From: Who Killed The Liberal Arts (edited)
A great many of my fellow students in the College at the University of Chicago seemed to come from New York City, several others from academic families.
They appeared to have been reading the Nation and the New Republic from the age of 11.One morning in Elder Olson’s class in modern poetry, Olson began quoting Baudelaire and a student next to me, named Martha Silverman, joined him, in French, and together, in unison, the two of them chanted the poem to its conclusion.
This was one of those moments when I thought it perhaps a good time to look into career opportunities at Jiffy Lube.
“I invariably took the first rank in all discussions and exercises, whether public or private, as not only my teachers testified, but also the printed congratulations and carmina of my classmates.”
So wrote Leibniz about his own classroom performance.
Reverse everything Leibniz wrote and you have a fairly accurate picture of my classroom performance.
None among my teachers there ever suggested that I had intellectual promise. Nor should they have done, for I didn’t show any, not even to myself. I made no “A”s. I wrote no brilliant papers. I didn’t do especially well on exams. I was not quick in response in the classroom.