Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Classical Education Overview


Classical Education encompasses both the Trivium and the Quadrivium.  For purposes of this post I will focus on the Trivium.  The Trivium is recently most widely understood as explained by Dorothy Sayers in The Lost Tools of Learning (http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html).  Dorothy Sayers was herself classically trained, was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford, a member of the Inklings, and a consummate novelist.  In her article she outlines the Trivium, which consists of three parts: The Grammar Stage, The Dialectic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage.
Grammar Stage (K -6th grade) – the focus is on memory work.  The grammar stage is not “subject” heavy. In other words, mastery (“all learning is memory” -Socrates) of information through memory work.  The focus is that the student becomes knowledgeable.
Dialectic Stage-(Jr. High) -the focus is on learning the rules of logic and fallacies.  Math and writing skills teach logic, as well as the actual study of logic, (both formal and informal, linguistic, and symbolic).  The focus is that the student becomes a thinker.
Rhetoric Stage- (High school and beyond) –the focus is on excellent written and spoken communication.  The student is now ready to take the plethora of information that they memorized in the grammar stage, organize it with the logic skills they mastered in the dialectic stage and present through the written or spoken word.  The focus is that the student becomes articulate.
Latin is of particular interest to the classical student, for the especial reason that Latin teaches its students grammar, in addition to vocabulary and history.
History, as well, matters to the classical student, and is often studied within 3 or 4 year history cycle (Ancient History, Medieval/ Renaissance, Age of Explorers to the Present).  The Christian faith, especially as it is revealed throughout history, is the cornerstone of classical studies.  As Sayers states, “theology is the mistress-science without which the whole educational structure will necessarily lack its final synthesis.”
The Trivium is not “subject” heavy—in other words, multum non multa (less is more).  Mastery, especially of the skills needed to study and the ability to learn, is the focus, rather than overview of broad subject areas.  While teaching from a classical perspective might seem initially overwhelming, especially to those of us who were schooled in a traditional, government school;  the joys and success of classical education are worth whatever discomfort we might feel.
What are the benefits of classical education?  You will grow scholastically as you teach subject material in a new way.  Your student’s ability to synthesize information, especially as they advance through the stages of the Trivium, will truly astound you.  And ultimately, one’s faith will grow as one learns how to read, reason, and respond to the world and it’s creator in a manner beyond the elementary.
Interested in knowing more? I would highly suggest reading “The Well Trained Mind” by Bauer and Wise, the “Latin Centered Curriculum” by Campbell, “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” by Wilson, and going to a Classical Conversations parent practicum.  In addition, there are many excellent curriculums now available for the classical student.  Among these curriculums, you can find, “Memoria Press,”  “Peace Hill Press,”  “Classical Conversations,” and the “Institute for Excellence in Writing.”
 
This was originally published at The Homeschool Toolbox.

13 comments:

Des said...

Lisa, thank you so much for this post! It comes at a time when I was yet again rethinking what I was going to use for next year. After reading this, i'm settled again. Thank you!!

LaughingLioness said...

Des, So very glad this was helpful! I'd love to hear about what you'll be using!

jmommymom said...

I'm a homeschooling mom interested in all homeschooling methods and using what works for us from each one. I really enjoyed this explanation of Classical homeschooling, especially the different stages. Memory work at the young age makes so much sense because it seems to come easy.

lighthouseharbor said...

Very interesting and informative. I think Classic Education is the one method of homeschooling I know the least about.

Sheryl said...

Perfectly succinct. Well done!

growingforchrist said...

I loved the way you summed it up. I've tried reading several popular books on Classical education but it seems so heavy. I consider myself Classical/Eclectic as I don't rely heavily on rote memorization.

Bethany said...

We just started Latin this year. There is so much that is rich. We have more of a C. Mason bent, but we like Classical too.

Holly Oshesky said...

I love classical education. This looks like a nice program. Often I find that classical education is quite daunting, but when you get right down to it is just a way to learn.

Marcy Crabtree said...

Classical is not our preferred method, but this is a great explanation of what it means!

Michele said...

We did classical schooling for several years and enjoyed it. You did a great job of explaining it! I second reading The Well Trained Mind for anyone that wants to pursue classical schooling.

annette @ A Net In Time said...

a good overview. Thanks.

Amy Maze said...

Great summary! Thanks for sharing it. I always love hearing how other people explain classical education.

LaughingLioness said...

Thanks for all of the comments! Classical is, "just a way to learn"- I always say we are "neo-classical" 'cause Latin is such an achilles heel if you don't know it enough to teach it yourself!