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Best Practices

One of the supreme and sustaining joys of offering Great Books pedagogy to minority and nontraditional community college students is to see the accomplishment and growth which their mastery of these materials demonstrate.

Semester in and semester out, without fanfare and without in many cases fully realizing it, students by the hundreds confound the prejudices that prevent more faculty from exposing them to these core works.

Indeed, the video clips below provide vivid, inspirational evidence that community college students indeed have the capacity to abstract profound and universal meanings from particular works set in highly unfamiliar societies, epochs, and countries, and operating in many cases under quite different sets of values, moral codes, roles, and expectations. Plainly, these clips reflect students who have gained the skills to profitably approach rigorous college-level course materials.

What these clips cannot communicate, alas, are the incidents related to faculty members by students about the pleasures they have experienced when their bosses are impressed by the high level of materials they have studied and assimilated, and how these students evangelize their own newfound discoveries among their friends and families.

These brief videos are also being displayed for other reasons. One is practical: those considering establishing Great Books Curricula should find here sample approaches for making the life of the mind and the sharing of significant ideas a more regular part of community college campus life. The other reason is to show how faculty can employ such events to cultivate and share their own intellectual curiosity and power of meditation with the college community, in an environment where too often pedagogy feels itself unfairly obliged to focus on the acquisition of prosaic practical skills at the expense of curricular intellectual and cultural content.

Symposia

Intercollegiate Student Symposium

To culminate the three-year collaborative work of creating new Great Books Curricula at Oakton and Harold Washington colleges, students from those institutions along with a participant from Wright College convened on the Washington campus in downtown Chicago to present academic papers on the ethical, economic, legal, and psychological issues raised in Jane Austenís novel Pride and Prejudice, and organized around the theme of "the individual and the community."

Local Campus Student Symposium

Wright College students present academic papers on the semesterís Great Books theme in an annual event which encourages audience participation.

Faculty Symposium

Wright College faculty present academic papers on the semesterís Great Books theme in an annual event which encourages audience participation.

Great Books Presentations and Pedagogy

Great Books Drama>

A multicultural student cast presents The Menachmi by the Roman playwright Plautus under the auspices of the Wright College Stage Wright company, directed by Professor Maria Jaskot-Inclan.

Special Great Books Cultural Event

Conceived and initiated by the Wright College Great Books Curriculum, classical actor Allen Gilmore presents a performance and talk on commedia dellíarte inspired by his tour de force role in the Court Theater production of Moliereís Scapin.

Great Books in the Classroom

Professor Helen Ward Page and her Oakton College students analyze an aspect of Shakespeareís play Othello using shared inquiry and a seminar approach.

Professor Terre Ouwehand and her Santa Barbara College students analyze aspects of sacred texts.

Professor Bruce Gans and his Wright College students candidly explore a Great Books text.


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