The modern proponent of the Classical Approach was British writer and medieval scholar Dorothy Sayers. As the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, Sayers warned that schools were teaching children everything except how to think. Because young adults could no longer think for themselves, Sayers felt they could be easily influenced by tyrants. To remedy this, Sayers proposed reinstating the classical form of education used in the Middle Ages.
In the Classical Approach, children under age 18 are taught tools of learning collectively known as The Trivium. The Trivium has three parts, each part corresponding to a childhood developmental stage.
Three stages / The Trivium:
(3) Rhetoric Stage – 9-12
(1) Grammar Stage – K-6
- Early Elementary age
- Obtain a knowledge of the facts (Greek and Latin Grammar)
- Focuses on reading, writing and spellling
- The goal of this stage is to develop a general framework of knowledge and to acquire basic language arts and math skills.
(2) Dialectic / Logic Stage – 6-9
- Middle School age
- Develop skills necessary to arrange those facts into arguments
- Teaching logical discussion, debate, and how to draw correct conclusions and support them with facts.
- The goal of the Dialectic Stage is to equip the child with language and thinking skills capable of detecting fallacies in an argument.
- Latin study is continued, with the possible addition of Greek and Hebrew. The student reads essays, arguments and criticisms instead of literature as in the Grammar Stage. History study leans toward interpreting events. Higher math and theology begin.
- Develop the skill of communicating those arguments to others
- Use language, both written and spoken, eloquently and persuasively. Students are usually ready for this stage by age 15.