Classical Education in Trinity’s Classrooms

Classical education is a sound and proven philosophy of education that has been around for over 2,000 years and has produced some of the greatest minds in history.  It can be understood, in part, by its methodology, called the Trivium (Latin for ‘the three ways’).

Classical education’s basic philosophy is to teach children in the ways they naturally want to be taught—even if they don’t always know it! In other words, classical educators teach children what they want to know when they want to know it.

Click Here: An Introduction to Classical Education

Young children are adept at memorizing. They like repeated sounds–rhymes, songs, chants–and will often make up their own. At this stage teachers use chants, skits, stories, hand motions, arts, singing, and rhyme to fit the students’ natural learning patterns.

A LOWER GRAMMAR classroom is lively and filled with enthusiastic children who enjoy memorizing and quickly develop facts in their reading, writing, speaking, and thinking.

As students move through the Grammar Stage, there is a continued emphasis on memorizing facts and language, utilizing many different instructional techniques to make learning fun and engaging. In the 4th grade students begin to study Latin as a foundational language tool for learning grammar, English vocabulary, and how languages work. This Latin program is integrated with our Shurley English program and serves to reinforce grammar rules and vocabulary. Not to mention students find it great fun to know something many of their parents do not!

As they move to the end of the Grammar Stage, closer to the Logic Stage, in addition to the songs, chants, rhymes, and other grammar tools, students begin to explore greater critical thinking, research reports, class discussions, presentations, and informal debates.

Who among us doesn’t know a pre-teen or teenager that has an opinion about almost everything and who is sure (s)he’s always right!

The early teen years are a critical part of educational development as young people learn to think and express themselves in effective ways. Trinity teachers capitalize on these natural tendencies, using classical teaching methods in this Logic Stage to keep teenage-minds keenly engaged and excited about education.

At this level, students begin to learn how to think for themselves. They are taught formal logic and how to apply it in a variety of highly interactive ways. The classroom becomes a training ground for effectively expressing themselves and their ideas, both verbally and in writing. Many lessons take the form of debates as they learn to argue for and against various topics that cover popular culture as well as Biblical perspectives.

In the final Rhetoric Stage of their classical education, students prepare to take their places in colleges, universities, jobs, or other life opportunities. At this point, they enter into a mentor-like relationship with their teachers who guide them in fine-tuning their thinking and communication skills. Drawing on their prior classical training, speaking and writing take precedence in this stage.

Their teacher-mentors charge them to refine their Biblical worldview: are they prepared to not only confront the culture in which they live, but to thrive as strong, Christian young adults? How will they express themselves verbally and in written form?

Highlights of the Rhetoric Stage are:

  • small classes that lend themselves to discussion, presentations, formal speeches, and persuasive methods of speech
  • studying the great books of Western Civilization such as Plato’s Republic, The Federalist Papers, Confessions of St. Augustine, to understand modern American culture and its prevailing ideas
  • emphasis on expression, enabling them to effectively defend their own worldview, as well as address secular ideologies in the culture and in higher educational systems
  • culmination of their studies in a “Senior Thesis” that presents a perspective which they have defined, researched, written, and presented to Trinity faculty, staff, and student body

“It is important that we think of the different stages of learning not as progressive levels where we leave the grammar stage and learning tools behind, but rather as concentric circles, where we take the tools of one stage into the next stage with us as we move into the next circle.” – Headmaster, Kyle Maestri