Upper School Students Engage in Seminar to Discuss Classic Works

On the evening of Monday, Dec. 12, about a dozen Hackley Upper School students gathered for their second monthly seminar designed to allow them to meet and discuss classic works of literature, philosophy, religion, and political science.

Modeled on the teaching style embodied by St. John's College, based in Annapolis, Md. and Sante Fe, N.M., the seminar is organized by Upper School history teacher and debate coach Steve Fitzpatrick—who is currently pursuing an M.A. in the Liberal Arts through St. John's online program—and Robert Mass, a St. John's board member, college philosophy professor, and co-coach of Hackley's Ethics Bowl team.

Unlike a more lecture-oriented class, the seminar is unique in that its "tutors" pose an opening question, which is then discussed among all the participants based solely on the text. With all readings revolving around the theme "What is a community?", the group's first meeting focused on several chapters of Homer's Odyssey centered on the opening question of: "What is the difference between a visitor, a guest, and a friend?" The most recent session was based on the Book of Deuteronomy

Based on the group's first few meetings, Hackley students unsurprisingly demonstrated their keen insights and probing questions of these timeless historical works. Future readings include works by Montaigne, Kant, Marx, and more contemporary authors, such as Wendell Berry and Lorraine Hansberry.