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Home › Academics › Classical Education Trivium


Classical Education Trivium

Classical education’s Trivium consists of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages in student academic development.

Logic and rhetoric are often taught in part by the Socratic method in which the teacher raises questions and the class discusses them. By controlling the pace, the teacher can keep the class very lively, yet disciplined.

Grammar (Grades 1-4)

The Grammar Stage focuses on language skills -- primarily reading and the mechanics of writing. An
important goal of grammar is to acquire as much vocabulary as possible across the curriculum. Very young
students learn this vocabulary by rote, especially through the use of chant and song. Their minds are often
referred to as "sponges" that easily absorb a myriad of facts. Classical education traditionally includes the
study of Latin and Greek; at ACE, all students grades one through high school study Latin. Latin studies
reinforce understanding the grammar of languages and permit students to reach the goal of reading Western
Civilization’s classics in the words of the authors. The Grammar stage refers generally to the elementary
school years.

Dialectic (Grades 5-8)

Dialectic (or logic) is discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation. The
traditional text for teaching logic was Aristotle's Logic. In the modern renaissance of classical education, this
dialectic stage refers to the middle school or junior high school student, who developmentally is beginning to
question ideas and authority, and truly enjoys a debate or an argument. Training in logic, both formal and
informal, enables students to critically examine arguments and to analyze their own. The goal is to find out
why something is true, or why something else is false, in short, reasons for a fact.

Rhetoric (Grades 9-12)

Rhetoric debate and composition (which is the written form of rhetoric) are taught to somewhat older (often
high school aged) students, who by this point in their education have the concepts and logic to criticize their
own work and persuade others. According to Aristotle "Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic." It is
concerned with finding "all the available means of persuasion." The students learn to persuade others with
these facts, and succeed in the persuasion. Students learn to reason correctly in the Dialectic stage so they
can then apply those skills to Rhetoric. Students read original source documents and learn to present their
arguments well.

Read more about "What is the Classical Method" »


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