first aspect of The Academy is now online.
Do you need someone to
- bounce ideas off of?
- open your eyes to new vistas?
- inspire you to be everything you can
Then take a course in the Realize
It's tough to find time to sit in classes,
or travel to meet teachers. With the Internet, you can now
study deeply with a like-minded companion on our
own schedule. These courses will help you learn more
about yourself and make a
connection to the deeper meanings of life, without requiring you to make huge commitments of time or
I hope you will consider studying with
The possibilities are literally
infinite. Here are some categories to help you think about
the kind of course you might want to take:
- Books Ancient and Modern: Sacred Texts as
Literature, The Great Books of the World, Today's
Bestsellers...from the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Greek
tragedies and Shakespeare, to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, all
the way to The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter
- Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales: King Arthur,
Frazer's The Golden Bough, Grimm's Fairy Tales and
- World Religions: The faith and practices of the
world's great Wisdom traditions
- Films: From timeless classics like The Wizard of
Oz, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Disney's
animated myths, to the latest installments of Harry Potter, The
Lord of the Rings, and now The Chronicles of Narnia,
films can teach us while entertaining us.
- Topics: Life, Hate, Love, Death, Man, Woman...exploring
a topic in depth can give you insights into your own life
||For native speakers of English, the
courses above are offered as a means of exploring important
ideas. My exchange and feedback will address the quality
of the thoughts expressed.
But much of my life has been spent with non-native
speakers. For them, lessons can be designed that address,
not the quality of thoughts, but the quality of expression.
The emphasis, then, will be on improving written English.
Other, simpler, lessons will also be offered in the mechanics
of writing and elementary composition.
Needless to say, such courses are not for beginners.
All communication, like this page, will be in English.
||Generally, 4 to 10 lessons will be
available in each course. Courses based on films will generally
be comprised of a
||A typical course
will proceed like
and pay for it
lessons, answering one question per week
follow-up questions, if any (optional)
course on time
- You choose a course, write to me, and
arrange to send payment
for the course. You acquire the books or
films necessary to complete the course at your own
expense (but on-line alternatives are given when available).
- When the lessons are agreed on and the payment received,
I send you a course schedule and the first lesson. Each lesson is usually meant to take you about one week.
The schedule, then, is
based on the number of lessons plus two-to-four weeks for
unforeseen circumstances. After the "final due
date" I will not accept any more responses unless you
have requested an extension and received permission.
- Each lesson contains some background information, a
reading or viewing assignment, and several questions.
You do the appropriate reading and respond in
writing to one question, with an answer of less than
500 words (about one page typed single-spaced). You
are free to modify the questions to suit your
needs, and may therefore combine the ideas of two or more
questions into one answer. However, only one
cohesive answer will be responded to for any individual
- I respond to your answer, usually within
72 hours of receipt. If there is some reason (such as
travel) that I will not be able to respond within the
set time, I will generally notify you of this well
in advance. In the event that I do not respond
within 72 hours, one day will be added to your
"final due date" for each day's delay.
- Occasionally I may ask you for a follow-up
answer to some point I have made in responding to the
first answer. It is entirely at your discretion whether to make this second response, and
I may or may not answer this second response.
- I will continue to send out lessons at the rate of one
per week, whether you have sent in the answers to
previous lessons or not. If you have fallen
behind, these lessons may be accompanied by a note reminding
you of impending deadlines.
- If you have Microsoft Word, it is preferred that
assignments be sent as Word documents. I will use
the "track changes" feature to respond, allowing
you to easily distinguish my remarks. If you do not have this software,
you may answer within the
body of an e-mail, and I will respond likewise.
- Either upon completion of all assignments, or at the
"final due date," I will write you a
final appraisal. This will be a brief evaluation of
the work completed, and a suggestion for further
study. It will also serve as evidence of completion.
||Generally, courses are priced
according to this formula:
$20US for course registration
$15US for each individual lesson
Thus, a single lesson (such as for a film) would cost $35
($20 + $15). A course comprised of six lessons would be
$110 ($20 + [6 x $15]).
Here is a table of approximate
equivalencies at current exchange rates:
To calculate the cost of any course in
your currency, try the XE Universal Currency Converter.
Various methods of payment can be arranged, the most
convenient of these being PayPal.
fide residents of mainland China, the Philippines, or places
with similar economies may apply for a reduction in fees.
||For students to complete the courses
the following must usually be true:
- The student has regular access to a computer with an
internet connection; Microsoft Word is advised but not
- The student can spend 2-6 hours a week on the lessons,
including reading and writing time
- The student has sufficient English skills to understand
written communication and to write standard English (but at
a simpler level for courses with an English emphasis )
- The student is motivated to complete all lessons in a
- It is advised that students read the
Foundations essays before enrolling in any course
the name "The Academy" after much reflection.
I knew that this was the name
of Plato's school, and that his teaching method was based on the
idea of mutual inquiry. I have always enjoyed the
kind of teaching where teacher and students together grope their
way toward the truth.
A little bit of research turned
article from an old Theosophy magazine.
It is part of a larger collection of essays called Word
Puzzles. The author wrote (in part):
Plato held symposia in a grove of trees near Athens, known
as the Academia. But Plato...did not seek to impart specific
learning so much as he endeavored to awaken the evaluative
capacities of his students. The symposium of Plato's academy
was an occasion for free thought, in contradistinction
to all rigid lines of indoctrination. ...
If the original Platonic usage of academy were still
current, however, our professors and teachers would be more
likely to consider themselves as discussion leaders and
companions than as authoritative instructors. ...
When Plato selected the grove known as the Academia,
utilizing its leafy arbors to shelter Pythagorean discourse,
he found it already named in mythology. As one word-origin
expert describes it, the Academia received its name from a
farmer named Academus who, in a famous legend, showed the twin
brothers Castor and Pollux where to look for their kidnapped
sister, Helen of Troy. As a farmer, perhaps, Academus
represents that unobtrusive knowingness which many associate
with "qualities of heart," as opposed to spectacular
accomplishments of the intellect. ...
Look at the ideas here: "... a grove of trees...to
awaken the evaluative capacities of his students...free
thought...teachers ... as discussion leaders and
These phrases capture exactly the kind of teaching I
love the most. Furthermore, the word "academy" is rooted,
not in science, but in mythology, and that Academus was a farmer
adds the "qualities of heart" so essential in
(C) 2006 James Baquet