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Academics: Curriculum | Reading | Writing

One Course at a Time

  • We tackle four broad interdisciplinary themes, each in a month-long segment of study: the Natural World, the Social World, the Human Person, and Religious Faith.
  • Within these segments, we split our time between core reading and independent research projects.
  • Students receive three or four semester hours of credit in each segment based on their projects. Students complete research in the discipline of their choice: literature, psychology, sociology, philosophy, biology, theology, biblical studies, history, education, science, political science, art, and communications.

View a complete list of  OE Course Titles.

The Core

Core reading and discussion make up the first half of each of our segments. Our work during the core rests on a selection of engaging contemporary bookslectures that elaborate on the reading’s themes, and small discussion groups that allow students to connect their reading to their personal experiences.

Core Books

  • Our readings change from year to year, reflecting new emphases. Check out a sample of our recent reading lists to get a sense of the kind of social, philosophical, and political issues that have challenged and excited us.
  • Around 100 pages of reading are assigned each night, Monday through Thursday. We do not have exams at the OE. Instead, we either ask students to take notes or to complete short written assignments during the core.
  • Since we work hard during the week, we give students the weekends off during the core, with time to explore the campus, the Monument, and the Ashland area.

Discussion Groups

  • Each Tuesday through Friday, we gather in small groups — 5 or 6 students, one faculty person —  to talk about the day’s reading assignment.
  • We explore the issues raised at the point where the text meets the experience of each student. These genuine encounters empower students to speak their minds and hearts freely. By semester’s end, the students report that they are more confident engaging primary texts and conversing about their ideas.

Daily Schedule during the Core Weeks

  • 9-9:15:  prelude
  • 9:15-10:30:  lecture
  • 10:30-11:  break
  • 11-12:30:  small group discussion
  • Afternoon:  time to complete reading and written assignments

Click here for a more detailed look at the OE daily schedule.

The Project

Students spend the second half of each segment completing an independent research project that falls within the overarching theme of the segment. While this project culminates with a research paper and a small group presentation, just as important are students’  broad reading and their daily meetings with a faculty advisor.

  • Each project begins with students selecting a topic that provides credit in the academic discipline desired. Students may select from topics suggested by faculty members or design a project in coordination with the OE faculty and their home school advisor.
  • During the project period, we do not meet for classes. Students dedicate each day to reading about their chosen topic.
  • For up to an hour each day, students meet privately with their faculty advisor to engage in conversation about their work, ask questions, and receive guidance.
  • At the end of this period, students write a paper exploring some aspect of their thinking on the topic they have chosen. They spend two days revising and editing, in response to their faculty advisor’s suggestions.
  • The project period ends with several days of small group presentations, where students lead discussions on their research with their peers and a faculty member.

The Break

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