Making School Beautiful Reading Club
Term: Summer 2021
Target Grade Levels: Adult
Schedule: 1x /week, 120 min
Section 1, June 7–August 2 (6 sessions): M 7:00 p.m. ET with Dr. John Skillen
Greetings, friends and fellow teachers!
Thank you for reading my recent book Making School Beautiful: Restoring the Harmony of Place, and joining this Scholé Reading Club. I am excited to get to know you, and for my book to foster shared conversation. My approach to our discussions will make them equally relevant whether you are a classical-Christian educator in a brick-and-mortar school or a home-schooling parent or a participant in a shared cooperative.
In anticipation of our time together, I’ve drawn up an overview of the topics and the chapters that serve as the prompts for each two-hour session. My counsel would be to read the entire book before the first session, and then revisit the specific passages for each week—but this is not obligatory. The Discussion Questions at the end of the book will prime the pump of your own reflections so that you can arrive at each session already engaged.
I plan to introduce the theme for a given session, activating key ideas or concepts, and posing questions that should help the group explore and even wrestle with the topics. I will bring the discussion to a close with some remarks that summarize and move us forward. Of course, fruitful discussion depends on the thoughtful and charitable engagement of everyone.
Course Materials Coming Soon!
John Skillen holds a BA in English from Gordon College and a Ph.D. in literature from Duke University. He served in Gordon’s English department as the medieval and Renaissance literature specialist before founding the College’s arts-oriented semester program in Orvieto (Italy), where the Skillen’s lived for a decade. Dr. Skillen directs the Orvieto-based Studio for Art, Faith & History and its program of seminars and retreats, including summer programs for the classical-Christian schooling community. His new book Making School Beautiful: Restoring the Harmony of Place (Classical Academic Press, 2020) works in tandem with his earlier book, Putting Art (Back) in Its Place (Hendrickson, 2016). John is the program coordinator of a track designed exclusively for classical Christian educators within Gordon’s Master’s degree in educational leadership and is the program advisor for Heritage, a week-long summer program for classical school high-schoolers on Gordon’s campus on the coast north of Boston. John’s wife Susan is an ordained Anglican priest and spiritual director. Now, empty nesters, the Skillens have raised four daughters in a small 1815 half-house in historic Newburyport, MA. John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.