The Four Rules of Shared Inquiry Discussion

I have a link to the Great Books Society website on the right. I am certified by this group to lead group discussions, or shared inquiries. I really enjoy doing these, and I follow the rules religiously. I thinking doing these from time to time has actually made me much more open minded. It has taught me to search for ideas in what other say rather than assume that only my ideas are important.

In any case, although these rules are designed for a group considering a written work, I believe it would be wonderful if we applied them to our national discourse.

1. Only those who have read the selection may take part in discussion.
Participants who have not read the selection cannot support their opinions with evidence from the text, nor can they bring a knowledge of the text to bear on the opinions of others.

2. Discussion is restricted to the selection that everyone has read.
This rule gives everyone an equal chance to contribute, because it limits discussion to a selection that all participants are familiar with and have before them. When the selection is the sole focus of discussion, everyone can determine whether facts are accurately recalled and opinions adequately supported.

3. Support for opinions should be found within the selection.
Participants may introduce outside opinions only if they can restate the opinions in their own words and support the ideas with evidence from the selection. This rule encourages participants to read carefully and think for themselves.

4. Leaders may only ask questions—they may not answer them.
Leaders help themselves and participants understand a selection by asking questions that prompt thoughtful inquiry.


2 replies on “The Four Rules of Shared Inquiry Discussion”

That is a really good idea, particularly because the Bill of Rights is a list of limitations on Congress. Before we did even routine operations in nuclear power we would go over the Precautions & Limitations.

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