Overview of the Trivium

Classical education is a conscious return to the ancient goal of education: teaching students to think and learn for themselves by imparting to them the tools of learning. It is an approach to education that is rooted in the medieval concept of the Trivium, part of the seven classical liberal arts. The Trivium is comprised of three basic tools of learning: Grammar (the tool of knowledge), Logic (the tool of reasoning), and Rhetoric (the tool of communication and expression). Each of these tools functions in three ways: as an approach to subjects, as an approach to students, and as a subject in itself. See the chart below for a brief explanation of the Trivium according to each of these views.

Trivium Category Approach to Subjects Approach to Students Set of Subjects
GRAMMAR – Mastery of fundamental facts and rules – Elementary Age
– Concrete thinking seen
– Memorization comes naturally
– Formal study of word usage and language structure
– Studied in English and Latin
LOGIC – Training in comprehension and sound reasoning skills – Middle School Age
– Beginning to think abstractly
– Growth of analytic thinking abilities
– The study of the science of sound reasoning and argumentation
RHETORIC – Development of communication, expression, and application skills – High School Age
– Abstract thinking seen
– Interest in self-expression
– Communication and creativity
– The study of the effective use of language in speech and writing