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Study Questions for

Willis Nutting, The Free City

Due: Friday at 8pm

Read: Willis Nutting, The Free City
(chapters 1 through 4)



You should plan on reading this twice. (You will probably want to print out these chapters because it is much easier to read on paper than on a screen.) It might be a good idea to time yourself reading one page, then multiply that times 100 pages, to see how long it will take you to read the whole assignment. (For example, if you read one page in two minutes figure that you will need more than three hours, at a minimum, to read through 100 pages.) As you read you should underline, highlight, make notes in the margin or in a reading journal, etc. You will want to note passages, specific terms or paragraphs that strike you as important, interesting, confusing, or puzzling. You may want to share some of these with your seminar group.

Make a list of words, names, foreign language phrases, etc that are new to you and that you looked up in a dictionary. A good reader will have a dictionary available and look up several words in each section of reading.

Your objective here is more than to just get through these pages, more than just a passive read to generally familiarize yourself with the topic. Instead your purpose should be to explore this work to see what you can discover in it. To do this you will need to first understand what the author is saying. Why did s/he write it? Where does the author state the major questions or problems that s/he is trying to address?

In addition to identifying the questions the author is addressing, the next step is to identify what the author is claiming. What assertions is the author making? What are the author's answers to the above questions? In this process you should identify major concepts the author uses and how s/he labels and defines them. What does Nutting mean, for example, when he uses phrases such as: fragmented truth, dialogue, liberal arts, great realities, ways of knowing, wisdom, and understanding? Keep a list of these concepts and the specific pages where they are used. You don't have to agree with Nutting's concepts, but you do need to understand what he means when he uses them.

You will need to be able to point to specific passages. For example, on page 3 Nutting says that “we have not seriously concerned ourselves with the problem of what higher education is, what it should accomplish...." On page 4 he says “There is little discussion of how or whether the training necessary to produce the expert develops the mind to its fullest capacity or of how or whether such education makes men better civic leaders.” On page 7 he states “Here, now, is the central question: Is the specialist scholar...the best example of the well developed mind?”...” On page 8 he talks about trying “to construct a plan of liberal education.” And finally on page 25 he clearly reveals “We come now to the principal purpose of this book: a discussion of the kind of educational institution in which an effective dialogue can be established and maintained.”

The study questions below should be posted into the Study Questions folder (week one) in our FirstClass classroom:

1. Make a list of words you needed to look up in a dictionary and explain (very briefly) what you now understand them to mean.

2. Make a list of 10 of Nutting's important concepts and the labels or phrases he uses to identify them. Include page numbers where you found them.

. From each chapter (1-4) choose two of the most important passages and write them out verbatim, including quote marks and page citation using MLA (Modern Language Association) format.

Here's an example:

“The expert and the potential civic leader need education as men [human beings]—and this is called liberal education—before they start to fulfill their special functions; and liberal education must be that which helps them become wise and understanding” (5).
(Note the proper citation form: quotation marks, parenthses, page number, and period placement. Our writing resource page can help you with citation form if you need it.)

. Explain in your own words a) what each passage means (this is known as explication) and b) why you think it is important.

As a general rule this quarter, you are expected to read all postings from all students (and instructors) posted in all folders. There will be two exceptions to this rule, however.

1) After you are assigned to one of the two seminar groups, Diane's or Tom's, you will be required to read and respond to only the messages in your own seminar group, not the messages in the other seminar group. (You will certainly be free to read the postings in the other seminar group if you like, but it is not required.) And

2) since all forty students will be posting their Study Question answers to the same Study Questions folder, that would end up being an awful lot of SQs for each of you to have to read. So here's what we're proposing to solve that problem: you will be required to read at least half of the postings each week in that folder, not all of the SQ postings. You can pick which half of the messages you want to read, and which of those you want to respond to, but the assignment is to read 50% of the postings in the SQs folder.

Aside from these two exceptions, though, everyone is expected to read all postings in all folders.