About St. John's College: Santa Fe
The Curriculum: The Tutorial
The seminar cannot suffice as the only setting for liberal education. By its very nature, the seminar does not give the student an opportunity to cultivate the habits of methodical and careful study and of persistently precise discussion and writing. Other learning devices must therefore support it; these are the tutorials in language, mathematics and music. For each of four years, a student attends one language and one mathematics tutorial three times a week. Sophomores also attend a music tutorial.
In the tutorials, around a table, about thirteen to sixteen students study and learn together under the direct guidance and instruction of a tutor. The tutorial provides conditions for a small group to work together toward a careful analysis, often through translation or demonstration, of an important work. As in the seminar, students talk freely with one another and with the tutor, but the discussion focuses sharply on assigned tasks. There are opportunities for all students to contribute their measure of instruction and insight to their fellows. Other tutors often attend, seeking to learn about a particular subject that they may later teach.
Writing assignments are normally made in all classes: mathematics, music, and laboratory sections, as well as in language tutorials. The students are thus called upon continually to articulate and organize their thinking in both the written and spoken forms.