The name given to the second stage of the Trivium is Dialectic, taken from the Greek word dialektike, the art of philosophical discussion or discourse. At Caldwell Academy, the Dialectic School is comprised of students in Sixth through Eighth Grades. The focus here is to build on the solid foundation established in the Grammar stage and teach students to employ reason and apply and analyze knowledge in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of themselves and the world. As the name implies, the Dialectic classroom is a hub of discussion, discourse, and debate. Students are mentored by teachers who are passionate about their subjects and who encourage their students to ask questions and participate in what is known as the Great Conversation. At this stage of a student’s development, the love of argument becomes obvious, and we direct the students’ natural tendencies by teaching the proper form of argument through studies in formal and informal logic. The Tools of Learning (Writing, Thinking, Listening, Speaking, and Reading) are practiced and sharpened across the curriculum as students engage in dialectic activities designed to develop a discerning mind and to cultivate an appreciation for truth, goodness, and beauty.
Sixth Grade students are transitioning from the Grammar to the Dialectic stage, and we view the Sixth Grade year as an opportunity to focus on the study skills that facilitate independent, lifelong learning: organization of thoughts and materials, note-taking, long-term planning, careful and thoughtful reading, and problem solving. Additionally, the foundation built in the Grammar School is solidified through intentional instruction in math, science, literature, Latin, history, Bible, grammar, and composition. Sixth Graders engage in a variety of living history events such as Immigration and World World II days, culminating their history and science studies for the year with an overnight field trip to Fort Caswell, North Carolina.
Beginning in Seventh Grade, students deepen their understanding of the world through a natural integration of subjects, skills, and ideas. The Humanities Program allows students to study the greatest people, events, thoughts, and writings of ancient civilizations from the creation of the world to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Our math and science program provides a solid foundation in the language and ideas of algebra as well as an introduction to the sciences of biology, physics, and chemistry. Students complete Latin I over the span of Seventh and Eighth Grades and are ready to enter Latin II as Ninth Graders. After an intensive two-year writing program, students possess the necessary skills to write articulately and persuasively defend a position through the written and spoken word. Eighth Graders travel to Washington, D.C., each fall on an overnight field trip that builds leadership, facilitates fellowship, and explores the ideals upon which our nation was established.
Throughout their three years in the Dialectic School, students may enjoy participation in a variety of activities: drama, sports, mentor groups, activity days, homeroom fellowship, competitions, and leadership opportunities. Our challenging academics, vibrant extracurricular activities, and caring student/teacher relationships foster an environment where adolescent students experience the freedom to exercise independence within the security of age-appropriate boundaries, thereby cultivating wisdom and virtue.