Classical Education trains the mind to learn, to think and to persuade —skills that are urgently needed to navigate our complex modern world.
Contrary to other methods that reach too early for technology or the latest fads, the Classical model uses proven methods perfected over centuries to form students to be critical thinkers, ethical problem solvers, and socially responsible citizens, giving its students the foundations they need to be successful in any area. (Frassati Academy 2017)
Classical education seeks to return to the original purpose of education. Rather than the modern pragmatic approach of training students for college and/or a career, the classical approach sees the purpose of education as forming human beings for excellent, virtuous living.
The Lost Tools of Learningwas written in 1947 by Dorothy Sayers and is often credited with the modern resurgence of classical education. In this essay, Sayers presents the Trivium's Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric as natural stages of learning rather than subjects in and of themselves.
The Trivium defines the stages of a student’s growth and the methods they are taught to deal with individual subjects. The Trivium teaches the tools of learning and progresses through three stages: The Grammar Stage (1st- 4th grade) The Logic Stage (5th- 8th grade); and The Rhetoric Stage* (9th-12th grade)
The first years of a child’s education are called the Grammar Stage because the student spends them learning the principles and basic knowledge (the grammar) of each academic subject. At this stage, the child’s world is full of wonder. Children possess a keen ability to observe and their brains memorize new things with voracity. Math, Science, History, Reading, Spelling, English grammar and Writing are all approached in a way that complements the child’s natural ability to observe and remember. The elementary years are the time to learn the building blocks of every discipline – math facts, parts of speech, scientific terms, geography, historical dates, etc. Education at this stage is about supplying both the tools of learning and the mental pegs on which later information can be hung.
In 5th grade, students begin to move into the Logic Stage. The Logic Stage is characterized by the student’s disposition to question and argue. The facts learned in the grammar stage are started to be connected and arranged logically. Students continue to build upon their storehouse of knowledge as they question and discover relationships among things.
Note: Preschool and Kindergarten are foundational years. The curriculum for Kindergarten is focused heavily on developing beginning skills in Phonics, Reading, Handwriting and Math with introductions into the subjects of Science and Writing.
*The Rhetoric Stage is where students learn to express themselves with fluency, grace and persuasiveness. Note: Students will emerge from the Saint Mary Grammar and beginning Logic curriculum equipped with the core knowledge and tools of learning that will prepare them to excel in non-classical middle and high school programs.