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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
In an essay entitled, â€œThe Lost Tools of
Learning,â€ Miss Sayers asked: â€œIs
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.â€ To remedy this, Sayers
proposed reinstating the classical form of education used in the
In the classical approach, children under age 18 are
taught tools of learning collectively called the Trivium.
Trivium has three parts that correspond to a
childâ€™s developmental stage: grammar,
dialectic, and rhetoric.
The â€˜lost tools of
learningâ€™ that make up the Trivium are language
and thinking skills that can be used to approach any subject.
goal of the Trivium is to produce students who are capable of
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.
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
The goal of this stage is to master the elements of
language and develop a general framework of knowledge.
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 childâ€™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
The student reads essays, arguments and
criticisms instead of literature as in the grammar stage.
leans toward interpreting events.
Higher math, physics, and