It’s hard to believe, but I’m at the halfway point of the semester already. As part of my training, I’ve been taking Shimer College’s Natural Sciences 1, The Laws and Models of Chemistry. It seems unlikely that I’ll be teaching it any time soon, but I wanted to see how Shimer’s Great Books approach works with a hard science class — and so far, I think it has much to recommend it.
Basically, it seems that the trade-off compared to a traditional science course is that you get a lot less information about the current state of science and a lot less practice in the technical ins-and-outs of skills like balancing chemical equations, operating lab equipment, etc. — but you get a lot better understanding of the problems scientists (both pre-modern and modern) have grappled with in trying to get some kind of handle of “what stuff is made of” and a much more vivid grasp of the basic principles that are discussed.