“It was really exciting to me to watch the evolution of [my students’] thinking and then their ability to listen to one another and change their opinions…you begin to see the students develop a new respect for one another in terms of the kinds of comments and observations there able to make.”
Since its very beginning in 1984, Touchstones has attracted interest from schools throughout the U.S. and abroad. In a Touchstones discussion, students of all backgrounds and academic abilities improve skills that help them succeed in school, work, and life. Students’ apply these new skills in other classes, transforming the environment dramatically. As students build respect for one another, they become increasingly aware that everyone has valuable strengths and skills.
Touchstones is the only discussion program that teaches students to teach themselves and others and to assume responsibility for leadership and class outcomes. In their once weekly 45-minute-long class, students progress through the Touchstones Four Stages by using the texts and the discussion process to become active learners. Touchstones addresses the gap between schoolwork and everyday life, as students recognize the relevance of their experiences to education and the world around them. As students learn to express and reflect on their ideas and those of their peers, they gain self-confidence and a greater sense of value and self-respect, which leads to greater respect for others.
Touchstones discussions programs are implemented in public, independent, and parochial schools, as well as in homeschool co-ops, enrichment and after-school programs. The need for the skills that Touchstones develops in all learners is recognized in suburban, rural, and inner-city communities. Touchstones helps teachers, coordinators, resource and instructional specialists, and administrators meet their goals—whether those tied to Common Core State Standards, state-specific learning standards, Social and Emotional Learning goals or other outcomes in which civility, critical thinking, collaboration, and discussion-based learning are valued.