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Dominion Blog

Engaging in the "Great Conversation" with "Great Books"

Posted by Matt Mitchell on Nov 5, 2021 10:22:01 AM

Today, we continue our discussion about classical education, turning attention to two phrases used frequently in classical schools: the "Great Books” and the "Great Conversation.”

 The "Great Books" leave the reader with a deeper understanding of God, humanity, and society. They convey and transmit the fundamental values of our Christian faith as well as our Western Heritage.  They promote truth, goodness, and beauty, and they act as a vehicle for the "Great Conversation” (a term coined by professor Robert M. Hutchins, who defines it as the ongoing dialogue and rich exchange of ideas regarding the deepest human questions).
There are objective standards of truth, goodness, and beauty, even if discerning them is sometimes a challenge. Classical schools offer students a feast of cumulative knowledge and wisdom passed down through the ages. They turn information and problems into questions and ideas. Classical schools place some of the best available and most significant historical, scientific, literary, artistic, and theological works into the hands of students.  Some "Great Books" are newer, expanding on ideas that have changed over time. Others have withstood the test of time - works of art, music, literature, or science that have served as the basis for well-educated human beings for centuries or millennia.
A classical classroom is not led by the adult who is present. Instead, students’ teachers are the likes of Bach and Handel, Aristotle and Augustine, Luther and Calvin, Herodotus and Homer, Kant and Rousseau, Michelangelo and Chaucer, Tolkien and L'Engle, Twain and Jefferson, Euclid and Newton, Edison andCopernicus. The teacher is a facilitator of “Great Conversations” that spring forth from “Great Books."

Would you like to learn more about classical schooling? Click on the Academics tab above for more information!