FAQ: The Great Conversation

How is TGC different from WVWW?

TGC draws heavily upon the works and ideas of Dr. Francis Schaeffer and is based largely on the Starting Points and World Views of the Western World programs published by Cornerstone Curriculum. TGC goes well beyond the WVWW foundation, however, strengthening and enhancing this excellent program, through an extensive History Syllabus, Writing Syllabus, and Rhetoric Syllabus created specifically for TGC by TGC teachers to strengthen the four-year WVWW program.
  • The TGC History Syllabus helps students to:
    • master an overview of Western Civilization.
    • understand the background history and culture of each major book studied and explore how that work is a product of its time.
    • become familiar with the important people, places, periods, events, and thought of western civilization.

    Students read selections from history resources that introduce background understanding necessary for reading and discussion of TGC topics.

  • The TGC Writing Syllabus helps students to:
    • master various types of expository writing.
    • explore various avenues of creative writing.
    • discuss literary elements in a variety of literature.
    • critically assess their own writing.
    • gain confidence evaluating literature against a Biblical World View.
    • communicate effectively, critically, and confidently both orally and on paper.

    Students receive instruction in grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Students write serious essays that will be thoroughly, but gently evaluated on grammar, content, and style. Each student will be challenged and led to accomplish higher levels of writing.

  • The TGC Rhetoric Syllabus helps students to:
    • think critically.
    • write critically and persuasively.
    • speak critically and persuasively.

    Students study informal logic, and develop a persuasive writing style which enables them to explain and defend their positions by logically presenting a set of reasons or evidence that supports a conclusion.

The components of the TGC program help students to grow academically in ways that they will draw upon in college and throughout life, especially in thinking critically and communicating persuasively.

What is meant by integrated or interdisciplinary studies?

In the Schola program, the concept of integrated studies is based on the premise that ideas have consequences. What a culture believes about God, man, and the universe affects everything that culture produces in literature, art, music, and architecture. Those beliefs also determine what kind of government the culture has and what kind of science the culture performs. Students in other Schola classes have the opportunity to see how each discipline relates to the issues discussed in The Great Conversation.

What is meant by a Classical Liberal Arts Education?

Classical Education focuses on books that are historically recognized as valuable, authoritative, traditional, or standards of excellence. Students trained in the classical fashion learn how to learn, how to reason, and how to communicate orally and with written language.

A Liberal Arts Education is one that stretches students, helping them to see the world beyond themselves and their experiences. It aids them in seeing the complexities and sometimes the tragedies of life.

Why is the study of world views important?

The study of world views is important because it helps students to understand why a culture functions the way it does. Studying world views gives students a window to the past and an aid in understanding and living in the present. The Great Conversation compares historical cultures as well as our own with the absolutes contained in a Biblical world view.

Why limit the history and cultural studies to Western Civilization?

Because our culture is a product of Western Civilization, it is important that we understand the vast body of knowledge of that civilization in order to better understand the times in which we live.

A student may choose to fully study Eastern cultures in the years before The Great Conversation or in the years after its completion.

What are the Great Books? Why should they be studied?

The Great Books are a large canon of books that are considered central to the development of western culture, and have because of their excellence impacted it substantially. The Great Books include works such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, but also the voices of men such as Augustine, Pascal, Calvin, and C. S. Lewis. The readings, discussions, and the writing assignments based upon these books allow students in The Great Conversation classes to grapple with the ideas that have shaped our culture. Studying the Great Books sharpens the students’ ability to go forth and shed light to the world around them.

What academic preparation would be helpful for a student before entering TGC?

Students preparing to enter The Great Conversation would benefit from:
  • a thorough study of world and American history,
  • wide and varied reading of whole books rather than anthologies,
  • basic writing skills.
  • thorough understanding of English grammar.
  • good typing skills.

Although not required, TGC Prep class at Schola provides excellent preparation for TGC Primer.

Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight Curriculum are two excellent programs for preparing students to participate in the Schola Program.

Can a student join a Great Conversation class at any of the four levels?

Even in circumstances where this entire program is not feasible, TGC can still be a valuable addition to your student's course of study. TGC Primer is an excellent stand-alone program that introduces students, grades 8 and 9, to thinking '"world-viewishly".

Students who do not have time to complete the entire four-year program can begin with TGC Year One. Although TGC Year Two builds on the foundation laid in Year One, students will nevertheless find the study of the Renaissance and Reformation from a world view perspective fascinating. Even Year Three, although difficult to enter without the foundation of previous years, can be successfully completed by highly-motivated students.

Why are some TGC books listed for more than one year?

Some TGC books are not completed in a single year.