Discussion Principles

The Great Connections programs are quite different from most you might attend. We have very few lectures. Instead, we create seminar conversations between participants about readings, ideas, experiments, observations, values, activities in which reason and evidence combined with a careful consideration of other participants adds up to powerful, self-directed learning experiences.

Most of the time you will be actively involved in discussion. You will be expected to read all the texts or examine all the materials we are using in the seminar, come prepared to the session, and abide by our special discussion principles.

Our methods of discussion will significantly help you in learning to read and understand difficult texts or in any reading you later encounter, no matter the subject matter. By doing the reading and the discussion work, you will learn how to reason excellently and apply what you learn to your life; we guide and encourage to make “great connections” between ideas we’re learning and real life. We want to find out “If you lived by this idea, what would happen?” That’s in addition to learning much new information.

Students consistently applying this method have been measured to raise their cognitive skills by 20% to 85%.

Here are our discussion principles:

a. Each participant must bring their reading to all sessions, come to all of the sessions, arrive on time, and stay during the discussion unless he or she has an emergency.

b. Each participant prepares for the seminars during his or her individual time.

c. Participants must ask questions of the text and each other.

d. Participants must cite the text to give evidence for their ideas and interpretations.

e. Participants should try to make connections to previous sessions and to their lives.

f. Each person takes responsibility for his or her own learning and for the quality of the conversation.

g. Each person recognizes that Reason is the only authority in the discussion, which means that each person must offer facts and logic for his or her arguments; no one, not even the instructor, is an authority.

h. Each person treats the other participants respectfully.