Teaching the Great Books

with Joshua Gibbs
In this course, Joshua Gibbs, upper-school humanities educator at the Veritas School in Richmond, VA, shares what he has learned over the course of ten years about teaching the great books to upper school students. He considers not only the character of teenage students and the challenges they face (such as acedia), but also the disposition appropriate to the teacher. Josh also addresses practical pedagogical issues: how to teach, how to read, how to create meaningful assignments and tests, how to manage parents, and how to create rhythms and traditions throughout the year that blend regularity and rhythm with the unexpected and surprise. This course also features several discussions between Josh and Dr. Christopher Perrin that will prompt further thought and discussion among those taking the course.
This course follows the organizational scheme below:

  • Introduction
  • Lesson 1: What Should We Read?
  • Lesson 2: How Should We Read the Classics?
  • Lesson 3: How to Do Deep Reading
  • Lesson 4: Ancient and Modern Modes of Interpretation
  • Lesson 5: How to Teach Great Books Part I
  • Lesson 6: How to Teach Great Books Part II
  • Lesson 7: Classroom Habits and Practices
  • Lesson 8: Who Do We Teach?
  • Lesson 9: Students Afflicted with Acedia or Ennui
  • Lesson 10: Helping Students Overcome Acedia or Ennui
  • Lesson 11: Who Is the Teacher?
  • Lesson 12: Observe Mr. Gibbs’ 7th Grade Classroom Day 1 (with pre-class interview)
  • Lesson 13: Observe Mr. Gibbs’ 10th Grade Classroom Day 1 (with pre- and post-class interviews)
  • Lesson 14: Observe Mr. Gibbs’ 10th Grade Classroom Day 2 (with pre- and post-class interviews)
  • Lesson 15: Observe Mr. Gibbs’ 10th Grade Classroom Day 3 (with pre- and post-class interviews)
Joshua Gibbs is a humanities and literature teacher at the Veritas School in Richmond, VA. Josh has been teaching the great books for some ten years and is an Associate Fellow with the Alcuin Fellowship, a coterie of classical educators who are committed to the renewal of classical Christian education. He is also a frequent speaker at classical education conferences. Josh lives in Richmond, VA, with his wife and two daughters, both of whom have seven names. Josh is also the author of the book How to Be Unlucky: Reflections on the Pursuit of Virtue, published by our friends at the Circe Institute.

Please Note: ClassicalU is currently developing a certification to accompany our course offerings. The certification credit component of this course is now active but also undergoing refinement and testing.

To obtain a certification credit for this course, simply complete the quiz that follows each presentation in the course, and then also take the certification test at the end of the course. The quizzes are designed to ensure that you have understood the essential content of each presentation, and they can be taken more than once if necessary. The cumulative certification test at the end of the course is given as a pass/fail test and requires that you upload one short essay (of 600 to 750 words) demonstrating your understanding this course. When you have completed the course, a certificate that you can print or email will magically appear under the “My Courses” section of this website.

For this course, the the essay assignment is:

In 600 to 750 words, describe the essential qualities that a good teacher of great books should possess. 

Please allow approximately 2 weeks for essay submissions to be reviewed.

By taking the course for certification credit, you also will be on your way to obtaining a Level 1 certification.

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