conclusion of this warning is that we can
In his treatise on logic, The Metalogicon,
medieval scholar John of Salisbury defined;dialectic;as;“the;science;of;effective
argumentation” that seeks to investigate
the “truth and meaning of what is said”
( 80–81). 2 In other words, the dialectic
helps;us;to;seek;out;the;truth, to meditate
on it, and to articulate it to others.
Small children generally tend to be
concrete thinkers who are absorbed by
investigating the world as it is. Some time
sound obnoxious, they actually are a sign
of the world. It is too easy for us to dismiss
their questions either because we are an-noyed;by;them;or;because;we;don’t;know
the answers. Instead, we should cherish
with them. We should watch the news
with them and discuss current events. We
should read a literary classic with them
and then;ask;a;few;questions—and encourage them to ask a lot of questions.
Suddenly, one day, it seems that our
children begin to debate everything from
parental;rules;to;the;correct;interpreta-tion;of;Bible;stories.;As;their;wise,;lov-ing, adult mentors, we want to work with
these tendencies by teaching them how
to ask good questions, how to think logi-cally,;and;how;to;speak;well.
In;her;speech,;“The;Lost;Tools;of;Learn-ing,” Dorothy Sayers calls this stage of
childhood the “Pert” stage. Children aged
to do it well. As Sayers says, the basic
ambiguity, irrelevance, and redundancy,
Lost;Tools;of;Learning”). 3 We teach them
ic at hand, to thoroughly consider both
sides of an argument, and to ask lots of
Sayers gives one example from history. The small child transitions from
names,;dates,;and;facts);to;a;dialectic;un-derstanding of history.
History, aided by a simple system
of ethics derived from the grammar
behavior;of this statesman;justified?
What;was;the;effect;of;such;an;en-actment? What are the arguments
for and against this or that form of
Notice that the dialectic does not re-quire;a;special;degree;in;logic,;a;com-puter program, or an expensive curriculum. What we really need are good
books and time with our children. We
need;our;teens;to;unplug;from;technol-ogy and go on a walk with us. We need
to make time to meet with them alone
to spend this time with them, to give
them freedom to wrestle with ideas, and
unable to answer their questions, we
this notion. We have nothing to fear,
vail. However, in order for Truth to work
in the hearts and minds of our students,
they must be allowed to ask questions
things that we do not agree with. In-
stead, we should read alongside them
and invite them to ask questions and to
wrestle with the truth. Only then will
they become strong, able to seek out the
Truth on their own.
begin to ask good questions. The good
gone before us. Classical, Christian educators can rely on good questions that
circumstance, and testimony.
If we believe that all
of our children must
choices and to govern
themselves and others
well, then we must train
them to think well.
. . . We can either believe
we can believe that the