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grammar versus logic stage in gifted children?


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I've recently been reading "The Lost Tools of Learning" and I find the way that Sayers described out the grammar versus logic stage very interesting:


"My views about child psychology are, I admit, neither orthodox nor enlightened. Looking back upon myself (since I am the child I know best and the only child I can pretend to know from inside) I recognize three states of development. These, in a rough-and- ready fashion, I will call the Poll-Parrot, the Pert, and the Poetic--the latter coinciding, approximately, with the onset of puberty. The Poll-Parrot stage is the one in which learning by heart is easy and, on the whole, pleasurable; whereas reasoning is difficult and, on the whole, little relished. At this age, one readily memorizes the shapes and appearances of things; one likes to recite the number-plates of cars; one rejoices in the chanting of rhymes and the rumble and thunder of unintelligible polysyllables; one enjoys the mere accumulation of things. The Pert age, which follows upon this (and, naturally, overlaps it to some extent), is characterized by contradicting, answering back, liking to "catch people out" (especially one's elders); and by the propounding of conundrums. Its nuisance-value is extremely high. It usually sets in about the Fourth Form. The Poetic age is popularly known as the "difficult" age. It is self-centered; it yearns to express itself; it rather specializes in being misunderstood; it is restless and tries to achieve independence; and, with good luck and good guidance, it should show the beginnings of creativeness; a reaching out towards a synthesis of what it already knows, and a deliberate eagerness to know and do some one thing in preference to all others. Now it seems to me that the layout of the Trivium adapts itself with a singular appropriateness to these three ages: Grammar to the Poll-Parrot, Dialectic to the Pert, and Rhetoric to the Poetic age. "


My thoughts on classical educating up to this point have mostly come from reading I've done by in The WTM and from Leigh Bortin.  And I've never really thought much about grammar stage except to box it as "1st to 4th grade"... that being said, when I read the above description of the different stages I recognize my oldest, who is 7 1/2, much more in the description of "the Pert"/logic stage/dialectic stage.


So I'm wondering... do gifted children sometimes come into these stages early?  I'm not saying my child is EXTREMELY gifted, I don't know!  He is bright and a very quick learner though.  And I know that sometimes in gifted children what you see earlier is the ability and desire to analyze.  Or is the desire of kids to contradict/answer back/catch people out - just something that unfortunately is coming to all children younger due to societal influences?  :)


Anyone else thought about this/have any random opinions to share?  I've been thinking about it for a few days and wondered if others have pondered this same question!  Obviously you can't "skip" the grammar stage, but at the same time - do some children seem to be working in both stages at once?  Or is that antithesis to the model of classical development?  :)



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Speaking just from personal experience, and not as any kind of expert.  Yes, they can reach logic stage early and not necessarily all areas at once.  For my kids, math was an area where they grasped the abstract especially early.  (I think they were 4 and 6 when I introduced negative numbers on a whim trying to keep them quiet while we waited for our food to arrive.  They totally got it and loved playing around with the notion.)


On the other hand, the older of the two, now 10, has O.C.D. and prefers his reading material to be at grammar stage level, not for how well he reads (that's still levels ahead of his age), but because logic stage topics sometimes trigger his anxieties.


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Yes, the stages of learning do not arrive nicely in gift-wrapped packages, precisely on schedule.  In gifted kids, the schedule can be a real mess, particularly if you try to stick with "designed for homeschoolers" materials that follow a classical model-- what to do if your child is mentally rhetoric stage ready in some aspects of development, but not necessarily in his writing ability?  Or pose the same question, crossing the grammar/logic border?  Creating some custom materials becomes necessary. What if the child is ready in terms of depth, but maturity of the material is an issue?  Again, this problem can be solved, but will require some work (and you can thank your lucky stars that you ARE homeschooling and can custom-craft a program that will challenge this child).


One pitfall to avoid . . . sometimes our gifted kids try to race ahead before they have really gotten what they needed from the prior stage-- it can be a bit like working through the stages of grief at times, where you want the progression to be linear, but it is really a bit of bouncing back and forth across a rather sinuous, curvy line for a year or so.  Child-led education does not imply that we abdicate our role as the adults, and make sure they still get what they need, even if they don't agree all the time!  My kids are awesome (naturally :D ) but they usually overestimate their mastery of a skill or topic at this age-- they don't distinguish between the "a-ha!" moment and long-term storage.  They might remember 2-3 weeks later, but six months later? Probably not if I don't exert some control over what mastery means (and how much mastery is necessary for a given subject-- I don't really care if a 7YO doesn't have perfect recall of the pharoahs of Egypt).



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