Too many college courses today consist of in-class lectures based on reading assignments from expensive and quickly outdated textbooks. Often the information in the textbook is simply regurgitated in the lecture, thus making the course content frustratingly redundant. The textbooks themselves summarize information that was first articulated in more nuanced and difficult primary sources. At the end of the course, the students take a test on the material covered in the lecture and the textbook, and their ability to recall information on the test determines their grade in the class. This results in students whose main skill is short-term memorization of second-hand information.
The College at Saint Constantine approaches class differently. All of the class time in our core Great Texts Tutorials is dedicated to in-depth Socratic discussion of key primary sources from world history. The readings proceed chronologically from the classics of the Ancient Middle East, Greece, and Rome through Late Antiquity and the Medieval World to the Modern Era. Students grapple first hand with the great ideas and stories that have shaped the contemporary world. In discussion they are challenged by their peers and professors to articulate what they think about these texts and why. Over time, they build a community of reading, discussion, and scholarship that encourages rigorous preparation for class discussions and learning to speak the truth in love concerning the most important questions that humanity has ever faced: questions of ethics, politics, religion, and human relationships. We do not have time to waste on second-hand ideas watered down and soon forgotten. The great thinkers, teachers, and justice-seekers of the ages await our engagement, and at the College at Saint Constantine, we rise to meet them.
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