This week, my blog post is a reflection on how the independent study has gone so far. My next post will be about my deeper exploration of Plato’s philosophy over the past two weeks.
I am extremely happy with how my independent study has gone so far. It has exceeded my (already very high) expectations both for how much I would learn and how much fun I would have. Overall, I think I have closely followed my initial proposal. Over the summer, I finished exactly the amount of Greek I planned to, the two-part introductory Greek textbook Athenaze. It took a tremendous amount of time to learn the language, but this was absolutely worth it, as both the process itself and the reward of reading the original text of Plato’s Republic have been incredible. Since then, I have stuck mostly to my original plan. The one modification is that I have been reading Book I of The Republic in Greek, while I initially planned to read Book VIII in Greek. This is because the text I found for Book I has much better commentary for a beginner/intermediate reader. However, I am still focusing my study of Plato’s political theory on Book VIII, which I have read in English, and I will additionally read key passages from it in Greek.
Practically all aspects of my study have been fascinating and exciting. Learning Greek over the summer was one of the most engaging intellectual experiences of my life, and my level of enjoyment has not decreased since. I am very happy with my ability to translate Greek, and I think it is improving every week. Even though it is of course much slower than reading Latin, I have found it a steady, manageable, and always extremely fun process. The same goes for reading Plato in English. The text is dense with complicated information, but not beyond my ability to comprehend, and I have found Plato’s ideas about governmental structure and decay fascinating. In the past two weeks, as I have been diving deep into his philosophy on these concepts, on which my study is primarily focused, I have been writing down my questions in a Google document. This has helped me generate many possible ideas for final paper topics, and I will continually refer and add to it as I read more Plato and eventually Cicero.
My time management and the general logistics of the course have been good, though not perfect, so far. Between my Greek and English reading, I have been meeting the 5-7 hour expectation. Each week, I have a meeting with Dr. Monahan on Day 1, during which we talk about the concepts I’ve learned in Plato and, if we have time, read some Greek together. This gives me the rest of the school week and weekend to complete my work. I have tried to distribute it somewhat evenly throughout the week, but I’ve noticed that I have ended up doing much of it on the weekends. I don’t think this is necessarily a major problem, especially since I at least spread that work throughout various sessions during the weekend, but I would ideally like to spend more time during the school week.
Overall, I feel great about how the study is going and have high hopes for its future. There are of course many challenges, but ones that are helping me grow intellectually and as a manager of my learning, and they are matched by many equally important successes.