Adler: Read and Discuss

A short article by Mortimer Adler:

What should an autodidact do to continue learning throughout his or her adult life?  My answer can be summed up in three words:

Read and Discuss

Reading Great Books alone will not do.  Solitary reading is as undesirable as solitary drinking.  To enrich one’s understanding of what one has read, one must discuss it with others who have read the same book, with or without the guidance of someone who is a better reader than most of us are.

Nor will discussion itself serve this purpose without any control by or reference to topics or themes developed in the great conversation to be found in the Great Books.  Without that control, discussion usually denigrates into superficial chatter, after-dinner chitchat, or what is worse, a session that is nothing but an exchange of opinions with everyone speaking in turn without anybody listening to what anyone else has said.

The regulative maxim for the autodidact is “read and discuss” with emphasis on the word “and” to signify that the two activities must be done in planned conjunction with each other, not each in absence or deprivation of the other.

Found at the School of Abraham (LDS Homeschoolers). Their Great Books of the Western World and Classical Education Resources pages have many good links.

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