Why Rhetoric?

High school literature discussion

What is “rhetoric?” The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines this term “The art of speaking or writing effectively.

I desire my teens to develop excellent communication skills. I am thankful for Tapestry of Grace (ToG) because this curriculum shares my goals. Emphasizing the development of mature rhetoric skills, ToG excels at high-school instruction. The literature is challenging and full of themes to examine. I’m thankful that church history and world history exists together. As we discuss “his story,” morality, God’s law, sin, redemption, and grace are intermingled with wars, rulers, power, and people groups. We compare and contrast. Sometimes we debate; yet, we respect one another. Opposing sides in a debate often reveal unexplored themes. This leads to more discussion and more communication. All the while, rhetorical skills are strengthened.

Is the material challenging? Absolutely! Students at the rhetoric level read college-level material. They write weekly essays as well as several research papers their junior and senior years.

Is Tapestry of Grace fun for high schoolers? We think so. Here, my oldest daughter delivers the last of a seven-minute humorous speech. She is Hera from the Iliad.

To take a classic piece of literature and write from a character’s point of view clearly portrays understanding of story. It’s true that the Iliad requires concentration and discussion. Yet Tapestry’s well-laid-out plans aid discussion leaders. The teacher’s notes are thorough. This results in high-school students who can read, analyze and understand the great works… and even write snarky speeches about them 🙂

My 9th grader's first research paper

Not only do rhetoric students learn to articulate their ideas through the spoken word, but they do so in written form as well. Weekly, the writing instruction aids them in assimilating material read and putting ideas to paper. The Tapestry model of “read, discuss, write” is beneficial at every stage of development. For rhetoric students, however,  such practice prepares them for college-level writing. We often implement the essays on the evaluations for timed-SAT practice. Doing so has helped my students grow accustomed to writing while the timer ticks. They are learning to write from their literature experiences which I have no doubt will improve this timed-essay-SAT skill. My high school students are becoming excellent writers, and I thank Tapestry of Grace for its emphasis on this component in their curriculum.

Why learn to express ideas through speaking and writing? Why is this even important? Is it to do well on the SAT essay? To get into college? To make friends laugh at a humorous speech? To win an argument? I think not.

My children may or may not attend college, but whatever God has for their future will require persuasive, articulate speaking and writing skills. Competence in these areas is necessary, be they a doctor or homemaker, carpenter or missionary. No doubt, communication is a life skill. Ultimately, however, my goal for my children is for them to possess the ability to articulate the love of Christ to others.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” -1Peter 3:15

I’m thankful that I see my rhetoric students developing excellent communication skills, and I’m thankful for the academic role Tapestry of Grace plays in their lives. I know God has a beautiful plan for their future, and it is a blessing to daily watch them develop. As they learn to communicate well, I am overcome with joy. I have no doubt God is preparing them not only for their future professions but also “to be ready to give an answer..”

My lovely rhetoric daughters and some Tapestry essays


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One Response to “Why Rhetoric?”

  1. Beth Says:

    Hi,
    I am interested in using the Tapestry curriculum for two of my teenage daughters (one in 8th grade and the other in 11th grade) and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer some questions? We have used the Classical Conversations curriculum thus far, but we’re looking for something that would equal a more relaxed year of schooling due to our hectic schedules and the need for more family time. How much time per day did (or do) your children in the rhetoric and dialectic stage spend on their homework? How many essays are expected per week? Is it a relatively flexible curriculum for those hectic and unstable schedules? How might I contact any possible co-ops in my area if they do exist? Did you have any concerns or frustrations with the curriculum that I should be made aware of before making my decision? Did you find the rhetoric discussions difficult without a co-op or fellow peers? Were they nightly discussions or weekly?
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my questions. I truly appreciate your kindness. By the way, my soon-to-be 11th grader is a huge fan of Ballet Magnificat and dances at a Christian studio as well. 😉
    Blessings In Christ,
    Beth

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