The Great Tradition—Reading and Writing with Dr. Jeng
A&Q 1: What’s the aim of this class?
The aim of this class is to read the writings of great minds, to be connected to the classical liberal tradition, to listen to the sounds of the most beautiful language, to nestle in the bosom of the most noble thoughts. This class will serve as a bridge to the Great Tradition of the world, with the instructor playing the role of a tour guide. In a word, we befriend the ancient sages.
A & Q 2: Why grades 7 and 8?
Eighth or seventh graders are in their formative age, an ideal time for fertilizing the soils of their personality, mind, and spirit. Students in grades 5 or 6 are still too young; those in grades 9 and 10, too occupied with various activities; those in grades 11 or 12, too late for any vain hope of reformation! Young minds in grades 7 or 8—active, curious, playful, defiant of authority but still too green to rebel, yet always ready for spiritual mentors—are in a golden stage for their mental sensitivity, receptivity, susceptibility, and malleability.
七八年級正在人生的所謂形成期（formative age）, 正是思想人格心靈精神沃土的理想播種時期，五六年級太稚嫩，九十年級太忙碌，十一年級太蒼老，唯有這七八兩年間宛如黃金歲月般，好奇，好動，好玩，正開始要學會叛逆，但未成精，他們需要也渴求精神導師。
A & Q 3: How will the course be taught?
Twenty percent of the class hour will be spent on vocabulary building, which should be an on-going process before they finish their college education. The rest of the time will be used to do a close reading of Dr. Jeng’s selected writings, followed by writing a mini-essay in response to an idea or a thought expressed in the writing. The approach is one of close reading accompanied with substantive writing to extract as much as possible the essence of the passages under study.
A & Q 4: How long will the course be?
The course can be as short as one year, or as long as two years, depending on their ages. Those who cannot or will not persevere should make room for those who are willing to commit.
A & Q 4: Will this course help their test-taking skills?
Yes, eventually, when water fills up a pond, it overflows by itself; when efforts have accumulated sufficiently, the results will appear accordingly. This is a course for thinking, reading, writing, and conversing with ancient authors, as well as a time for cultivating reading skills.
A & Q 4: How many students will be in the class?
This class will accommodate only eight to ten students.