivalent of stretching most of muscle groups you will use. I say most because you always discover in class that you missed some word or letter or comma that is massively important to understanding the work. Then, you get to class, and the tutor leads you through increasingly difficult mental gyrations that leave your poor little intellect sweating and your mental heart(if I dare invent such a thing) pounding. However, after half a semester of these bi-weekly workouts, you find that you have some very nice intellectual muscles with which to bend such things as sentences(or rather, statements) and words(oops, names) into fully understood patterns. It also leaves you feeling a bit conspicuous, entering the non-liberal arts focused world as one of the few who is developing these muscles, like someone with amazingly toned toes. It's just not normal. You discover this as you sit in the airport, hearing some over-worked person announce to the entire airport that "the flight" was now boarding, and immediately begin to wonder if that flight was a particular, first substance flight, or a species of all flights in this airport(wouldn't that be nice! no more waiting!), or a genus of all flight, universally....and then realize that if you shared this musing with the person sitting next to you, they would give the weirdest look ever. Still, it's awesome to be able to have philosophical discussions with the vocabulary Aristotle provides, and even talk about Plato, that we studied at the beginning of the year, and talk about it in an entirely new way.

LABORATORY: For my section, 3 hours a week of training oneself to fall asleep with one's eyes open. My tutor, an absolute genius and the nicest man ever, is gifted with a very soothing voice--which must have been wonderful for calming down his many charming children, years ago before his youngest became the inspirational Head Prefect who will someday be Governor of California--that has the trick of shutting your eyes even as your mind works at double speed to comprehend the amazing things he's just said. We could get so far in that class if only we could stay awake! I'm told that once, when his entire section had fallen asleep, he stuck two pencils up his nose and waited calmly for someone to wake up and start laughing. He's acheived enough (like founding TAC!) in his long life that he apparently doesn't mind if we fall asleep, as long as we do well on the final.
As far as subject material goes...I have no clue. We've talked at length about instinct versus intellect, about the interwoven nature of ecosystems, and a good deal about evolution, but I haven't been able to pick up the overall theme of the class. I sure hope it's revealed sometime before the final in two weeks.

SEMINAR: Way too much fun. We read the greatest Ancient Greek literature ever and get to have hugely heated discussions about what the heck they meant. Analyzing literature is my favorite academic pursuit, so Seminar is one of my favorite classes. It's also the most torturous outside of class, though, because the readings are really, really, really long sometimes. We were told that at TAC we would be spending as much time preparing for each class as we spend in it. That's not true. We spend less time on some subjects, like Philosophy and Lab, and make up for by our 6-hour seminar readings.

MATHEMATICS: Again, way too much fun. Instead of having dry, pre-worked out formulas fed us to be regurgitated on tests, we are forced to discover the theorems for ourselves. I've already told you about how the props work, I think. A really fun way to learn props, that my friend Nick and I employ if we're silly enough to study together, is to look at what Euclid is going to prove and completely ignore how he did it, finding your own way. Once you've studied Euclid(or Pukey Euky, as we fondly call him) long enough, you can usually figure out what he's going to do. If you don't come up with the same method he did, you can research it and discover why his way is immensely superior, and marvel at your on comparative stupidity.

LANGUAGE: a union of fantastic grammatical/philosophical inquiry into the English language, and an absolute hell of trying to remember which darn ending is 3rd person plural indicative active in the stinking fourth conjugation. Fortunately, Daddy's genetic generosity (and Mommy's careful tutoring a really long time ago in the exact text book we'reusing!) gave me the ability to ace Latin if I study enough, and to scrape by with a D if I don't. Even more fortunately, I love my Language tutor dearly and wouldn't dissapoint him for the world, so I work hard. After all, if I dissapoint him, whose adorable children can I steal away from their equally wonderful mother?

Oy, okay, that's enough, I should go back to bed and stop infecting casual passersby with my evil flu germs. I should also find some Lysol(what I would give for Basic G!) to spray down everything I've touched.

~Mary Rose”

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