06 Jun The Syntopical Approach and the Great Ideas
A great tool to assure a syntopical approach to learning is Mortimer Adler’s work The Great Ideas, and his collection of essays which divide Humanities education into the pursuit of understanding 102 Great Ideas.
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We suggest students research more on these websites concerning the “Great Ideas,” Mortimer Adler, “paideia learning” strategies and why a philosophical approach is for everyone. These sites also give a general overview of the importance of a liberal arts education for all.
In his academic career, Mortimer Adler insisted that as humanists we must engage in great conversations about great ideas expressed in great works, and he defined the “great conversation” as a “discussion of the great ideas during the last twenty-five centuries.”
Confluence Courseware is oriented by this principle that the best liberal arts education is one that has “great conversations” about “great ideas” expressed in great works.
Therefore, at least a cursory understanding of the notion of syntopical reading, organized around the delineation of “great ideas,” is helpful as we begin to consider the Syntopical Course Guides from Confluence Courseware. Obviously, the task of syntopical, great books learning is a life-long project, but this courseware allows for the training of life-long habits so that the student can continue his or her liberal arts education long after formal schooling.
“Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”