A Look at the "Great Conversation"

10.02.2023 10:30 AM

Immersing your student in the good, true, and beautiful.

One of the distinctive strengths of classical education is that it focuses on methods and content with proven track records.  Today we’ll focus on the "Great Conversation," an ongoing discourse connecting thinkers, philosophers, writers, and scholars across various cultures and eras as they search for truth, order, freedom, goodness, beauty, virtue—and much more.  It's a way of understanding how ideas have developed and evolved over time through the exchange of thoughts, arguments, and insights.

The Great Conversation plays out in a set of pivotal literary and philosophical works known as the "Great Books."  Simply put, the Great Books are the sort of works that generations of people have considered worthy of passing on to their children.  These are the writings of renowned authors like Virgil, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Jane Austen, and they offer profound insight and intellectual rigor that have shaped human intellect and society.  However, this doesn’t imply that classical students completely disregard modern literature—students track the Great Conversation through modern works, as well. 

By immersing students in this Great Conversation, we can help them understand that careful—and influential—thinkers don't emerge in isolation.  (“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Prov. 11:14).  And we train them to desire and value ideas that are good, true, and beautiful and that have stood the test of time.

As we engage students with the Great Books and partake in the great conversation at Knox Classical School, we guide them in communal thinking alongside the most eminent figures from our cultural heritage.  And we approach these texts not from a presumed neutral stance, but rather within the framework of the biblical worldview.  The overarching objective is that as students develop an affection for the virtues of goodness, truth, and beauty evident in the Great Books, their adoration for both God and fellow beings will flourish.

Katie Montoya