Dialectics for Teachers Here are some ideas for teaching dialectics:
1. Quantitative change leads to qualitative change:
Pump up a balloon with a bicycle tire pump until it pops.
Cut a rubber band, then stretch it until it breaks.
Stack blocks until they fall--the tipping point.
Hold your arms out until you can't hold them any more.
Open your eyes without blinking, until you have to blink.
Hold your breath until you have to let it out and take a new breath.
2. Everything is made of opposites:
Can your students think of anything that isn't made of opposites? Remember that any object has to have a force holding its parts together; otherwise they fly apart (2nd law of thermodynamics). Also, any process only moves forward if a force causes it to move (Newton's laws of motion). Also, concepts are not things, so they aren't "made of opposites", but they do need opposites to be understood--e.g. good/bad, fast/slow, etc. If your students come up with a good question here, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read the suggestions that have been sent in to Dialectics for Kids as well as the responses by going to What Isn't Made of Opposites?
3. Change moves in spirals (negation of negation):
Take a wheel, and mark where it touches the ground. Make the wheel move forward one revolution. The mark is back to its original position, but the wheel has moved forward.
Stand with weight on your left foot. Take two steps--first right, then left. Now your weight is back on your left foot, but you have moved forward.
Ask students to try to spell a tricky word--say "collectible". Count how many got it right. Then put the word on the board so everyone can see how to spell it correctly. Then erase it and ask them to spell it again. Now see how many get it right. The same exercise can be repeated with any test or quiz, say 10 true/false questions.
Ask students what they were doing exactly one year ago, i.e. the time since the earth went one time around the sun. Is anything different? Are some things the same?
4. Knowing both sides of any thing or process:
Play a card game--say 21 or poker, consider how easy it would be if you knew what cards the other player is holding. Or, if you are playing liar's poker, consider how easy it would be if you knew the card on your forehead.
Consider any sport--your chances of winning depend not only on the strength of your team, but also the strength of the opposing team. No matter how good your school team is, they couldn't beat a team of top professionals. Try some competition such as tug-of-war or arm wrestling to show the concept of opposing forces.
Look at the news--read the election polls or results. Which candidates got the most votes? Discuss why one candidate was stronger than another.
Consider history--who won wars and why were they stronger? Why did the U.S. win in World War II and lose in Vietnam?
Good luck and have fun in teaching this important concept!