Skip to main content
Classical Christian Movement

Real-Time Dialectic

By December 1, 2008January 31st, 2023No Comments

During their seventh and eighth grade years, my students engage in a unique and highly popular course. Dialectic incorporates elements of both logic and rhetoric through the study of logical fallacies and practical debate. The disciplines of logic and rhetoric come together as students are challenged to carefully determine both what should be said and how to say it persuasively.

The Art of Argument by Aaron Larsen and Joelle Hodge serves as the textbook throughout the two year course. After being exposed to a fallacy through the text, students are encouraged to apply their newfound knowledge through some form of rhetorical exercise. For example, after learning about emotional appeals, students present a campaign speech or television commercial. Written exams are given over the substance of the text, while the presentations given during the application process are also graded.

Approximately two-thirds of a semester is centered on the text and related rhetorical exercises. The final one-third of the semester is set aside for debate. Students are introduced to a topic and exposed to potential points of view regarding it. After several class periods of group discussion, students are required to write an argument for either the affirmative or negative side of the issue. Although topics may encompass any number of subjects, the proposition debated must present two truly viable sides.

The debates take place during class time and study hall for a number of weeks, the critical goal being to ensure that every student competes in at least two preliminary rounds. After the “prelims,” the top eight teams advance to the “break” round. The top four teams from the quarter final pairings then advance to the semi final round. Finally, the top two teams meet one another in the final round. The final match is scheduled during a school assembly so that all the students in 6th-8th grades can enjoy the most sophisticated presentations of the tournament.

Parents, teachers, and administrators who have an interest and proficiency in the art of argument judge. Ballots are structured such that both content and presentation are considered, with a little more weight being given to substance.

Dialectic provides students with an opportunity to exercise their 12-14-year old natural desire to argue and challenge authority. The structure allows them to do this in a God-honoring environment where they are not allowed to make claims without appropriate decorum and evidentiary support. Better yet, they just might be leaning something.

As a member, you receive access to all of the most recent summer conference content, including 80+ workshops, plenary speakers, etc., plus access to the full library of past content.

Conference Sessions

Ensure increased visibility for your school by having it listed on the Find a School Map, connecting you with potential students and families seeking a classical Christian learning environment.

Map Feature

Unlock a wealth of exclusive resources, such as research studies and articles, providing valuable insights and knowledge for your school's continuous improvement.


Enable your school to easily post job openings and attract qualified candidates with the Career Center, simplifying the hiring process.

Career Center

Enjoy exclusive discounts on all SCL events and services, empowering you to access valuable resources and opportunities for your school's growth at a more affordable cost.

Exclusive Discounts

Get access to exclusive cohorts and workshops!

Cohorts and Workshops

SCL conducts school-wide surveys to provide relevant information to the classical Christian community as well as access to in-depth research with partner organizations like the Barna Group.


A connected community of classical Christian thought leaders, including heads of school, board members, marketing and admissions directors, development and fundraising directors, academic deans, grammar and upper school heads, and teachers from all grade levels are here to support and encourage one another.


Member-exclusive Coaching Call sessions. 15-20 online sessions each year from key-thought leaders on topics ranging from legal and operational issues to pedagogical and philosophical discussions. Think of it as a mini-conference each month!

Coaching Calls

Gain new insight, knowledge, and skills around best practices in a short, intensive format with workshops or a year-long mentorship experience with cohorts. Designed for administrators, teachers, parents, leaders, and department heads – anyone seeking to learn and grow in their role.

Conference & Workshops

Our network of seasoned professionals is available to navigate your questions and brainstorm solutions with you. Let us know how you want to direct your time and we will pair you with the senior leader that best suits your school’s unique needs.