The Trivium

Our instruction utilizes methods from the classical education model. The design of classical Christian education is to produce a student with the mental discipline and ability to read an in-depth book, write discerning, thoughtful essays on the book, present lectures or debates on the contents of the book, and evaluate its contents in light of the Christian worldview. Its goal is to teach the student to think clearly and express himself persuasively. To accomplish this, we focus on the three classical parts of education: the Grammar, the Logic, and the Rhetoric. These stages make up what is known as the Trivium. The word Trivium comes from the Latin prefix Tri meaning “three,” and the Latin root “via” meaning way. The word Trivium literally means three-way, referring to the three parts of a liberal arts education.

Grammar (Primary Grades/approx. K-6)

During this stage, children compile information in an organized framework (or “grammar”) for each subject area. Children love to chant, recite, and memorize. Emphasis on repetition and rote techniques corresponds to a child’s ability to easily memorize and learn by rote during this phase of development. During these elementary years, we are focused on the fundamental facts and rules of each subject, the building blocks, the “a,b,c’s” of each core subject including phonics, English grammar, spelling, reading of the classics, Bible study, math facts, and penmanship. This is the time to fill them full of facts, such as the multiplication table, geography, dates, events, plant and animal classifications- anything that lends itself to easy repetition and assimilation by the mind. The material is presented to the students in an assortment of techniques to reach all types of learning styles. Through the use of varied repetition, a strong foundation is laid as the building blocks for future learning.

Logic (Middle grades)

At the Logic stage, the child begins to understand that which he has learned and begins to use his reason to ask questions based on the information that he has gathered in the grammar stage. It is during this stage that the child no longer sees the facts the he learned as separate pieces of information, but he starts to put them together into logical relationships by asking questions. No longer can the American Revolution merely be a historical fact, but it must be understood ithe light of the rest of what the child has learned. For example, how can one reconcile the fact that some of the founding fathers can be held up as great men even though they were also slaveholders? Through a more in-depth and careful discussion and examination of evidence, the students learn how to question, how to dialogue, and how to discern. This leads to the development of stronger critical thinking skills. Formal logic is taught as a class. It is also integrated into each subject matter enabling students to learn the rules that guide sound thinking.

Rhetoric (Upper grades)

With the grammar and dialectic stages serving as building blocks, children in this stage progress toward articulating their views. Children are learning how to think out loud; they become concerned with expressing themselves and how their ideas are coming across to others. Our educational goal is to prepare our students to enter these upper grades ready to learn how to communicate clearly in written and verbal form, thoroughly research all subject areas, see interrelationships between subjects, and apply a biblical worldview to daily living and future learning!

See the Suggested Reading if you want to learn more about the classical model.