In Latin, the word trivium means “the place where three roads meet.” Therefore, the classical education Trivium consists of learning and practicing three arts—or skills—referred to as grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
Lost Tools of Learning
The Lost Tools of Learning was 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 grade - 4th grade)
The Logic Stage (5th grade- 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.
*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.
Through every age, the Church has stressed the importance of parents being the primary educators of their children. Saint Mary Catholic School exists to support parents in this role. We know, through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, parents possess special graces to teach their children, especially when it comes to teaching the Catholic faith. Our teachers can only reinforce what already starts at home.
With this in mind, Saint Mary School seeks to support family life and help prepare students as future leaders and supporters of family life. Modeled after a successful program at Our Lady of Lourdes Classical School, the “Prime Time” series has been launched as an opportunity to come together as a community and grow together in our vocation as parents. As “Continuing Education for Primary Educators,” Prime Time also seeks to foster “a special solidarity among families” or what Pope St. John Paul the Great referred to as “an apostolate of families to one another".(Letter to Families, 1994).
The Catholic identity and school culture for which we are striving depends upon this type of community-wide effort.
May God give us this grace.
This Memoria Press article digs deeper into Classical Education, reviewing Sayers methodology and formation of whole persons, in an era of technology.
Click the image to read.
The Holy See's Teaching on Catholic Schools, 2006
“The Church’s clear teaching, constantly reiterated by the Holy See, affirms that parents are the first educators of their children. Parents have the original, primary, and inalienable right to educate their offspring in conformity with the family’s moral and religious convictions. They are educators because they are parents… Parents – and not schools either of the state or the Church – have the primary moral responsibility of educating the children to adulthood.
Like a good Mother, the Church offers help to families by establishing Catholic schools that ensure the integral formation of their children.”