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Notes for Prospective Students

What is a Classical Education? The modern proponent of the classical approach was British writer and medieval scholar Dorothy Sayers.
In an essay entitled, “The Lost Tools of Learning,†Miss Sayers asked: “Is not the great defect of our education today ...
that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils subjects, we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.†To remedy this, Sayers proposed reinstating the classical form of education used in the Middle Ages.
In the classical approach, children under age 18 are taught tools of learning collectively called the Trivium.
The Trivium has three parts that correspond to a child’s developmental stage: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
The ‘lost tools of learning’ that make up the Trivium are language and thinking skills that can be used to approach any subject.
The goal of the Trivium is to produce students who are capable of teaching themselves.
Grammar Elementary / Grades 1-4 The first stage of the Trivium covers approximately ages 6-10, or that stage when children most readily receive and memorize information.
The grammar stage focuses on reading, writing and spelling; the study of Latin (and at St. Nicholas Orthodox School, conversational Russian); and developing observation, listening and memorization skills.
The goal of this stage is to master the elements of language and develop a general framework of knowledge.
Dialectic Middle / Grades 5-8 The dialectic stage begins at approximately ages 10-12 when children begin to demonstrate independent or abstract thought (usually becoming opinionated or argumentative). Instead of suppressing the child’s tendency to argue, the teacher molds and shapes it by teaching logical discussion, debate, and how to draw correct conclusions, then support them with facts.
The goal of this stage is to equip the child with language and thinking skills capable of detecting fallacies in an argument.
Latin study is continued, with the addition of Greek (and written Russian, which uses a similar Cyrillic alphabet).
The student reads essays, arguments and criticisms instead of literature as in the grammar stage.
History leans toward interpreting events.
Higher math, physics, and theology begin.
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