This post is the second in a six-part series on “Teaching Methods.”
As I discussed in my post: “Getting Started in Home-Schooling: Part III” the classical method is based around a revival of Greek and Roman learning where the emphasis is on three elements: grammar, logic and rhetoric – called the “Trivium.” The classical method is language-focused and integrates subjects for enhanced learning.
The first stage of classical education, the grammar stage, involves the learning of facts. As we all know, young children are sponges. The classical method puts that attribute to good use by emphasizing the learning of facts related to phonics, mathematics, grammar, spelling, history, literature, etc. Classical educators also emphasize the learning of Latin at this stage, believing that young children are better able to learn a foreign language.
In what would be considered the “middle-school” years, children in a classical program begin to learn the tenets of logic. The contention is that at this age children want to know “why?” While I would point out that kids start asking “why” long before this age, they are certainly much more able to understand logical arguments at this point. The study of logic will apply to all disciplines: writing assignments, for example, will not just consist of reiterating what has been learned but would require giving a cogent argument for a position. In history, as another example, students may learn about the reasoning behind an event such as why the United States entered the first World War.
In the final stage of the Trivium – rhetoric – students are expected to be able to speak and write forcefully. The program of education at this level is very rigorous.
There are a few more points in regards to the Trivium which are important to note. One is that all learning in a classical program is thought to be interrelated, i.e., the various subjects are not taught in isolation. I believe, as many home educators do, that this interrelation of learning is a very productive, and effective, way to teach. Secondly, a classical education is very much a college-prep education (a good thing, in my opinion).
I should note that I do not use a classical approach. But I can certainly see the benefits of this approach. I would like to point you to some resources that can give you more detailed information about this approach to education. Here are some resources you might want to look into if this teaching method appeals to you:
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Editition) by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise
- www.triviumpursuit.com is the website of Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn. The Bluedorn’s approach is not only a classical one but also a decidedly Biblical approach to teaching the Trivium.
- The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
- You might also want to look online for articles by Dorothy Sayers who wrote what might be thought of as a treatise for classical education called The Lost Tools of Learning. You can find out more information about her at her Wikipedia page.
As I said, I have not used the classical approach in my own home-schooling experience. If you have, I would love it if you would share with my readers in the comments section!Print This Post