On our third and final day of practicum, we started with a great discussion on cultivating the conversation. In other words, how do we actually implement this whole rhetoric idea, and what can we do at home with kids of all ages. We defined rhetoric as ‘communicating truth persuasively,’ or, more poetically, ‘leading souls through words.’ And while it all sounds pretty, it seems like a lofty goal that only the really experienced classical educators can teach.
But it isn’t. It’s so simple. It just requires intention.
Here are a few simple ways to encourage rhetoric with your kids, no matter what age they are:
- Allow kids to explain stuff to you. Even the annoying stuff you kind of don’t care about. Give them your attention and ask questions.
- Ask kids the rules of a game and let them teach you. Ask questions to clarify and allow them to answer fully.
- When playing, ask about their favorite things. “Which doll is your favorite?” “Why?” “What makes that one special?”
- Start conversations about important topics by asking your kids what they believe about it. Ask how they feel. Ask what they know.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Encouraging all of these skills is important from the time they can babble, but it’s really important in the dialectic stage because, well…. THE QUESTIONS! How will we ever deal with all the questions? They constantly ask them, and now, we will too. Because it will help them learn to organize their thoughts and speak with passion and clarity. It will encourage them to make choices and to have clear reasoning for the choices they’ve made. And that’s the ultimate goal. To raise thinkers!
And thinkers are needed in every workplace. Rhetoric is needed in every workplace. Your children don’t need to grow up to be scholars and academics to use rhetoric. Employers need people who can be creative, take initiative, think outside the box, and take a raw thought and turn it into a fully developed concept. All of those skills are rhetorical.
Erin Barry, our speaker (and lucky for me, the Challenge B Tutor Trainer), did such a brilliant job of using stories and anecdotes from her life and homeschooling journey to encourage us. Every day she gave me such hope and ignited peace in my soul about the path we are on. But today. People. She brought me to tears.
There’s me, at the front of an auditorium of strangers with tears streaming down my face and NO TISSUE! Horrifying!
But I’m so thankful for her honesty, because even within the homeschool world, the pressure to be ahead, be smarter, be better, be more prepared and have kids who are angelic in behavior is so prevalent. And she just stripped that away today. She encouraged us to remember that our kids are already on their path. The doors are opening for them. The lamp is lighting their steps. We are being faithful and that’s all that is asked of us.
Her honesty showed us that while on her homeschool journey, her kids sometimes struggled to keep up to grade level. They weren’t always well behaved. They’ve questioned. SHE’S questioned. And by staying faithful, relying on God’s strength instead of her own, and taking a step each day, she knows she wouldn’t trade her journey for any other.
If you can give no more that this, at the very least, be a pillar of honesty and grace in your CC community. God knows we need more people like that.
What were your big takeaways from Practicum? Have questions about Classical Conversations or anything in my practicum articles? Leave them in the comments below!