About Online Courses
WISDOM Socratic Dialogue Online Program
Below, find detailed information about WISDOM's Socratic Dialogue Online Program. You may scroll through and click on 'Read more' for the whole article. See the sidebar to quickly and easily access a specific section.
Through the use of virtual classrooms, WISDOM offers a selection of courses supporting home schoolers. Each classroom environment features a tutor experienced in leading Socratic discussion. Communication within the classroom is achieved through microphone, text chat, and whiteboard. (Webcam is not used, as experience has shown it to be a distraction.)
The online program is available for students who are enrolled with WISDOM. However, once Albertan WISDOM students have had first opportunity to register in the courses, WISDOM opens registrations up to non-WISDOM, out-of-Province students. Non-WISDOM in-Province students are not eligible to register for online classes. If a family leaves WISDOM mid-year, they are also by default removing themselves from any online class(es).
WISDOM acknowledges and views parents as the primary educators of their children. The online program is not meant to replace education in the home, but rather acts as an extension of the home, giving support to parent through the high school years (and earlier). Tutors work in cooperation with parents, providing a service that recognizes the authority of mother and father. This entails some flexibility on the part of the tutor.
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Tutor feedback/course feedback/ Survey Monkey
Students and parents are solicited for feedback at the end of each term. This feedback asks the student to evaluate what they liked best and what they would like to see changed. Parents are also given opportunity for comments. This feedback, remitted anonymously, is shared with tutors so they can self-evaluate and make needed changes or not.
Discipline and conformity in program
It is important that the online classes provide a learning environment where tutor and students are respected and time is well spent. Uniformity in all the classes as it pertains to expectations is crucial. By abiding by the Etiquette Guidelines, students can expect the same standard from class to class.
The WISDOM Socratic Dialogue Online Program was first started in order to help families home school through the high school years.
There can be a great pull during these years, where parents and youth feel the pressure to return to the school system and abandon the benefits of home schooling. The time for entering the world of work or post-secondary studies approaches quickly and students want to make sure they are amply prepared. Some parents feel the need for assistance in teaching high school level subjects to their children. Finally, many youth at this age are eager to interact in a learning environment with other students in order to challenge and develop their own thinking.
Through the WISDOM Socratic Dialogue Online Program, we hope to respond to these needs and provide an alternative to the multitude of courses widely available through the school system.
A Classical Education
It should be clear from the beginning that there are some differences between the WISDOM Socratic Online Program and a Provincial high school program. WISDOM’s aim is to offer a classical education. A classical education can refer to using the classics (i.e. the Great Books) in studies, or it can also refer to the time-honored approach to education, an approach which has been recognized from the time of ancient Greece, through Roman civilization, and through Christendom by means of Socratic dialogue. This classical approach is still preserved today by some educational institutions. WISDOM strives to offer an authentic classical education.
The 'Great Books'
The Great Books or original classics are extremely valuable in education. Since they have been so influential throughout history, in the development of our ideas and culture, we do well to read them in order to have a strong grasp of our roots; they reveal to us where we have come from and where we are going as a society. Further, the Great Books are among the best examples of beautiful literature, clear and orderly thought, and persuasive language. But most importantly, the classics are classics. That is, they are not simply a passing fad, but have stood the test of time. Every generation has found them to be worth reading, which proves that they contain important insights and truths - truths that are just as important today as they were in the past. This really is the greatest benefit to be gained from the great books - not just an understanding of history or a mastery of language and literature, but a love for truth and beauty.
The Classical Approach – Liberal Arts
What is the goal of all education? The profound answer, which great cultures have touched on again and again, is this: the true goal of education is similar to the goal of human life. Whatever skill you are learning, from early childhood, should have the ultimate purpose of making you more free, virtuous and happy; these are at the heart of human life. All the practical skills we learn do this to a certain extent; by learning to speak, to cook, or to build a house, we are becoming freer. However, as the ancient Greeks saw, liberty of soul is far more important than liberty of body.
The Seven Arts
Necessary to this type of education, traditionally, seven arts or skills have been preserved and passed on through the ages. These are Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Geometry, Arithmetic, Music, and Astronomy. The first three, especially, can be considered tools of learning. Dorothy Sayers describes them very well in her essay ‘The Lost Tools of Learning’. The latter four were chosen partly because the same mathematical truths are found in each of them, but in different ways. Geometry contains mathematics in space, Music contains mathematics in time, Astronomy contains mathematics in space and time, and Arithmetic contains mathematics apart from space and time.
A Christian Classical Education
When Christ came, as it is said, “His holy life and death were a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks”. God came to show that the wisdom of this world is foolishness, and that the important things were being revealed to little children. On the other hand, Christianity ultimately did not destroy this great heritage of mankind, but instead subjected it to Christ. The Liberal Arts were baptized by the Church, and Theology; What God has revealed to us about Himself became the ultimate goal and the mother of the Liberal Arts, with wonderful results.
A Classical Education Through WISDOM
WISDOM’s Socratic Dialogue Online Program can be considered a classical program in two senses of the word. The majority of the readings are original classics, whether in Literature, Mathematics, Science, Philosophy, or Theology. The students are encouraged not to read introductions or summaries of these books, but to read the books themselves, and to gain all the truth they can from them.
The method of learning in most of the online courses is through Socratic dialogue, which means that the students are expected to use their minds in defending their ideas, challenging one another’s grasp of the book and of the truths contained within it. This method strengthens the students’ memory and begins to accustom them to using correct grammar, logical thinking, and persuasive speaking - the first three liberal arts.
The Practical Effects of a Classical Education
Students who have a classical education usually do very well in colleges or universities. This is mainly because they have concentrated on developing the arts of learning and thinking rather than simply collecting information. They find it easier to categorize and order everything they are learning, and recognize which information is important and which isn’t. They know which questions to ask, and how to pursue them until they find the answer. They tend to have a more voracious appetite to learn because they know how important the truth is. They can recognize when something has been proven and when it hasn’t.
All students are asked to abide by the following guidelines and common courtesies. Your agreement to these guidelines each term is required in order for you to continue taking any WISDOM online courses. Mutual trust and integrity help to make an excellent learning environment. We want all of our students to have a fruitful and enjoyable experience.
Augustine confessed that he was “one of those who write because they have made some progress and who, by means of writing, make further progress” in the spiritual life. (Letter 143) John Newman said, “writing demands humility”.
The WISDOM classical online program includes a selection of writing courses. At the heart of each of these courses is a particular focus on discovering and expressing truth and beauty.