The Great Conversation

Through direct encounter with great works of human achievement, this four-year interdisciplinary program introduces students to conflicts in world views that have occurred over the past 3000 years, thus joining in "the great conversation" of men and women through the ages about the perennial issues of human life. Because ideas have consequences, students will study the philosophy and theology of western culture in order to understand the expression of its world view in literature, art, music, government, economics, and science.

The knowledge and skills acquired through TGC apply to all disciplines and are useful throughout college and into adult life. TGC teaches students to read critically; to explore difficult ideas and themes through class discussions; to focus thoughts into constructive, organized patterns; and to share those ideas orally and in writing.

Students read epic poetry, plays, essays, and philosophical, political, and religious documents. They encounter great works of art and music. TGC asks students to wrestle with the ideas expressed in these works and to evaluate them, in class discussion, as well as writing and rhetoric assignments, against the absolute standard of God’s Word using the “Seven Vital Questions:

  1. Is there a God and what is he like?
  2. What is the nature of the universe?
  3. What is the nature of man?
  4. What is the basis of ethics and morality?
  5. What is the cause of evil and suffering?
  6. What happens to a person at death?
  7. What is the meaning of history?
TGC Curriculum
TGC is based largely on the Starting Points and World Views of the Western World programs published by Cornerstone Curriculum. TGC goes beyond the WVWW foundation, however, with a History Syllabus, Writing Syllabus, and Rhetoric Syllabus created specifically for TGC by TGC teachers to strengthen the four-year WVWW program.

TGC Teaching Team
The TGC curriculum is developed and taught by the TGC teaching team, bringing the unique gifts and passions of each experienced world view teacher to each class and providing continuity throughout the complete program. The team approach provides the experience to delve deeply into core material, and add supplementary work in History, Writing, and Rhetoric.

TGC Class Format
TGC students meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays (see schedule ) to discuss, digest, and wrestle with issues raised in the assigned reading, as well as receive additional instruction in English, History, and Rhetoric. Students should plan to spend approximately three to four hours per day (including class time) to complete the reading assignments, answer the discussion questions in the syllabus, and complete the writing and rhetoric assignments.

TGC Class Descriptions
TGC Primer -- Starting Points: Where our Thinking Begins is a world view primer for building a Biblical world view, and an introductory course to The Great Conversation program at Schola. TGC Primer students will focus on “Building the Biblical World View" (first quarter), “Identifying Literature Based Upon the Biblical World View” (second quarter), “Speaking the Biblical World View Into the Culture" (third quarter), and “The Founding of a Nation Based Upon the Biblical World View” (fourth quarter). In addition to the World View studies, students complete both Write With World I and II, master an overview of Western Civilization, read supplementary works of literature, and study informal fallacies, rhetorical devices, and public speaking. Write with WORLD Lab meets after TGC Primer on Thursdays and provides optional additional writing instruction and conferencing for TGC Primer students.

Students in grades 8 - 9, successfully completing TGC-Primer will receive a total of 3 high school credits in English, History, and Bible/Apologetics.

Write with WORLD Writing Lab offers supplementary guidance to help students enrolled in TGC Primer to complete their Write with WORLD writing assignments. Although we briefly discuss in class the brainstorming and pre-writing that students complete in their Writer's Journals, some students benefit from additional guidance in completing those assignments each week. This guidance can be provided at home by a parent with strong writing skills or by enrolling the student in WWW Writing Lab, which meets after TGC Primer on Thursdays. Students will review completed assignments (with possible re-writing where appropriate) and begin working on new assignments and writing exercises with an experienced writing teacher.

TGC1 -- WVWW Year One, The Emergence of Christianity covers Ancient Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages (1200 BC to 1200 AD). Students will explore the world views of the twin pillars of western civilization introduced in TGC Primer: the Hebrews, and the classical world of Greece and Rome. The class will trace the collision course of these world views toward the final showdown over the question, "Who is Lord?" Caesar or Jesus? TGC1 students will examine the Biblical world view through extensive readings in Genesis, Job, the Gospels, and Romans, along with supporting books by other authors, while exploring the Greco-Roman world view through detailed studies of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Plato's Republic, and the Aenied of Virgil. During the final quarter, students will turn to the Middle Ages and examine the impact of the Church on the Roman Empire in Augustine's City of God.

Students in grades 9 - 10, successfully completing TGC1 will receive a total of 4 credits in English, History, Bible/Apologetics, and Philosophy.

TGC2 -- WVWW Year Two, The Grandeur of Christianity covers the Renaissance, Reformation, Revolutionary Age and the Rise of Modern Science (1200 - 1800s). Students will trace the shift from Medieval Christian philosophy and theology to that of the Renaissance and Reformation by examining the literature, music, and art of the period. Students will explore the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Bunyan, and Dickens. Students will examine the works of Renaissance musicians as well as the compositions of Bach, Handel, and Haydn. They will compare the art of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo with the works of Durer and Rembrandt. TGC students will examine the influence of both Reformation thought and Enlightenment ideas on society through a study of political theory and government. The class will consider the impact of these ideas on the English and American Revolutions, and compare those to the French and Russian Revolutions. They will study documents from the Magna Carta to the U.S. Constitution, from Rousseau’s Social Contract to Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto. Finally, students will follow the development of Reformation thought into the field of science.

Students in grades 10 - 12, successfully completing TGC2 will receive a total of 5 credits in English, History, Philosophy/Theology, American Government, Political Theory, and Art/Music History/Appreciation.

TGC3 -- WVWW Year Three, The Loss of Truth covers the Age of Reason and the Age of Fragmentation through the present (1800s to the present). Students will compare and contrast the theistic ideas of the Bible with the naturalistic ideas of the 19th and 20th centuries. Students begin the year by reading three 20th century novels: B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, and The Plague by Camus, and examining the legendary Star Wars Trilogy by George Lucas in order to define the cataclysmic shifts in thought which occurred during the 20th century. Next, students will examine the impact of this loss of truth, meaning, and purpose to life on science, philosophy, and theology. Students will study how the thoughts of Darwin and 20th century philosophers were transferred into culture through art, music, government, and economics. Finally, TGC3 students return to apologetics as they learn to take the truth of Christianity into the areas of philosophy, theology, psychology, ecology, and sociology.

Students in grades 11 - 12, successfully completing TGC3 will receive a total of 5 credits in English, History, Philosophy/Theology, American Government, Economic Theory, and Art/Music History/Appreciation.

TGC Credits
The Great Conversation covers four years of study. Ideally, students will begin with TGC Primer in 8th or 9th grade, completing the program in 11th or 12th grade. Students who complete the TGC program in 11th grade may choose to pursue additional high school courses in specific areas of interest or begin their college work in dual-credit classes at a Junior College. Remember that TCG is an interdisciplinary class awarding 3 to 4.5 credits each year. This class will require a large portion of your child’s study time, approximately three to four hours per day, including class time. The addition of math, science, language, and outside activities is a full schedule for most students.
Credits TGC P TGC 1 TGC 2 TGC 3 Total Credits
English 1 1 1 1 4
History 1 1 1 1 4
Bible/Apologetics 1 1 2
Philosophy/Theology 1 1 1 3
American Government .5 .5 1
Political Theory 1 1
Economic Theory 1 1
Art/Music History/Appreciation .5 .5 1
Total Credits 3 4 5 5 17
TGC Enrollment
Prerequisite Students preparing to enter The Great Conversation would benefit from:
  • a thorough study of world and American history.
  • wide and varied reading.
  • basic writing skills.
  • thorough understanding of English grammar.
  • good typing skills.

Although not required, TGC Prep class at Schola provides excellent preparation for TGC Primer.

Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight Curriculum are two excellent programs for preparing students at home to participate in the Schola Program. Both programs provide a good historical overview coupled with excellent reading recommendations of whole books rather than anthologies.

Even in circumstances where the entire TGC program is not feasible, TGC can still be a valuable addition to your student's course of study. TGC-Primer is an excellent stand-alone program that introduces students to thinking '"world-viewishly." It can be successfully completed by mature 7th graders, as well as 9th graders.

Students who do not have time to complete the entire four-year program can begin with TGC-1. Although TGC-2 builds on the foundation laid in TGC-1, students will nevertheless find the study of the Renaissance and Reformation from a world view perspective fascinating. Even TGC-3, although difficult to enter without the foundation of previous years, can be successfully completed by highly-motivated students.

Class Size
  • Minimum: 8
  • Maximum: 24
Tuition and Fees
Texts & Materials The backbone of each TGC class is the WVWW Student Syllabus which is divided into weeks, and includes both a schedule for completing assignments and space to complete the assignments. Each week, the syllabus directs students to a variety of resources for study, some of which are included in the syllabus itself.
Students are responsible for purchasing only the Student Syllabus and required books on the TGC book list below. Please note that many WVWW resources are supplied for the class by Schola and do not need to be purchased by families.

Some books are used in more than one year.