There are always some areas of disagreement, but the author's primary points are usually fairly clear.How in the world can there be agreement on what the author intended, though?
That's its own can of worms! It's mostly philosophical writings, though, so it was fairly clear what the primary points were.And what is the point of trying to figure out what the author intended, when literature truly is all about interpretation? Sure, there are underlying themes that can be obvious, but there are a million ways to interpret a work of fiction, and all can be valid, given that the interpreter can use passages as support for their interpretation.
I'm sure that many felt stifled by the rules. People want to talk about what they want to talk about. The point of the class in my mind was to explore how other people think, to actually understand a perspective before feeling free to criticize it. Also I should mention this was a class for high school seniors, not college or graduate school, so a more strict format was in order, enforcing general rules of discussion so that the discussion could happen at all, not to stifle speech.That sounds an awful lot like "finding a solution" to a book rather than enjoying it for what it is, and allowing for personal interpretation. I bet many people in that class felt intellectually stifled by those rules. And some others were probably grateful they didn't have to actually think on their own, because they'd be given the "correct" answers if they'd just wait.
Sometimes finding a solution and having closure isn't the most desirable thing.
As for "solutions" and "correct answers," you are assuming too much from my neat and tidy description of the class. My point was to focus on the process of first understanding ideas in context, and then criticizing them either within their own context or based on other contexts, and I highlighted these rather than spend several paragraphs describing the ebb and flow of discussion in the class.
Let's just say we didn't find a solution to Marx's Communist Manifesto or Nietzsche's Twilight of the Gods!