September 11, 2009, Newsletter Issue #296: The Trivium Approach

Tip of the Week

The trivium method focuses on a three-subject curriculum of grammar, logic and rhetoric. This method defines grammar, logic and rhetoric differently than do our modern definitions:

•Grammar: This means the fundamental rules of any science, art, or subject of study. In the trivium, it means obtaining basic information, facts, and knowledge (mechanics) when the student is in his or her elementary stage, up to approximately 12 years old.

•Logic: The literal meaning is the study of reasoning and reliable inferences. In modern English, we call this critical thinking, in which the student learns to look for truth in information, for instance, to discern untruth or manipulated fact, and to recognize how these manipulations take place.

•Rhetoric: One definition of the term is the study of the effective use of language. In the trivium context, this is the act of combining and integrating the mechanics and the thinking skills into one's self, and then being able to communicate the synthesized fact to others. Presumably, once the student has mastered this process, she or he may be able to extend the knowledge base of a topic beyond synthesis.

The trivium approach has had resurgence in the US in private schools. The Bluedorn family of Moline, IL is one of the only connections today for homeschoolers wanting to use the trivium method.

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