When King William Was King

St. John’s College is older than America.

In 1696, while still a Royal Colony of the English, Maryland opened King William’s School in its new capital of Annapolis. Similar to a prep school of today, this “free” school instructed the (male) children of the colonial elite in the standard education of the Europe of yesterday: the liberal arts. Sound familiar? While the flag, the demographics, and even the name (absorbed under the current moniker in 1784) have all changed, the traditional education that trains free thinkers hasn’t.

“The program that St. John’s has is the same concept that the educated folks in the English-speaking world had in the 18th century,” says Rod Cofield, AGI’08 and executive director of Historic London Town, a revitalized and renovated settlement dating from 1683. “They’d read philosophy in the morning, have debates at lunch, do random dissections of animals and things in the afternoon to understand how the natural world works….It gave me insight into how the folks I was researching and talking about in my museum career thought and believed the world operated.”

Hear more about how this alum went back in time to understand both the past and the present by reading Kimberly Uslin’s article.



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