Great conversations about the Great Conversation:
How to develop an understanding of a Socratic Seminar as it ought to be.
“Bury me on my head, for very soon this world will be turned upside down.” -Diogenes the Cynic
Since the Garden, there has been a tension between those who love wisdom and those who think they are wise. It is a perennial confusion. However, we are in a unique time when the upside down is overwhelmingly considered to be right side up. Recognizing the vertigo of this age would be like a fish discovering water.
We might be inclined to believe that we be trained to develop Socratic Seminars in the home and then all in attendance can begin the practice. This would be a great mistake.
Over the three weeks of Spring Training, our goal will be to develop an understanding of three vital categories:
It is only with a recovery of the true sense of all three that we can have an authentic experience of great conversations in the home.
Learning the art of conversation is not picking up a few tips and tricks. It is reigniting the love and pursuit of reality, truth, and wisdom. Without the fundamentals in place, the hacks get us nowhere.
We want to do just that and we want to invite you to do that with us!
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg has been a school teacher for 30 years. He has taught nearly every grade from Kindergarten through 12th grade and currently teaches logic and the humanities at John Adams Academy, a classical school with a mission is to restore America’s heritage. Steven is on the Teacher Advisory Committee at the Sophia Institute Press for Teachers where he writes curriculum. He is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. He was a senior contributor at The Imaginative Conservative from 2013-2019 and has published articles for many online publications including Crisis Magazine, Catholic Exchange, The Imaginative Conservative and The Integrated Catholic Life. He writes and speaks on matters of faith, culture and education. Steven’s favorite undeserved honor was being included in a short list of national pro-life leaders by the Cardinal Newman Society. His primary mission in education is to help to reform America’s schools such that they become the intellectual and humane formation they once were in the form according to the Great Western Tradition.
In May, Steven will lead us through a down-to-earth and practical, yet informed and wisdom-oriented, series of 3 seminars designed to help us lay-educators improve our conversation not only generally and broadly, but specifically with our children about what they’ve been reading.
- Session 1: Science, Souls, & Synthesis: Recovering Reality
May 11, 2020, 5pm Pacific
Without a grasp of what is real, conversation is doomed. We are in dire need of a recovery of true science as a prerequisite to having great conversations. Comparing two incompatible worldviews, we will see the shocking truth that many unwittingly try to make a hybrid and disintegration inevitably follows.
- Session 2: Art, Arete, & Action: Loving Language
May 18, 2020, 5pm Pacific
Literacy is an art, essential to fruitful conversations concerning the classics. Although there are several valid definitions of art, art as a genus is “a fixed procedure, established by reason such that human acts achieve their due ends by the proper means.” A second prerequisite to great conversations is a foundation in the liberal arts.
- Session 3: Nature, Knowledge, & Nothings: Prioritizing Principles
May 25, 2020, 5pm Pacific
When utility and practicality displace truth and virtue, we get none of them. C.S. Lewis explains that if we put second things first, we will lose both first and second things. However, if we put first things first, we get second things thrown in to boot. Attributes of a great conversation are secondary things; the intellectual and moral arts and sciences are first things. When we keep first things first, we can trust our conversations will be fruitful – by nature, naturally.
By clarifying the distinctions between what we know (science), what we are to do (art), and what inevitably follows (nature), we will be in a position to properly prepare our homes for edifying and fruitful discussions.