Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Junior Great Books

Back in August 2000, as we awaited the TCO for Trinity to open its doors for the very first day of school, Chris Weiss and I attended a workshop about teaching Junior Great Books using the Socratic method. Twelve years later, I am excited to be introducing your child to this amazing curriculum.  Junior Great Books is a collection of exceptional, thought-provoking short stories and fables. Interacting with these stories will help to develop our reading, writing, oral communication, and critical-thinking skills. The emphasis is on discussion, interpretation, and question asking. The primary goal is to teach students to read a text closely: recalling and organizing details from the story, drawing inferences, analyzing characters' motives, and finding the main idea of a passage or the text as a whole.  Students will read each story at least three times, elevating their understanding and thoughtfulness each time. Mr. Merritt and I guide the discussions using a shared inquiry approach. See the information below from The Junior Great Books website about this approach.

We are reading stories in small groups. Ask your child about "The Red Balloon" by Albert Lamorisse or "The Happy Lion" by Louise Fatio.


The goal of Great Books programs is to instill in adults and children the habits of mind that characterize self-reliant thinkers, readers, and learners. Great Books programs are predicated on the idea that everyone can read and understand excellent literature—literature that has the capacity to engage the whole person, the imagination as well as the intellect.

At the heart of all Great Books programs is Shared Inquiry, a distinctive method of learning in which participants search for answers to fundamental questions raised by a text.The success of Shared Inquiry depends on a special relationship between the leader and the group. Shared Inquiry leaders do not impart information or present their own opinions, but guide participants in reaching their own interpretations. They do this by posing thought-provoking questions and by following up purposefully on what participants say.
Shared Inquiry promotes civil discourse. In Shared Inquiry, participants learn to give full consideration to the ideas of others, to weigh the merits of opposing arguments, and to modify their initial opinions as the evidence demands. They gain experience in communicating complex ideas and in supporting, testing, and expanding their own thoughts. In this way, Shared Inquiry promotes thoughtful dialogue and open debate, preparing its participants to become able, responsible citizens, and enthusiastic, lifelong readers.