The Touchstones Discussion Project
A Revolution in Modern Education
Touchstones has been called the democratization of education because our discussion-based programs develop thinking and collaboration at the highest levels for all students, regardless of their economic or educational background. For 30 years, Touchstones’ primary focus has been to address gaps in education in K-12 schools by teaching educators and students to use structured dialogue to activate and enliven their thinking and build cooperation and leadership.
Breaking News in Touchstones
The Touchstones® Discussion Project announces it has been awarded a grant for veterans’ programs from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Division of Education Programs: Dialogues on the Experience of War. Starting September 2017, Touchstones will initiate three discussion groups as part of its program titled, “Completing the Odyssey, A Journey Home.” Groups will be led by and will include military veterans in the greater Annapolis-Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area.
In this nine-session program, veterans will explore parallels between modern service and ancient conflicts. Participants will apply their leadership skills, connect with fellow veterans, and use discussion to reflect upon their service as members of our larger community. They will also complete personal narrative projects about their experiences in service for the Veteran’s History Project, a permanent collection housed at the Library of Congress. Public registration will open in early August 2017 for programs beginning in mid-September. Touchstones is proud to include and serve veterans in its outreach. Please note that any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this web page do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Developing essential skills For the 21st Century
Since 1984, Touchstones has trained and supported more than 20,000 teachers and placed more than 380,000 instructional volumes into classrooms in every state in the U.S. and in 38 countries. Our instructional volumes are translated into six languages. More than five million people have benefited from Touchstones’ innovative approach to education. Nearly three decades ahead of the development of the Common Core State Standards, Touchstones was providing proven curricula that develop and strengthen essential 21st century skills. Touchstones programs effectively address greater than 95% of the Common Core State Standards and other national standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and the new standards for collaborative discussion in Mathematics and Science.
BUILDING COGNITIVE AND SOCIO-BEHAVIORAL SKILLS WITH COLLABORATIVE DISCOURSE
In Touchstones programs, all participants learn to use texts, personal experiences, and the discussion process itself as tools (touchstones) to foster the communication and cognitive skills most needed in our highly fluid and interconnected world. Unlike traditional or Socratic Seminar environments that often remain teacher-mediated or directed, in Touchstones classes students develop leadership skills and assume responsibility for inclusive outcomes in a truly student-centered learning environment. Students gain self-knowledge and the ability to work with others to address complex problems, as well as issues in human dynamics. Because all people need these skills for success in the 21st century, Touchstones reaches well beyond the K-12 classroom. Dozens of colleges and universities now include Touchstones in their course offerings. Executive leaders, too, discover the immediate benefits of learning to explore and solve problems through collaborative discourse. As a social venture non-profit, Touchstones’ work also extends to programming with prisoners, senior citizens, and others who wish to build greater connection and community as life-long learners.
Through the Touchstones Discussion Project’s innovative and revolutionary approach to teaching, school culture is transformed, teachers and students’ thinking and interactions are enlivened, self-confidence and efficacy are strengthened, and incidences of bullying and feelings of isolation are reduced. People become meaningfully connected as they learn to be active agents in their own education, seek and appreciate diverse perspectives, and share power and responsibility.