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Thread: Merging Dialectic and Rhetoric Literature

  1. #1

    Merging Dialectic and Rhetoric Literature

    Has anyone attempted to use the literary analysis topics from the Rhetoric level with the books from the Dialectic level? I'm trying to keep my 7th grade son and 9th grade daughter together in our TOG studies. He is a strong reader and ready to begin to learn to analyze literature, but he isn't ready for the content of some of the Rhetoric readings. My daughter isn't quite ready for all the heavy reading in the Rhetoric level either, but the dialectic is too easy. The dialectic student activity pages don't seem to be rigorous enough and there isn't a discussion guide for those books. So, I was thinking that I could use the Poetics readings and topics with the books from the dialectic list. We really enjoy the integrated approach so I would like to continue aligning the literature readings with our history. Would that work?


  2. #2
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Kingsport, TN
    Hi Susie,
    There are short discussions every week in dialectic level, but they are in the Teacher's Notes. If you want more, and especially if you are assigning both of your kids the same books, you might just do as you suggested: use the topics from the books alongside the Poetics readings. So, if the dialectic assignment is focusing on plot, you could grab Poetics and have them read more there. You can also have them both begin to build the definition card bank using the terms that they encounter. When possible, you could also have them read the sections in Poetics about the authors and their worldviews.

    I think it is a plan that might work! It's more legwork for you, but if you want them doing the same books, I think it is do-able!

    Dana C. in TN
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,
    like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
    I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"
    Deut. 32:2-4

  3. #3
    Thank you for your response. I think I will give it a try and see how it goes. It seems like it will be a good transition to the Rhetoric level for next year.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    If you don't want to come up with longer discussions for the D level books, I'd suggest cobbling together a series of readings that uses both sets of books. So you might read Tom Sawyer in D and Huck Finn in R but skip Crime and Punishment. Do the lighter discussion with D books and use the cutting list to cut out R books to make the overall list lighter.

    I can't say exactly how I would do this other than to look at the R level cutting charts which will show you which works to cut at the R level and the D level books.

    I think the other thing I would do if it didn't stress him out is to assign my D level student exactly what the R level student gets but tell him to do his best, spend X long on this and then stop, I don't expect you to do all of it. I suspect he might rise up to R level over the course of the year.
    "Of two evils, choose neither."
    Charles H. Spurgeon

  5. #5
    Hi Susie! I think the success of what you suggest (using Poetics with Dialectic books) would depend on how much time you have and how comfortable you are with literary analysis. I see two major obstacles in what you are proposing:

    First of all, you could not simply "transport down" the readings from Poetics in any given week to apply to the Dialectic books for the same week, because in some weeks the Poetics readings are about poetry (or drama) while at the Dialectic level the book assigned is not poetry or drama. So, you'd need to make sure you were choosing readings from Poetics that fit the book assigned at the Dialectic level. This can be done, but it requires time and also a working knowledge of the literary analysis terms on your part such that you know what to match with what.

    The second time-consuming obstacle that I think you'd run into is the problem of finding answers in the book for application of the Poetics readings that you assign your student. It takes me about two full work days to read a Dialectic level book and pick out all the answers to questions like "What is the character's nature/beliefs/experiment in living?" or "What is the plot?" or "How would you describe the settings?" or "Does this story use imagery?" or "What are the character foils?" Now, on the one hand, once I have done this I have it for the entire book, which the student might be using for one to three weeks. Also, there's no law that says you must completely discuss EVERY literary analysis category or apply them all to any given book!

    On the other hand, I do think it takes a good bit of time (and mastery of literary analysis tools) to be sure that you have solid answers to the questions you might ask your student as they try to apply Poetics to the Dialectic reading. I also think that you would need such answers, because if the student cannot check his work, what would be the point of having him reading Poetics and try to apply it to his Dialectic books? He wouldn't be able to find out whether he was doing it correctly or not.

    What I might suggest, just on the basis of the information you've given, is that you have your Dialectic student do the work as written and then focus on his writing (which can be counted as part of his overall English credit). This would allow you to continue to challenge him in language arts and let him grow a bit more until he can tackle Rhetoric. For your daughter, I would suggest looking at Appendix D in Teaching Rhetoric Level Literature (on the Loom) and see which books you might cut out to lighten her load.

    Another possibility would be to talk to some of the Lampstand Learning Center teachers and ask them for information or help. I believe that for several years now they have been offering a "Literature Lite" course which is designed to help bridge the gap between Dialectic and Rhetoric. I know that they have found ways to "beef up" some Dialectic discussions and trim down some of the Rhetoric course load. They may have tips that they could share with you! However, again, I think that they would tell you (as I have found also, during the year when I taught Dialectic literature at the LLC) that it takes a fair bit of extra time. This is not to say you shouldn't do it!---just wanting you to be informed. :-)
    Last edited by cjsomerville; 09-09-2014 at 03:16 PM.

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