How would you summarize the St. John’s approach to teaching or leading seminar discussions? What is distinctive about it?
What do you think about the St. John’s approach to leading seminar discussions? What do you consider its strengths? What do you note as potential weaknesses?
Eva Brann says teachers should neither make things too easy nor too hard for students—we shouldn’t make them any way at all. Instead, we should allow the students to ask the questions. What do you think about this idea? How would it work? How practical would it be to do consistently in your classroom?
Brann says that often people think it’s indecent to ask if the text they’re studying is true. What stance does your school culture or school statement of philosophy take on this issue, especially if it is a widely accepted belief? How do you handle student (or faculty or parent) questions of whether something truly fits the ideal of truth, goodness, and beauty?
Brann recommends that younger children be allowed to follow their interests only for a period, and to be immersed in the arts (poetry, drama, music, fiction). How does she see that impacting their imaginations and thus their education when they are older?
What do you think of the St. John’s College practice of not giving out grades—students have to ask for them? What about their don rags? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?
Brann gives a little twist to the idea of scholé for adults, that having a good education makes us better able to cope wisely with what to do in our leisure time. What do you think of this insight? Can such a habit tie in with learning in a restful way when a person is younger?
The Odyssey and The Iliad by Homer
On Teaching by Augustine
The Republic by Plato
Politics by Aristotle
Emile by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Tending to the Heart of Virtue by Vigan Guroian
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