Until relatively recently, the "lecture hall" approach to education was very rare. For thousands of years, students met with their teachers in one-on-one settings, most usually supplemented with rigorous discussion in small groups of other thoughtful and interested students. Today, this type of education is most frequently referred to as the "Oxford model," and at Saint Constantine College, it plays out primarily in three ways.
It’s what students like John Milton, C. S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers received: one-on-one tutorials with expert faculty.
Our students meet weekly with professors to share their writing and research on the Great Texts, receiving individualized feedback on their personal academic projects. This individual tutorial model worked for centuries to develop top student-leaders at universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and it still works today at Saint Constantine in Houston.
Supplementing the individual tutorials are weekly Socratic group discussions, where cohorts of students rigorously discuss the Great Texts. Interdisciplinary, dialectical, and holistic, the group discussion is where the friendship and camaraderie at the heart of Saint Constantine are honed and strengthened through focused, sustained conversation about the most important texts, questions, and ideas in history.
Twice each semester, students also gather with the wider Saint Constantine community for an all-day discussion of a particular text from our curriculum. During these Keystone weeks, from dawn to dusk (and often later), professors and students discuss The Republic, The Divine Comedy, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and more, expanding their dialectical endurance, and celebrating texts that form the backbone of the Great Texts canon.
The Don Rag
In keeping with the Oxford model, the most important form of evaluation within our program is the don rag.
Once every semester, the student will meet with the tutors for an oral examination. Students are questioned on the texts they have read, the essays they have written, and on their critical and interpretive opinions. These are not a litmus test of content memorization, but rather an encouragement to the students to comprehensively approach their learning; to be able to articulate the ideas they come across during the course of their education, and their own analysis and response to those ideas.