Thursday, June 21, 2018

Why A Study Group?

The health of the United States depends on many factors. In the context of the political and governmental health of the Republic, that health depends on an educated, ethical, informed, and active citizenry. While the Constitution defines, at the federal level, a government of three branches, and further elaborates of the roles and responsibilities of those branches and the States and the People, except in the Preamble, it doesn't really describe the responsibilities of the most important branch of the government - the citizens.


The role of citizen requires each of us to support the Constitution by one's talents, services, and, if necessary, with one's life. Such a requirement presupposes a knowledge of the Constitution and that's one of the gaols of this website and the Study Groups, the subject of this section of the website.

So, what is a study group? A study group is pretty much what it sounds like. A group of individuals, conducting a period of individual personal study and then coming together, in the group, to discuss the material covered privately.

A constitutional study group enables it's members to further their knowledge of the Founding, Founders, and Founding Documents in a learning environment along the lines to those of the Padeia approach to study articulated by Dr. Mortimer Adler in his book The Padeia Proposal. (For a listing of Dr. Adler's books on Amazon, click here.) In a general way with regard to the Constitution, that approach is divided into three inter-related components:

  1. The acquisition of information on the Founding, Founders, and Founding documents.
  2. The development of skills using reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  3. Enlargement of understanding by means of Socratic questioning and active participation.

While step one can be realized, to a good degree, by an individual using personal readings and study, steps two and three are difficult, if not impossible, through individual efforts. A study group can enable and foster individual growth in steps two and three.

Why would one want to join a study group?

A study group is a an excellent way to delve more deeply what one learns as a result of private study. The challenges in being required to rephrase ideas and concepts in one's own words while participating in a collegial environment will enhance your process of assimilating what you've learned. It's the first step in nurturing your intellectual growth - transforming "information" you've acquired into a more sophisticated degree of the intellectual universe - that of "understanding."

A study group expands your constellation of acquaintances - some with whom you'll agree and some not - but doing so in a civil environment that can result in the development of new friends. The interaction amongst the members of the group results in an expanded appreciation of the ideas and values via the philosophical technique of Socratic questioning and active participation in the discussion.

Taking one's involvement in the group seriously  offers motivation to maintain the commitment to the study material and one's effort to more deeply appreciate the material.

Finally, the end result is a meaningful goal - making oneself a better, more informed, citizen.

Not everything will be rosey in any study group. Some signals that one's study group is not on a proper heading are:

One finds themselves in a group that wastes time gossiping or otherwise loss focus on the goal of the group.

One finds themselves as an "expert" and spending most of the time teaching others. While flattering, if one finds themselves feeling their time is being wasted and not furthering their own body of know;edge, one is.

On an opposite side, if one finds they're not understanding the material and essential concepts, it's likely that others are on the same tack. This is particularly perilous if other members of the group think they have an understanding of the material and try to convince others of their misunderstanding. If one's internals sense the group's views are wrong, be careful, and ask the group leader for assistance.

One finds that the other members of the group are mostly unprepared - don't waste the time - find another group.

In sum, a study group is an effective, social, and enjoyable way to further one's appreciation of the Constitution, all the while making one a better citizen.

Good luck!

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