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The Academy
Online Courses

The first aspect of The Academy is now online.
Join The Sutra Study!

Courses..........English Emphasis..........The Name
Course Length..........Procedure..........Fees..........Prerequisites

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Dear Friends,

Do you need someone to 

  • bounce ideas off of?
  • open your eyes to new vistas?
  • inspire you to be everything you can be?

Then take a course in the Realize Academy!

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 money.

I hope you will consider studying with me.

Peace,
James

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Courses

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 more
  • 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

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English Emphasis 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.

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Course Length Generally, 4 to 10 lessons will be available in each course.  Courses based on films will generally be comprised of a single lesson.

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Procedure A typical course will proceed like this:

The Condensed Version

  • Choose a course

  • "Register" and pay for it

  • Do the lessons, answering one question per week

  • Read my responses

  • Answer follow-up questions, if any (optional)

  • Complete course on time

  • Receive final appraisal

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  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 lesson.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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Fees 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:

Number of
Lessons
US
Dollars
Chinese
Yuan
Japanese
Yen
Philippine
Pesos
1 $35 280 4,000 1,870
6 $110 880 12,800 5,880

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.

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Bona fide residents of mainland China, the Philippines, or places with similar economies may apply for a reduction in fees.
Prerequisites 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 essential
  • 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 timely manner
  • It is advised that students read the Foundations essays before enrolling in any course

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The Name I chose 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 up this 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 companions..."

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 spiritual teaching.

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..Contents (C) 2006 James Baquet

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