Shared Inquiry™ enables educators and learners to explore the information, ideas, and meaning in everything they read.

At the heart of Shared Inquiry are interpretive questions that have more than one plausible answer, enabling educators and students to engage in insightful conversations about complex texts. Prompted by the skilled questioning of the discussion leader, learners gain a deeper understanding of a text by collaborating and sharing ideas.

In a Shared Inquiry discussion, participants embark on an active search for meaning in a work. The journey begins with a close reading, followed by exploratory questions and open-ended dialogue. Rather than looking for a “right” answer, discussion leaders provide direction and guidance to promote thinking, listening, and responding to questions and comments from others in the group.

All successful Shared Inquiry sessions follow these five guidelines:

  • Participants must read the text carefully before the discussion.
  • The entire group discusses the ideas in the text and explores them fully.
  • Participants support interpretations of the text with evidence from the text, not their own opinions.
  • Everyone listens carefully to the other participants and responds to them directly.
  • The leader asks questions rather than offering their own interpretations of the text.

High School Great Books Discussion

“When I meet other grammar-school friends who were involved in Great Books, they speak about the experience with the same kind of reverence for how it shaped their way of thinking and talking about a text, their understanding of how to approach a piece of literature, and their adult reading choices. The Shared Inquiry method that we encountered as adolescents had a profound and powerful impact on us.”

Lee Pilgrim
Junior Great Books® Participant