Classical Benefits


The true mark of a quality education must not be simply a mind full of facts. It is accumulated knowledge with a hunger for more, the ability to express what has been learned, and most importantly, the acquisition of the proper tools with which to continue the learning process throughout an entire lifetime. If a student merely learns ‘Subjects’, but not how to think, he has learned everything except the “art of learning.”

Dorothy Sayers, a clear thinking classicist, was indeed insightful in 1947 when she proposed the solution to this educational void and suggested that we return to an older educational method, The Trivium of medieval education. The Trivium consists of three parts: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, which were preparation for the study of particular subjects.

The Trivium equips students with the tools of learning, and therefore prepares them for the discipline of continued studies.

Three Stages of the Trivium

Miss Sayers matched the three stages of the Trivium to the three basic stages of child development. Grammar, which involves the memorization of basic facts, goes nicely with what she called the “Poll-Parrot” stage. Younger children love to chant, recite, and memorize. Dialectic is the study of formal logic and argumentation, and fits well with the “Pert” stage. Because children are naturally argumentative at the junior high and early high school level, they may as well be taught to argue properly and logically. The third level is Rhetoric, which is the study of the art of public speaking and reasonable, persuasive expression. This compliments the student’s “Poetic” phase, in the high-school years, which is the age when a student is concerned with appearance and identity.

When grammar, dialectic and rhetoric are taught at these ages, the teacher is teaching “with the grain.” Two things are accomplished. The children enjoy what they do, and what they do equips them with the tools of learning. They are then ready for a lifetime of study and thinking. Fundamentally, they are not taught a different body of knowledge, but with a method of education that is different.

Christ Classical Academy utilizes the Trivium as our method of education. The curriculum focuses on the basics of mathematics, science, history and language studies, including a study of Latin and classic literature. An awareness of, and gratitude for the heritage of Western civilization will be developed. The Trivium approach to education has proven to be an effective method in providing students with not only the knowledge of facts, but the desire and tools for continued learning as they move out into the world, and for the rest of their lives.It is our goal that when students graduate, they not only know how to read and cipher, but are truly trained to think critically.

Adapted from Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning
by Douglas Wilson