St. John's mission is to teach thoughtB. Meredith Burke...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 16, 1999

St. John's mission is to teach thought

B. Meredith Burke wrote about how important a classic liberal arts education is to sustaining a sense of what defines the common good for our society ("Finding our common thread," July 11).

The University of Chicago, in proposing to cut its core curriculum, might be accused of lessening the strength of the ties that hold us all together culturally and politically. The university is responding to marketing pressures and fears that the required courses are turning students off.

But St. John's College (in Annapolis and Santa Fe) has found that its classic curriculum, mostly unchanged over the past 60 years, is increasing in popularity -- applications are up this year by more than 35 percent.

St. John's has not compromised its study of our society's common knowledge; the four-year, all-required curriculum focuses on the great books of the Western tradition, which presents the history and thought, documents and values that have formed and inform American society.

Ms. Burke, a graduate of St. John's, did a good job of justifying how a seemingly archaic method of education -- one that deals with mostly dead white males and offers little in the way of choice -- is the most contemporary possible.

One key to the popularity of the St. John's program is probably that we don't tell anyone what to think. Students read the books, study them and discuss them with faculty and other students. They take responsibility for their own education, just as in the "real world," where they will take responsibility for their own actions, thoughts and decisions. That's the kind of thing that keeps democracy going.

Barbara Goyette, Annapolis

The writer is communications director at St. John's College.

Skeptical of polls, answers on Clinton

If recent polls showing support for President Clinton are accurate, I have a few questions: Who is being polled; how are the questions phrased; how are the results manipulated; and are the respondents people who vote?

It appears, according to these polls, most people do not want to see Mr. Clinton removed from office. Perhaps respondents should be asked whether they view Mr. Clinton as a celebrity or as the leader of the free world.

I believe that the people interviewed equate Mr. Clinton with Michael Douglas, John Travolta, Harrison Ford or, even, Hugh Grant.

It's time for Americans to wake up. President Clinton should be removed from office, if he doesn't have the grace and dignity to resign because he is a liar, not a matinee idol.

Dolores Groppe, Timonium

The numbers in Clinton's corner

The stock market bull is leveling everything in its path.

The real estate market is for real as more Americans are becoming homeowners.

Unemployment is at a 29-year low.

The job market is the strongest during peacetime in 41 years.

Since 1993, more than 13 million new jobs have been added to the workforce.

Car dealers are reporting sales beyond their expectations because of gains in consumer purchasing power.

Commercial and housing construction boasts of a sixth consecutive increase in as many months.

More workers are enjoying a rise in hourly wages.

And the economy is still roaring ahead.

Why would anyone say President Clinton is "ineffective"?

Leon Peace Ried, Baltimore

Lot of spare time to deal with Clinton

We are being assured that our nation's business is being attended to, despite the preoccupation by our legislators, for more than a year, with the Clinton scandal.

If the assurances by impeachment advocates are true, the House and Senate must have an inordinate amount of free time when things are normal. Or they are doing what they are accusing the president of -- lying through their teeth?

Stanley Oring, Pikesville

Can't believe Clinton after reading him

After a year of reading the president's testimony, I find it difficult to believe one word he says on any subject.

Alban R. Clautice, Baltlimore

Tax could lessen our health care burden

I write in response to the letter from Phillip A. Thayer ("Olympian can't appreciate plight of poor adult smokers," Jan. 7) regarding Tara Lipinski's endorsement of increasing the tobacco tax.

Yes, the tax would apply to poor working adults as well as teen-agers.

But the tax would also apply to rich working adults, poor nonworking adults and members of any other socioeconomic group who feel it to be their inalienable right to purchase and consume that poisonous product.

They probably also feel it to be their right to the best health care available, oblivious to who will shell out the big-time dollars when those smoking-related health problems arise.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer and is responsible for oral, throat, esophageal, kidney and bladder cancers. It is a leading cause of premature births, contributes to miscarriages and doubles the chance of heart attack.

JoAnn Ferrer, Towson

Americans exploited Cubans for property

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