Using Hegel’s dialectic in the English classroom

An excellent approach to essay structuring and developing original ideas, using Hegel’s dialectic. Via @C_Hendrick.


I have been thinking recently about how writing something effective is often about a structure and how I could get students to be more confident and assertive in their writing and decided to try something different.

A good essay for me is often one that provides multiple, often conflicting perspectives and then offers some kind of possible synthesis. Too often I read stuff that just sounds like something the students think I want to hear or a very linear essay which contains a ‘right’ answer. In order to combat this I tried formalising a possible essay structure by invoking Hegel’s dialectic model of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

So using Hamlet, I gave students various critical positions or ‘theses.’ I then asked them to discuss an opposite view or ‘antithesis’ and then finally a possible ‘synthesis’ of the two concepts. (If one is possible or relevant.)

I wrote out 5 possible critical positions relating to Hamlet…

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