The “Why” Stage

Three lovely dialectic friends


… This is a question we often think of toddlers asking. However, believe it or not, it is more typically asked by students in 6th-9th grades. Yes, junior high, or the dialectic stage, is a season full of questions. Even compliant upper-grammar children often turn into questioning, reactive, argumentative dialectics. And guess what?…

That’s normal!

This is because young teens are in the “logic” stage of development. It’s a season characterized by questioning E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!

When I say dialectics are argumentative, I don’t mean they are necessarily disrespectful. They’ve simply learned to use reasoning skills and ask questions. They want to know why.

My dialectic daughter still loves those "hands-on" activities. Here, she is an Egyptian.

Dialectics are a mixed group. I have two dialectic-aged students who are twins! My son loves philosophy and geography while my daughter’s favorite subject is writing. My daughter organizes her schoolwork. Her notebook is impeccable. She writes her own lists and pays close attention to detail. My son… not so much, but he is a math whiz. However, as different as they are, they both ask “why” on a daily basis.

Even today, I heard this question coming from my son – “Mom, why do atheists say they aren’t religious? Isn’t atheism a kind of a religion in itself?” When studying the Greeks, this same child observed, “We tend to think of the Greeks as unintelligent, or at least I do because they really believed in all these crazy gods and goddesses. However, they weren’t dumb… They actually had to have been quite smart to have made up reasons for all they questioned.” Such comments are examples of “connections” being made through their studies. Dialectics have moved beyond reporting “facts” to reasoning and questioning material they’ve studied.

For moms, this new season of questioning can be exhausting. We miss the “just-give-the-facts” grammar stage! However,  it is our job to answer the dialectic “whys.” It’s time to teach more than just the facts.

Our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace (ToG), understands dialectic-aged students. Tapestry’s well-written thinking questions in the curriculum encourage dialectics to make connections and reason. Taking students back in history, the literature brings history to life, also promoting reasoning, analytical thought of the time period being studied.

In addition to the outstanding thinking questions and excellent literature selections, I appreciate the versatility of the ToG plans. Mom can truly customize ToG to the ability level of each child. At the beginning of this year, my 9th grader transitioned to rhetoric-level work by participating in rhetoric literature and dialectic history. My 7th grade son enjoys philosophy. Because

My son is a "just-the-facts" dialectic.

I wanted him to participate in Tapestry’s Padgeant of Philosophy readings and discussions from year 1, I let him join the rhetorics for this one class. At times, I’ve moved my upper grammars up to dialectic literature and kept them reading easier history texts until they matured. ToG reading selections are truly customizable, and for the dialectic-aged student, I find this extremely beneficial.

Not only is the reading customizable, but the writing assignments are too. I’ve found writing abilities to vary quite a bit with dialectic students. Some are ready to write research papers. Others need to keep working on tight paragraph construction. Again, I appreciate the versatility of the ToG curriculum. There are twelve levels of writing and mom, the teacher, can pick a level and move up or down as needed to meet individual needs.

Dialectics are definitely a fun group to teach. They’re silly and they’re serious. They are children one moment and adults the next. They giggle and they philosophize. They come  extra-small and extra-tall. They like “hands-on” and they prefer “just the facts.” Yet they all ask “why?” a hundred times a day.

Thankfully, Tapestry of Grace helps me answer some of the whys… at least the ones related to their history and literature studies!

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