Video: Reverse-engineering dialectic

My kids were having difficulty with writing the third paragraphs of their dialectics this week, so I made this video about how to reverse-engineer a dialectic.  It’s certainly not my best effort, but it does show how you can ‘write backwards’ — start from the premise you want to arrive at, and show what and how certain preconditions will lead to that particular result.

Part of me is uncomfortable about teaching kids to reverse-engineer arguments. After all, we watch politicians do it all the time on TV, and pundits, and often for the worst of reasons — to gull the careless reader or viewer into taking a stand contrary to their own self-interest.  Yet maybe, by teaching them that it’s possible to ‘write backwards’, we can in fact encourage them to be more careful readers, as well.

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