Thomas Aquinas College in California has a good curriculum. While I do not advocate the Socratic method as a fundamental method of teaching, as they say they use it on their Website — though it is a very effective tool, if properly used as a secondary method to lecture and direct instruction — I do like their use of the “Great Books.” Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, authors of The Well-Trained Mind, also advocate reading the “Great Books.” The Well Trained Mind has lists of recommended books; Thomas Aquinas College has a list on their Website, as well. On the curriculum page of TAC’s Website, they say:
The textbooks that most colleges and universities use are soon outdated; they quickly go out of fashion and are discarded. New ways to think about things unceasingly replace the old. Yet a consensus exists among generations of thinkers and writers that certain works have enduring relevance. They never go out of style. Why is this?
Lucretius was a Roman poet and philosopher who 2,000 years ago wrote a treatise called “On the Nature of Things.” This title could well describe any of the Great Books. These works – whether philosophy or science, history or drama – describe things as they really are. They reveal the reality at the core of human experience, a reality that – regardless of time or place – does not change. A person hungry for wisdom can return to these books over and over again without exhausting their meaning. These are the books that have the power to shape human events and to change lives.
The following is a list of works read in whole or in part in the College’s curriculum. They are not all of equal weight. Some are regarded as masterworks, while others serve as sources of opinions that either lead students to the truth, or make the truth more evident by opposition to it.