Leaders seldom ask a new participant direct questions. If you are asked about the text, it is usually because the leader thinks you’ve got something to say. These discussions are based upon respect. This means respecting what other says or their decision not to comment. Don’t feel put on the spot, it seldom happens, but if it does and you would rather pass, that is perfectly okay.
You can be as quiet as a mouse, but we’re guessing you’ll have something to say! Participation is up to you. A simple “let me think on that” is an easy way to let the others in the group that you’re not ready or haven’t developed your ideas about the reading. And that is perfectly acceptable.
We would love to have you for each and every discussion! But we understand that today’s schedules are hectic, weather, kids, family… the list goes on. Come whenever you can. You’ll always be welcome.
See our Shared Inquiry page for basic information about the expectations for leaders and group members.
Group leaders are facilitators, not lecturers: they start the discussion by asking an interpretive question about the text, thereby leading the group into interaction among participants. A Great Books discussion is meant to flow like a conversation, with participants addressing and questioning each other directly. When necessary, the leader draws the group back to the text for evidence to support interpretations. This helps keep people focused on the text and free from going off on tangents or inapplicable generalizations. You’ll be surprised at the deep, thoughtful, civil, rich, interesting, illuminating, entertaining discussions that ensue!
Each group is different; some groups purchase their books or find the readings online. However, many follow one of the Great Books Foundation’s anthologies which can be purchased directly from the Great Books Foundation at: http://store.greatbooks.org/book-groups-colleges/great-books.html