WHAT is THE TRIVIUM?
A Latin word which refers to the convergence of three roads at one point. Historically, the trivium has consisted of grammar, logic and rhetoric.
These can be thought of as separate subjects. All three are taught at The Oaks. However, we view them as three ways or tools that students can use to learn any subject.
Grammar guides us concerning the facts and rules of a subject; logic helps us make sense of a subject's core principles and weigh their truth or falsity; rhetoric teaches us how to frame and express our arguments in the most winning way possible.
LOST TOOLS OF LEARNING
The Trivium taught the primary tools of learning. The quadrivium applied the trivium to the complete range of advanced subjects.
For twenty centuries, these methods, integrated with a biblical world view of salvation in Jesus Christ, have educated and guided Christians from all traditions.
Dorothy Sayers, the noted 20th century Christian intellectual and British novelist, wrote a booklet titled The Lost Tools of Learning. This sparked a renaissance of classical education. She broke fresh ground by mapping the trivium to the three stages of a child's mental and emotional growth.
Following her lead, we "teach to the grain." We use age-appropriate materials to engage students at the intersection of their present spiritual, intellectual and emotional maturity.
Twenty-five years of first-hand experience at The Oaks confirms that classical education is as up-to-date as ever.
"The combined folly of a civilisation that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain."
THE GRAMMAR STAGE
Memory, rhyme and recitation do not tire, but invigorate, younger children. The grammar stage helps them build a vast array of knowledge upon which all their later learning will feed.
THE LOGIC STAGE
Logic stage students insist on debating (competitively and for fun) whether something is or is-not logical. We help them master the distinguo of classical logic across this God-ordained developmental phase.
We teach them to recognize and separate true argumentation from false. We require them to offer factual evidence and sound reasons for their bold claims about reality.
THE RHETORIC STAGE
Who today does not regret the frequent descent of political and cultural rhetoric into mere propaganda? For two millennia, rhetorical training was a prerequisite for graduation from the trivium. So it is again at The Oaks.
We train students to place the rhetorical stage arts of invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery into the service of biblical truth across a wide range of secondary studies.
When it came to books, C.S. Lewis warned against chronological snobbery, a kind of elitism we see in the world of technology where anything older than six months is outdated. Chronological snobbery runs both directions, forward and backward. Obviously, not everything new is good, but not everything old is good either. So we give our students the foundational books to read, the books that shaped western thought and continue to hold relevance today.
We sing a lot. It's a communal practice that requires harmonious voices and harmonious lives. We believe that singing shapes the human heart, so The Oaks sings the hymns and Psalms that have endured, we sing foundational songs.
Ideas move individuals and people groups like river water. Ideas might start small, but they build momentum and shape the cultural landscape. We expose our students to the great ideas of Western culture, teaching them where the idea came from and where it is going. We let them swim around in the idea, too, learning what it has right and where it goes wrong. How do we know what is right and what is wrong? We study it in the light of God's Word.