valuable feature of our Great Books Program is that it has two
teachers/moderators in the classroom. This naturally
enriches the learning experience for our students as they receive
the benefit of a broader pool of understanding, wisdom, and
In addition, the teachers'
conversation with one another during classes is a benefit to the
students as it exposes them to perspective, insight, and nuance
that is missing with a single teacher in the classroom. The
very friendship of the teachers enriches the classroom, as well.
Ph.D. Philosophy of Education, Kansas University
Jim has been a teacher for thirty years, mainly in
the humanities. He has taught high school, college and
graduate school using literature and the Great Books to
form the reading for history and philosophy of education.
He was associate professor and chairman of the Teacher
Education Program at Hillsdale College, Michigan; and,
more recently assistant professor of education at the
University of Tulsa. He is the author of the wonderful
book Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education.
For the past ten years he has worked in our Great Books Program.
Curtis holds the Joseph M. Freeman Chair of Philosophy at
Rockhurst University. Curtis has authored four books of
philosophy; twenty-two published philosophical articles
and co-authored two novels. Dr. Hancock is a Director of
The Great Books Academy and works in our Great Books
Ph. D., Full Professor of Philosophy, St. John's
University, Staten Island, New York.
Dr. Redpath has received numerous awards
and honors for his work in philosophy; was elected to the
Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced
Philosophical Research in 1988; has made over 70 public
program appearances on philosophical topics; has authored
numerous books, monographs, and published articles. He has
edited two philosophy books. He is a member of the Board
of Editors of Editions Rodopi. Peter works with our high
school Great Books students. To visit his website
Ph.D. Literature and Politics, University of Dallas.
Bob has taught at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy;
the University of San Francisco, California; College of
Notre Dame, California; and at Magdelan College, New
Hampshire, where he often moderated Great Books discussion
groups. He currently teaches at the University of Dallas.
B.B.A., J.D., University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City
After earning his Juris Doctorate, Pat completed numerous
additional courses in psychology and philosophy. A former
Administrative Law Judge at the Oklahoma Corporation
Commission, member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, former
Chairman of the International Caspian Society, and
President of a non-profit educational foundation, Pat
lives with his wife Elisabeth and their four home schooled
children on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Pat moderated
the first live-audio Socratic groups online (2000) and
numerous online groups since, as well as a Great Books
evening program in Seattle, WA.
Director, Great Books Discussions
Steve speaks at education conferences throughout the
country and serves on the boards of non-profit educational
and arts organizations. Steve was one of the pioneers of
live-audio online Socratic discussion groups. He lives
with his family in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains
in Washington State. He works with our students in 3rd
grade through high school and with adult groups, as
Perhaps the most important
element of a successful discussion group is the moderator.
That does not mean that the moderator is necessarily the most
often heard member of the group. What it does mean is that he
has more responsibility than the other members.
While Socratic discussion is a cooperative learning experience
and everyone is encouraged to offer the group the benefit of
his thoughts, opinions, and emotions [yes - emotions]
regarding the text under discussion, it is the moderator who
has his hand on the tiller and is charged with the task of
keeping the group moving within the most favorable winds of
conversation. At times the moderator is searching for those
winds, at times he is negotiating crosscurrents and attempting
to keep on a course that offers progress despite some rough
going. There are times when a hint or edge of a breeze appears
and he must rely on experience and intuition to find the heart
of that breeze and capture some of its power.
All winds die at some point, or change direction. What then?
Sometimes the best thing to do is to drop anchor and linger
for a while. And with that we will end what is becoming a
frayed metaphor. We could have mentioned rocky shores,
undercurrents, riptides, hidden reefs, hurricanes, and even
pirates. But, enough.
So. How does one characterize the work of a moderator? Is it
an art or a science? Both? And what does it take to be a good
Socratic discussion group moderator?
Well, we will here mention only two aspects of the work. From
our point of view a good moderator recognizes that education
is more than simply an intellectual exercise. This is so
because a human being is more than just an intellect. He has
passions, emotions, and appetites. He is an integrated being
whose natural end is to be happy, to have a good life. In
regard to education this means, at a minimum, that the end of
education is not simply the acquisition of information. So
texts are not approached primarily as deposits of information
to be mined. It is wisdom that is sought.
In addition, a good moderator must also want to be with the
students. Dare we say that, to be excellent at his work, he
must love the students? We think so.
that has been clear as Brian has taken his SAT tests and
prepared his college applications is that Brian has particular
(Literature, writing, etc.) that are directly traceable to his
study of the
Great Books and his participation in the Great Books Program.
This program has been a real blessing for us."...C.D.