Our Courses

Ancient Greek Tragedy and Comedy

Leader: Dr. Michael Ivins, Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies

When: June 4 – 20 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 11am – 1 pm (AZ)

Where: Live Zoom Session

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

This seminar will study six plays from classical Greece, three tragedies and three comedies. Each session will alternate between genres in the hopes of gaining a better sense of the complex relationship between tragedy and comedy by bringing them into relief next to one another.

In particular we will be looking at Euripides and Aristophanes, who are two key figures in Greek literature with some peculiar associations. Not only might a subtextual dialogue be discerned between many of their plays, Aristophanes takes explicit aim at Euripides by making him a central character in two of his plays (Women of Thesmaphoria and Frogs) and has characters in others offer direct criticism of his work.

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Augustine and Aquinas on Teaching and Learning

Leader: Dr. Paul Weinhold, Director of Continuing Education, Great Hearts Academies

When: June 7 – 19 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 8:30 am – 10:15 am  (AZ), 10:30 am – 12:15 pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

In this series of seminars, participants will take close look at the educational thought of St. Augustine of Hippo, who, in spite of the harsh excoriation in the Confessions of the traditional Roman rhetorical and literary education he himself received, made an important contribution to the post-classical Western world’s thinking about how to integrate pagan learning with Christian faith.  His dialogue On the Teacher develops a theory of language and teaching drawing upon both Platonic and Christian thought, while the treatise De doctrina christiana, usually translated as “On Christian Doctrine” in English, but much better rendered as “On Christian TEACHING”, sets forth an argument for the indispensability of a liberal education for teaching the faith and reading the Bible fruitfully.  As a postscript, participants will also read St. Thomas Aquinas’ mini-treatise “On the Teacher” (from the Disputed Questions on Truth), an intentional response by the Dominican “Dumb Ox” to his great patristic predecessor’s work of the same name.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy

Leader: Dr. Eliot Grasso, Vice President and Tutor, Gutenberg College

When: June 3 – 14 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 1pm – 3pm (AZ), 3pm – 5pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

Imagine that you are imprisoned on trumped up charges awaiting execution. You reflect on your unfortunate situation and ask yourself “Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the virtuous suffer pains and injustices? What is truly good? What is the meaning of life?” This is where the 6th-century Roman philosopher Boethius (AD c. 477-524) was when he penned The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius’s timeless work has been read consistently for centuries giving voice and insight to some of humanity’s most complex questions about fate, fortune, truth, and virtue. In this seminar, we will interact with Boethius’s work to see how one of Western Civilization’s greatest minds responded to these looming questions.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Fairy Stories

Leader: Dr. Junius Johnson, Junius Johnson Academics

When: June 3 – 14 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 11am – 1pm (AZ), 1pm – 3pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

Fairy tales, fairyland, and stories about the Good Folk have held our cultural imagination for centuries, because they are powerful vehicles for confronting deep truths: as much the  glorious wonder of this wild world we inhabit as the dark recesses of the human soul, where our deepest fears lurk and bide their time.  These stories  give us access  to  the depths  of the inner and outer worlds, and offer a symbolic language through which we can discuss our hopes and fears. As importantly, these stories delight us, and that delight is no small part of the courage we need to face the challenges of the daytime world of our everyday experience.

This course will explore a variety of fairy tales and stories featuring fairies.  Each session will be a demonstration through Socratic discussion of the possibilities these stories offer for engaging students in the classroom around urgent questions relevant to the formation of virtue and wisdom. Each session will also be rooted in material delight in the wonders these stories contain.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Lyric Poetry

Leader: Dr. Kathryn Smith, Co-Director, MAT in Classical Education; Assistant Professor of Classical Education, Templeton Honors College

When: June 17 – 28 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 10am – 12pm (AZ), 12pm – 2pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

The modernist poet Ezra Pound describes lyric poetry as the “most concentrated form of verbal expression,” one, we might say, that is best appreciated in the works of poetic masters, those for whom each word in a poem is neither superfluous nor unintended. Indeed, a single conversation about a poem must involve careful attention to the poem’s verbal texture in order to plumb its hidden depths. Coming to understand poetry opens the reader to some of the most important aspects of human experience, and often with time and patience, the most difficult poems reveal themselves. This seminar will focus on ways to understand the various levels of meaning in a poem by exploring the relationship between form and content. Each day will be devoted to a careful reading of some of the greatest lyric poetry in various forms, including: the sonnet, the ode, the elegy, blank verse, and open forms.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Leader: Dr. Joshua Trevino, Former Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies

When: June 4 – 30 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 1pm – 3pm (AZ), 3pm – 5pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

Nietzsche’s parabolic madman is remembered and infamous for proclaiming “God is dead.”  But what is more easily forgotten is the follow-up to the madman’s proclamation: “And we have killed him . . . Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” How to become “great” enough and “godly” enough for that deed, and the meaning of such greatness and godliness, is the question of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the work he considers as his best: “Among my writings my Zarathustra stands to my mind by itself. With that I have given mankind the greatest present that has even been made to it so far.” To begin to test that claim and learn the crowning work of Nietzsche’s philosophy will be the goal of this course.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Plutarch’s Parallel Lives

Leader: Dr. John M. Peterson, Graduate Director of Classical Education, University of Dallas

When: June 4 – 30 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 1pm – 3pm (AZ), 3pm – 5pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

In this course, we will examine “the road to Caesar” through the lives and times of seven Romans from the last century of the Roman republic, when agrarian and military reforms by the Gracchi and Marius, violations of long-established customs, and foreign and civil wars under Marius and Sylla precipitated the rise of Julius Caesar and his establishment in a permanent dictatorship. We will also consider, through the lives of Cicero and Cato the Younger, the failure of all alternatives to Caesarism. Through this lens we will discuss permanent political and historical questions such as the distinction between the few and the many, the virtues of leaders, and the limits of republicanism and empire.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Russian Literature

Leader:Ross Garner, Humanities Teacher, John Adams Academies

When: June 11 – 27 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 8am – 10am (AZ), 10am – 12pm (Central)

Where: Live Zoom Session

During the 19th and 20th centuries, three figures dominated Russian literature: Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were contemporaries, writing during the early modern era as Russia transitioned out of its Tsarist political system and began implementing democratic and later socialist and marxist models. These two authors witnessed and warned against the changes in Russian culture that planted the seeds of discontent and led to the Bolshevik Revolution and rise of communism under Lenin and Stalin. 

Unfortunately Tolstoy and Dostoevsky’s insights proved prophetic for their nation’s future, which Solzhenitsyn lived out, first as a firm believer in the communist vision, and then as its most articulate critic. Taken together, these three great Russian authors bear witness to the rise and fall of one of the most ruthless tyrannies of the modern era–a tyranny, they warn, that is an ever present and potential threat which lies in the hearts of ordinary people. 

While all three are known for their massive literary works of thousands of pages, we will be reading their short stories or excerpts from their non-fiction.

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

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Teaching Shakespeare’s Greatest Plays & Sonnets

Leader: Dr. Joshua Avery, Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies

When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2024

Where: Online

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

Dr. Joshua Avery teaches Shakespeare with the Classical Education Graduate Program at the University of Dallas as well as Humane Letters at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy (Great Hearts). In this course, he guides teachers through Shakespeare’s sonnets as well as seven of his plays, providing key insights into enjoying and understanding these classics with your students. His own teaching experience in a classical upper school as well as training of teachers at the graduate level provide a wealth of practical insights into pedagogical approaches as well as insights into Shakespeare’s works as a literary scholar.

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Reading and Teaching Homer’s Odyssey

Leaders:Dr. Eva Brann and Dr. Hannah Hintze, Tutors, St. John’s College

When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2024

Where: Online

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

In this self-paced course, you will read through Homer’s Odyssey, guided and inspired by St. John’s College tutors Dr. Eva Brann (who has tutored at St. John’s for over 60 years and is the author of Homeric Moments) and her colleague Dr. Hannah Hintze. In addition to hearing from both Dr. Brann and Dr. Hintze on the Odyssey, you will also find four seminars (discussion-based class sessions) on the Odyssey, led by Hannah Hintze and featuring several St. John’s students and another tutor.

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The Teacher’s Playbook: Practical Pedagogy for Classical Educators

Leader: Jerilyn Olson, Chief People Officer, Great Hearts Academies

When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2023

Where: Online

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

In this 12-lesson course Jerilyn Olson connects classical principles to practical techniques that teachers can employ in the classroom.

As Great Hearts has grown from one school of 140 students to 32 schools with over 20,000 students by 2021, Jerilyn has had the opportunity to capture the best practices of teachers across multiple contexts and share those practices with each new campus.  Teachers are truly at the center of every school and teaching is the work of practical wisdom—it is neither a pure philosophical endeavor nor a utilitarian social science. Newer classical school teachers often find it difficult to visualize what good practice looks like in one’s own particular context. Such teachers often hear talk about the Great Tradition, truth beauty goodness, and Platonic ideas but aren’t sure what means in particular for planning tomorrow’s lesson on fractions.

At the same time, practical teaching handbooks that are full of techniques and strategies aren’t easily harmonized with a classical pedagogy. How can we know how and when employ techniques from these sources?

Using classical rhetorical ideas and real-life anecdotes, Jerilyn seeks to bring together the great philosophies of classical education with effective, practical methods that good teachers employ every day.  In these sessions, Jerilyn lays out a vision for practice—a description of what good teaching might look like, and how teachers can organize their ideas around the framework of rhetoric. Along the way, she gives some advice for your ongoing journey in learning good pedagogy, practicing, and getting feedback. Toward the end, she also gives advice to leaders who seek to help guide and develop effective classical teachers.

The course begins with a look at the personal formation every teacher must pursue in order to thrive in the classroom; the course then proceeds to look at how we can establish a classroom culture of order and joy. Finally, Jerilyn explores the classic framework of planning, instruction, and assessment through a classical lens.

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Essentials of Drawing

Leader: Brighton Demerest-Smith, Studio Art Master Teacher, Great Hearts Academies

When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2023

Where: Online

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

In this course, Brighton Demerest-Smith (a classically trained artist and veteran educator with Great Hearts Academies) moves from how to teach the elements of drawing up through still life and master study. Grounded in fundamentals and close observation of subjects, his methods of teaching drawing are traditional and time-tested.

In his work with teachers, Smith champions observational drawing. He limits students to drawing and painting solely from observation. His form of art education is analytical, Socratic, traditional and meant for all levels of students from very beginners to accomplished artists. Smith has carefully crafted a studio art curriculum that builds upon a tradition of drawing and painting which dates back to the 14th century.

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Math for Every Teacher

Leader: Jake Tawney, Chief Academic Officer, Great Hearts Academies

When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2023

Where: Online

Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)

In this course, veteran mathematics teacher and leader Jake Tawney provides a clear and engaging introduction to the beauty of Mathematics. This course does not propose a specific curriculum. It does, however, present a list of “those things from mathematics you should have learned but probably didn’t.” In the opening lessons of the course you will hear that truth is effusive. Upon its discovery truth demands to be shared, and the mathematical proof is the medium through which mathematical truth is communicated. There are certainly no results in this course that Jake Tawney claims as his own, and many of the mathematical proofs are centuries old. These proofs represent, in a small way, some of the best that has been said within the discipline of mathematics.

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