liberal arts class

An introduction to the Socratic method and discussion-based approaches to literature for high school students

By Olivia Godby

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 23 July - 10 August, 3.30-5pm

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Far too often, the style of learning many students encounter in school focuses on answers rather than questions, leaving many students bored or feeling inadequate for seeking a different approach. The Socratic method of learning, however, allows students to explore many of those same topics through investigation, discussion, and cooperative learning. This alternate approach not only helps many students discover a love of learning, but also allows them to celebrate and pursue their curiosity for the first time in an academic setting.


Students will be able to:

  • Pose questions of works of literature and philosophy
  • Read with a critical eye
  • Study and engage conflicting ideas
  • Learn how to offer insights and participate in a discussion setting
  • Listen and respond to peers with curiosity and respect
  • Present and defend arguments with textual evidence


Based on the Great Books Seminar programs of many liberal arts colleges, this class offers a fresh learning approach to all students, whether they wish to deepen their understanding of literature or seek an opportunity to discover a new interest. In a small group setting, we will employ the Socratic method of discussion to encounter classic works of literature, philosophy, and political theory in ways that go far beyond dissecting metaphors and writing essays. Students will learn how to read texts with a critical eye, pose questions, structure text-based arguments, and participate in a group discussion by listening and sharing. Moreover, students will learn how to interact with and integrate conflicting ideas, as well as how to offer their own insights in a safe and supportive environment. Students will leave this class not only with the confidence and skills to succeed in more traditional high school English classes, but also with the curiosity to continue to explore how these classic works have contributed to the living fabric of our society.

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Literature/Poetry

  • Excerpts from: Walden (Thoreau), A Room of One’s Own (Woolf),  Gulliver’s Travels (Swift), Metamorphoses (Ovid), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), Leaves of Grass (Whitman), Sister Outsider (Lorde), Citizen (Rankine), Things Fall Apart (Achebe)

Week 2: Philosophy. Knowledge, The Soul, and Personhood

  • Excerpts from: The Phaedrus (Plato), The Republic (Plato), Tao te Ching (Lao Tzu), The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, Essays (Montaigne), Nature and Selected Essays (Emerson), “This is Water” (David Foster Wallace)

Week 3: Political Theory/Humans in Society and Human Nature

  • Excerpts from: Utopia (Moore), The Prince (Machiavelli), The Communist Manifesto (Marx), Discourse on Inequality (Rousseau), On Liberty (Mill)

About Olivia

During my time at the University of Notre Dame, both my major and the honors program in which I took supplementary classes heavily emphasized seminar and discussion-based learning. My major in the study of Great Books exposed me to exciting new ways of encountering many of the works that have been foundational to our society, and I spent countless hours not only reading material but also working with excellent professors who acted as moderators of class discussions. This experience gave me an appreciation and understanding of how this method of learning can expand intellectual horizons, and I strongly believe that the earlier students can learn in this way, the better suited they are for a lifetime of curiosity, critical thinking, and ability to engage in healthy and productive conversation around some of life’s most important issues. As an experienced tutor, I am sensitive to many student’s fear of sharing ideas and can create an environment that will encourage everyone to participate with confidence and respect.


Hampton Tutors
4500 9th Ave NE, Suite 300, Seattle, WA, 98105



Class may be billable through insurance in some cases; contact Hampton Tutors for further information.

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Terms, conditions and refund policy:
In the event that you must cancel, your payment will be fully refundable until 5 business days prior to the class start date. Cancellations made less than 5 business days in advance of the class will be partially refunded at 50% (for example, $250 refund payment for a $500 class). Cancellations may be made by phone or email.

In the event that we must cancel the class, we will notify you via phone or email and refund you in full.