Thursday, August 29, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 2

Last week I wrote about the CC conference that I recently attended in Casper.  I learned so much there that I'm breaking down the info into 6 parts to share with you here on my blog. 

One of the things we talked extensively about at the conference was the trivium.  I've read The Well-Trained Mind and studied a little bit in the past about classical education, so I knew what the trivium was.  For those of you who don't know what it is, the word trivium is Latin for "the three paths."  In medieval times, students were trained via the trivium in preparation for the quadrivium.  The quadrivium means "the four paths."  Together the trivium and the quadrivium comprise the 7 liberal arts.



Classical Conversations follows the model of the Trivium by training younger children grammar (words and facts), the older children logic (reasoning and understanding how facts work together), and the high schoolers rhetoric (understanding and the ability to express/teach/debate).

Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations, puts the Trivium into today's computer lingo in this way:


Our conference speaker, Andy, declared that EVERYTHING we've ever learned has been learned in this manner because this is how our brain works.   We learned to speak as infants from hearing words over and over and memorizing them.  We learn to read the same way, using the "grammar" of phonetic sounds, putting them together (logic), and understanding the words that they make (rhetoric).  In order to become rhetorical on any subject, you first need to have the grammar base.  Some people get confused by the term grammar and assume it means English grammar.  But grammar in classical education simply refers to "building blocks" or the foundations of education.

Think of a puzzle:

Grammar = puzzle pieces
Logic = putting the pieces together
Rhetoric = completing the puzzle

We had a math emphasis at the conference and as we were working through some math problems together, some us were feeling a bit stupid.  Andy told us that we are not dumb, we didn't know how to solve some of the problems because we didn't have the grammar (building blocks) for them.  So true!  The things I struggled with in school were things I had no grammar for.  I had not been taught the lingo or facts of science, or algebra, but was expected to figure out problems and come up with answers! 

You are never too old to become a grammarian.  If you want to learn to dance, to cook, to speak Chinese, to sew, to change a tire on your car, to homeschool, to ride horses, to do equations in physics, etc. you need to first get the building blocks before you begin to put them together and master them.  I am preparing to tutor my CC kids in Latin by immersing myself in as much of it as I can so that I can learn the terms, eventually understand them, and in turn, share them with my children.

In biblical terms, the trivium could be described as:

Knowledge (grammar)
Understanding (logic)
Wisdom (rhetoric)

Even as I write this post, I'm being rhetorical.  I've gained the information at the conference through taking notes, remembering things I heard and took into my memory bank, processed the info to understand it, and am now sharing it with my blog readers. 

I could write pages and pages about the trivium and the way we learn.  However, others have done far better than me at explaining the trivium in depth.  I suggest you read this article for more grammar on the subject! 

Also, Leigh Bortins has a WONDERFUL, free ebook online called Echo in Celebration, which is a great read!

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