The Goal of
What is education about? Well, what are human
beings about? We believe
education should serve the end, or goal, of human life.
Even in the purely natural order that goal is happiness.
Every person wants to be happy. Education should help
people to achieve happiness.
What makes a human being
happy? That question lies at the foundations of what has
been called the Great Conversation of Western
Civilization. Certainly, education is not simply about the
acquisition of information. It must be concerned with a
far broader range of human activity and experience.
Socrates had a good answer to the question of what the
goal of education is. He said it is to learn to love what
is true and beautiful. Is Socrates right about this? We
Young Mother and Child, by Cassatt
What We Do
We help students acquire skills that help them to become truly
educated. No one is educated by the time he leaves the
secondary level [high school] of education. But each
person ought to possess by that time the tools that will
help him to become educated as he lives his life. We call
these tools, or skills, the liberal arts.
We provide a forum for students to
engage in conversation about what they think and
feel regarding the texts they have read in preparation for the
discussions. These discussions are live-voice audio, guided by
trained tutors/moderators, and take place in our classrooms on
the internet. We speak to each other in real-time.
Because it is more fully human than simply reading books or
listening to lectures, though those activities have their
places. In conversation, particularly conversation about ideas
and universal human experience, students are more fully active
than when simply reading and they derive intellectual
and emotional benefits that are difficult to come by
These discussions give students the opportunity to increase
their proficiency in the two primary liberal arts - speaking
and listening. These two arts are fundamental to human
relationships. Students develop the ability to put into words,
to communicate, what it is they are thinking and feeling. In
addition, because these discussions are very much about
questions - particularly "why" questions - participants gain
experience in comparison, analogy, and judgment.
Over the course of the year we discuss important ideas -
honor, justice, courage, home - as we encounter them in the
texts. Students gain a greater breadth and depth of insight
into human life, human experience, by this exposure to the
experience of others. They gradually develop a compassion for
their fellows as they meet with other points of view, and see
truth from perspectives that were previously beyond their
In addition to all of this, they develop friendships with
their classmates. And friendship, a kind of love, is an
important part of education.