It’s New Student Orientation, and earlier today I had the pleasure of meeting students assigned to my Great Book I sections, plus their parents in a separate meeting. I showed both groups the following video about the same class a year ago.
I hope you’ll get a kick watching even though (or because) it highlights activities other than discussion, which constituted the bulk of class time. “I love the discussion that occurs in this class,” wrote a student in the course evaluation, “This class is essentially many intelligent people gathering to discuss ideas and perspectives.”
Writing, both formal and informal, may account for two-thirds of the overall grade. But as the student correctly points out, discussion is at the heart of this colloquium. I’d only add that “intelligent” doesn’t mean elitism. There is something to be said about Plato’s belief that knowledge is inherent in the soul, which needs awakening (and the Socratic method) to get it going. Then there is the communal context of learning, and both sections set a high standard as learning communities.
For some of the photos and clips, appreciation goes to my students Gabby Robison, Katrina Winnett, and Irene Chun – the last one also for her technical expertise.