The Fundamental Facts of Classical Education

Teaching styles have changed over the years. With so many young children struggling to keep up with the new “common core” way of teaching, it may be time to look back at the traditional methods. Classical education revisits the trivium, or three ways, to teach children.

The trivium makes up the core of the curriculum. The core is made up of grammar, logic, and rhetoric phases. These stages are tailored to the way most children think at a given stage of intellectual development.

Grammar

While most people may think of grammar purely as a branch of English, it can be expanded to each subject. Each discipline has a vocabulary and rule set that dictates the study. During this stage, children learn the facts of each topic through songs, rhymes, or drills.

At the elementary or grammar school age, children thrive educationally through memorization and repetition. Children are taught the rules through these methods and they often master the necessary skills easily. While deskwork is important, self-discovery tools and imaginative play are equally important and should be mixed into the curriculum for the full spectrum to be absorbed.

Classical education at this stage occurs from Pre-K (for the schools who offer it) through fourth grade. The skills taught at this time are the “basic building blocks” for the remainder of the school curriculum.

Logic

By the time a student reaches the fifth grade, however, their minds start to change. Instead of being interested in learning things via memorization, the analytical side begins to come out. They start asking “why?” to find out the facts necessary to understand the subject. During these middle school years, children have a tendency to pay more attention to the cause and effect relationship that influence the answers.

Because the students are starting to think differently, the method of teaching them should also change. During these years is when subjects such as algebra and logic are taught. These disciplines take advantage of the abstract thinking and allow them to apply it to what they already know. When it comes to history, students ponder the cause of wars and changes rather than just learning the facts. It is at this point when the scientific method is introduced.

Rhetoric

As a child matures into a teen and enters high school, classical education changes once again. Building on the knowledge gained from the first two phases, the teen enters the stage where he is taught to speak and write with originality and force. They continue to use the memorization and logic skills taught in grammar and logic, but they are encouraged to express their only conclusions and explore areas of interest.

Children, who receive a classical education as opposed to a more contemporary one, will learn new ways to think and express themselves. It is a traditional learning system that dates back centuries and can give children a better understand of the subjects they study.