Classical

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From the brochure …

Based on an ancient pattern called the Trivium, a Greek philosophy of education, and made up of three stages of learning development. It stresses learning to think logically and express views convincingly.

Stage 1: Grammar. Early elementary ages, develops a general framework of knowledge, with basic language arts / maths skills.

Stage 2: Logic: Around middle school age, equips with language & thinking skills, student learns to detect fallacies in an argument. High math & theology begin.

Stage 3: Rhetoric: About 15y.o. up, develops use of written & spoken language with eloquence & persuasion.

A Classical Education allows parents to offer a structured, child-specific approach.


To Elaborate …

The goal of a Classical education is to produce students who are capable of teaching themselves, and this approach has produced some great minds throughout history. It concentrates on teaching critical thinking skills, classic languages such as Latin or Greek, and providing a definite base of knowledge and skills.

The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the Trivium as “grammar, rhetoric, and logic,” the first three of the seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages,  considered less important than arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. From the Latin trivium, being “a place where three roads meet.”

In a Classical Education, the teaching of these three arts is distributed over three developmental stages of childhood.
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Stage 1 – Grammar

Covers up to an approximate age of 8 years old, although some texts indicate possibly as high as 11 years old. Most indicate an ‘elementary age bracket’.

Involves exposing the child to a range of information which they can memorise for use in later stages.

Focuses on developing a solid foundation of reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic, and includes the study of a language such as Latin, and learning the fundamental facts about each subject.

Emphasises the development of memorisation, observation and listening skills.|
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Stage 2 – Dialectic / Logic

Covers from an approximate age of 9 years old through to 13 years old – again some texts indicate a variation in the age range, with most indicating a ‘middle school’ age bracket.

Involves capitalising on the child’s demonstrated independent and abstract thought, usually by becoming argumentative and opinionated. Latin studies are continued, with Greek and Hebrew possibly being added, the student reads essays, arguments and criticisms instead of literature, history is interpreted, and high maths and (possibly) theology are undertaken.

Focuses on shaping the tendency to argue into an ability to engage in logical discussion, debate, and the ability to draw correct conclusions and support them with facts.

Emphasises the equipping of the child with language and thinking skills, relationships between fields of knowledge, and the logical framework of facts.
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Stage 3 – Rhetoric

Covers from an approximate age of 15 years old through to 18 years old, by which stage the student is considered ready for higher education.

Involves building on the first two stages of Grammar and Logic. the reading of great classic literature is added to ongoing studies.

Focuses on producing a student who can use language eloquently and persuasively.

Emphasises the independence of the student, who applies the rules of the Logic Stage to the foundational information of the Grammar Stage and expresses conclusions (spoken and written) clearly and with originality.
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Some advantages

  • tailored to childhood stages of mental development
  • teaches thinking skills and verbal and written expression
  • develops self-learners
  • students are exposed to the great minds of the past
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Some disadvantages

  • unsuitable for students who are not wholly academic
  • may be too rigorous
  • emphasis on ancient disciplines and classics may sit awkwardly with studies of modern society
  • may require significant input from parents
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Personal Comments

Our experience has not led us in this direction at all. While I can acknowledge observing the noted stages of development, as an educational style this would not generally have suited our family.
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Useful Links

  • The Well-Trained Mind
    This site serves to complement the information provided in the book of the same name, by Susan Wise Bauer. There are frequently updated resources, articles, links and other information.
  • Trivium Pursuit
    Provides a range of resources to apply to Christian Classical Education in Home Education. Includes a link to the Bluedorn’s article, ‘Ten Things to do with Your Child Before Age Ten‘. A lot of reading on the page, but if the Trivium interests you, it’s well worth the read.
  • Thinking to Learn
    These resources promote critical thinking, using books and software to take children beyond rote, drill and memorisation, to analysis and problem-solving skills.
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An internet search will yield additional resources, which you will be able to assess according to your own criteria.
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“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.”

~ William Arthur Ward

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