The goal of education in ancient and medieval times was to teach children how to think and learn for themselves. They were given the tools of learning and then taught how to apply those tools of learning to any subject they encountered. In contrast, modern education generally tends to teach “subjects” or “skills.”
The Ancient and Medieval school curriculum taught three basic tools of learning:
- Grammar: The fundamental rules and core knowledge of each subject.
- Logic: The ordered and logical relationship of particulars in each subject.
- Rhetoric: How the grammar and logic of each subject may be clearly communicated.
These three basic tools of learning (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric) were called the Trivium. The Trivium is the heart of classical education. These tools of learning, not mere “subjects”, were forged and mastered. Subjects were the material upon which one practiced and developed these tools of learning.
The Trivium is nothing more than a proven and very practical approach to education that works. It is an instructional model that (1) is a common sense way of looking at subjects, (2) approaches the study of subjects in a way that naturally fits with how we learn, and (3) tailors curriculum content to a child’s cognitive development.