To know God and to make Him known.

A Meal on a Plate: Demonstrating the Classical Model (Part Two)

This article is a continuation of yesterday’s Postcards article, “A Meal on a Plate: Demonstrating the Classical Model (Part One).”

The characteristic mark of the dialectic learn­ing stage is the ability to think critically and to make logical connections. Using our food analogy, students try foods in new ways and develop definite opinions about what they do and do not like. These self-proclaimed culinary connoisseurs are exploring new flavor combina­tions and deciding their personal preferences. Wanting to “mix it up,” students are not quite so overwhelmed by the prospect of combining foods that complement one another.

Academically, students are no longer intimi­dated by abstract academic concepts. Because they are now able to see more connections and draw logical inferences between ideas and in­formation, a wider world of understanding is being unlocked and unpacked. A new layer of learning ability emerges, and students embrace deeper discussions and defining debates.

This often happens on a very personal level. Students have begun to identify themselves within certain ethnic, social, or religious con­texts. As they grow, conversations with friends in a club or sports team broaden their perspec­tive from this self-awareness to the realiza­tion that there are other races, cultures, family structures, and faiths. What are the differences? Why am I different from my friend? Is there a value judgment to be made (or avoided) in the difference? Often there are no easy answers to these questions, but the understanding of how to search out the answers has the potential to shape lifelong thinking and the character of the adult-to-be.

As a lifelong learner, I have worked this year with my Challenge B student to use logic and dialectic thinking in our everyday discussions and debates. While it is tempting to continue to “do the thinking for him,” I have realized it is much more important to guide him through the process of learning to think for himself. From logically discussing the consequences of man­aging his time and priorities wisely (or unwise­ly) to handling difficult situations with those in authority, he is learning to think and act within the context of biblical values.

Remember Deuteronomy 6:6-8? It starts by saying “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” (emphasis mine) This passage is talking to the parent first. So how are you doing—are God’s words and ways on your own heart? I have spent time this year learning more of God’s consistent yet com­plex character in Isaiah and digesting the meaty principles and sober instructions in Jude. My growth and learning enables me to dialog with my children and apply biblical principles and truths. How about you?

The Rhetoric Stage: Professional Prep and Presentation  

As high schoolers, our students become inde­pendent in the kitchen. They can put a meal on a plate for themselves. We welcome and even expect their help with meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning because they know and understand how to do it well. In ad­dition, we trust them to make good food choices personally (most of the time) because they real­ize, want, and are eager to choose the benefits of good health.

Academically, rhetorical students possess the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of subjects at hand. For whatever subject they are assigned to “cook,” they are equipped to plan, professionally prepare, and persuasively present the meal on the plate. They value their education and the classical tools of learning as they get ready to leave home. As parents, we are thankful because they have the skills they need to survive, thrive, and serve in the world around them.

I eagerly anticipate my children growing into this rhetorical stage of application. I look for­ward to sharing meals of dialog and debate as we sharpen each other in our personal walks with the Lord and as He unveils His purposes and plans for each of our children. How about you?

Whether your child is in the grammar stage of picky eating, the dialectic stage of mixing fla­vors or the final rhetorical stage of becoming an accomplished chef, take time to learn alongside them and enjoy the process. And, periodically, remember to reflect on how the classical model compared to a meal on a plate gives us yet one more concrete example of a true education.


TIERS: challenge
CATEGORIES: Dialectic Stage (ages 12 to 14), Grammar Stage (ages 4 to 11), Homeschooling Life, Rhetoric Stage (ages 14 to 18)

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