What is a Classical Education?
Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
Grounded in the seven liberal arts (the trivium and quadrivium), the Academy teaches its students how to think like the great thinkers that produced our civilization. Education must not simply seek to impart knowledge of the various disciplines, but more importantly, it should give students the tools whereby they can live a full life, gaining knowledge on their own. These tools will include the ability to reason from premise to conclusion, to distinguish, to articulate well, and to persuade. The Trivium is the basis of elementary education.
The word “trivium” comes from the Latin prefix “tri” meaning “three,” and the Latin root “via” meaning “way,” or “road.” The word literally means “the three-fold way or road.” The trivium refers to the three stages, or ways, of learning that coincide with a child’s cognitive development as he matures. They are the Grammar stage (K-5); Dialectic Stage (6-8) & Rhetoric Stage (9-12) These three laws of learning correspond to the stages of human development and the natural process of learning: Therefore a child will first embark on the stage of brain development that classicists term the grammar stage. In this stage he has a natural affinity for storing up a tremendous amount of information on any number of things, from nursery rhymes to math facts, and recalling that information at will. He will then progress to the stage termed the dialectic, where his abilities to reason are honed and sharpened, and everything is turned into an exercise in argumentation. And lastly he will advance to the rhetoric stage, where self-discovery and expression are the paramount concerns, and where cognitive abilities come into their full flower of maturity. Grammar: “the learning of the body of knowledge of a subject, and most classicists would agree that this is best done by memorization…In terms of cognitive ability, children at this age automatically zero in on the concrete facts. Therefore it is fine at this stage to concentrate on the concrete and leave the analytical and the abstract out of it. Dialectic: "learning to reason, and the body of knowledge learned in the grammar stage is the stuff learning to reason is practiced on. In the grammar stage children learned facts; in the dialectic stage children try to understand the facts they have learned, and begin to relate those facts to one another in a significant way. the emphasis in cognitive skills shifts from the concrete to the analytical. This is where children are naturally inclined to ask the question “Why?” This is where they question what they have learned in the grammar stage to see if it is in fact true. Therefore teaching the science of Logic is critical at this stage. It gives children the tools they need to question accurately and arrive at valid conclusions.” Rhetoric: “focuses on learning the science of communication and the art of expression. In the grammar stage children learned facts; in the dialectic stage children began to understand those facts, and in the rhetoric stage children learn to express what they now understand in the most compelling manner possible. …In this stage, the unknown can be explored because the known is understood; the hypothetical can be introduced and grasped with the mind.”
The Quadrivium is the basis of advanced education.
Arithmetic, teaches the science of number; Music, teaches the science of sound and of "harmony" in the most general sense of the word -- "number in motion", as it was often put);
References: http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/trivium.html#laws &
Geometry, teaches the science of form; Astronomy, teaches the science of time (of "form in motion").