A student can learn many things in a lecture, but if she spends an entire month reading Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men without ever being asked her opinion about euthanasia, has she truly read it? She may learn the science behind stem cell research or the habits of Napoleon’s army, but if she isn’t given the chance to discuss the ethics of war or biology as they relate to these subjects, has she truly mastered them?
The Covenant Roundtable is our guarantee that all Rhetoric School students are given the chance to constructively discuss the key ideas of their texts and curriculums. Developed by our faculty through years of training, experience, and research, the Roundtable is a lively and rigorous student-run, teacher-graded conversation. In keeping with our Classical pedagogy, the Roundtable asks students to do more than memorize facts or ask the occasional question: it places them in an exciting but demanding discussion, similar to a graduate-level humanities class or an executive board meeting.
Used across our Rhetoric School curriculums, Covenant Roundtables are in-class activities assigned by the faculty. At strategic points in their curriculums, our teachers pose questions designed to challenge or deepen a class’ understanding of a relevant topic, and elect a student leader to facilitate the conversation that follows. Using our customized tracking materials, the students chart key data about the conversation, such as participation, text references, allusions to other texts, excellent quotations, and comments-per-student. Afterward, the leader and trackers share their data, and use it to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the discussion with their classmates. Finally, the teacher, who has been supervising and even joining the discussion at beneficial moments, gives the class detailed feedback, and assigns an individualized or class-wide grade.
A mainstay of our Rhetoric Curriculum, the Covenant Roundtable builds confident expression, interpersonal skills, and academic rigor. Consistently cited by parents and graduates as one of our most exciting and beneficial distinctives, it exemplifies the connection between our Classical values and the demands of the modern professional world.