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What is our Great Books Reading Discussion Group and how do we work?

First we use the methods and texts from the Great Books Foundation. Our method is called Shared Inquiry and all texts for the September 2016 to June 2017 sessions are from the Third series of the Great Books Reading and Discussion Program.  (You can buy the set of paperbacks and the discussion guide from Great Books.)  Purchasing the texts is a prerequisite for joining the group and reading the text is a prerequisite for discussion.

For a list of the readings for the upcoming year look at the calendar or download the schedule under "More/Files", the menu item at the top of the page.

What is Shared Inquiry and how was it developed? Shared Inquiry was developed by Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago in 1947 to help discussion participants explore, interpret and evaluate the sometimes complex and challenging ideas in the great works we discuss. It is an intellectually rigorous activity that focuses on the interpretation of meaning within the written texts. It is Socratic in style and firmly text based.

In this process participants enjoy the benefits of diverse points of view focused exploration and common discovery.

Each Participant is engaged in an active search for the meaning of the selection at hand. With the energy and encouragement of the group, participants articulate ideas, support assertions with evidence from the text and grapple together with different possibilities of meaning.

How does it work?

There is a “leader” for each selection. The leader has read the text at least twice carefully and has developed interpretive questions—things that puzzled the reader (not questions with specific answers).

It is NOT a free-wheeling exchange of opinions and testimonials which go outside the text. Questions and discussions are always firmly grounded in the text itself.
Here are the basic guidelines:
1. Read the selection carefully before participating in the discussion. Take notes as you read.
2. Support your ideas with evidence from the text.
3. Discuss the ideas in the selection and try to understand them fully.
4. Listen carefully to other participants and respond to them directly.

What do you have to do to join?


1. To join the GreatBooks discussion, contact  Larry Schiff  917 749 0695, larry@larryschiff.com or Tamara Bedić  tamara_bedic@yahoo.com .
2. After clarifying with Larry or Tamara that you would like to discuss the readings based only on what is in the text of the reading, buy the texts from the Great Books Foundation ($32.95 plus shipping and tax) at Great Books.
3. Read the selection carefully as described above.
4. Come in and share (the first Wednesday of each month from 7:00-9:00 PM at the location that Larry or Tamara will send you in an email.) We charge a $5 fee for each meeting to pay for the cost of the room, if you are not a member of the Ethical Culture Society.

Check the calendar for exact readings and dates.

Many of our current members have been in our group for years. Some of their comments are listed in "Group Reviews" in the sidebar.

We look forward to meeting you and having you join our discussions.

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