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In Praise of Humility

I have been reading The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols. Nichols bemoans how many children are coddled by their parents, their high schools, and finally by their colleges. They go out into the world knowing everything and believing their opinions are as good as anyone’s on all subjects. They don’t learn because they don’t think they need to. In 1984, I was that child.

Then I took The Roman Republic. Professor William Turpin’s comments on my first paper were longer than the sad submission itself. His prodigious criticisms convinced me that he knew his stuff and that he cared. I learned something about Roman history, and my writing got slightly better. I barely passed the class.

I entered Swarthmore as a boy genius and blowhard. I left the man I am today. I’m an avid learner, secure in the knowledge that the vastness of my ignorance will always dwarf my small islands of expertise.

I graduated with humility.

—JACK KLIEVER ’88, Wickford, R.I.