Marshall Education Group can implement a complete PreK-G12 classical curriculum for homeschools, coops, new day schools and schools that are converting or supplementing their educational program to the classical model. We can customize the curriculum plan or integrate Classical Learning Repository owned by Confluence Courseware, a strategic partner.

What is Classical Education?

Classical education is pedagogy in the Western tradition of becoming fully human through the liberal arts and the gymnasium. It inculcates grammar, ancient and modern language and literature, reasoning and the art of persuasion across the curriculum, mathematics, sciences, arts, and physicality. It is the acquisition of truth, goodness and beauty.

In the 1940’s the British author, Dorothy Sayers, wrote an essay entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning.” In it she calls for a return to the application of the seven liberal arts of ancient education, the first three being the “Trivium” – grammar, logic, rhetoric. Miss Sayers also compares the three stages of children’s development to the Trivium. Specifically, she matches what she calls the “Poll-parrot” stage with grammar, “Pert” with logic, and “Poetic” with rhetoric. Doug Wilson explained the classical method further in his book, “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.” CDA has been committed to implementing this form of education since the school’s inception.

An excerpt from Doug Wilson’s book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning:

“The structure of our curriculum is traditional with a strong emphasis on “the basics.” We understand the basics to be subjects such as mathematics, history, and language studies. Not only are these subjects covered, they are covered in a particular way. For example, in history class the students will not only read their text, they will also read from primary sources. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric will be emphasized in all subjects. By grammar, we mean the fundamental rules of each subject (again, we do not limit grammar to language studies), as well as the basic data that exhibit those rules. In English, a singular noun does not take a plural verb. In logic, A does not equal not A. In history, time is linear, not cyclic. Each subject has its own grammar, which we require the students to learn. This enables the student to learn the subject from the inside out.

The logic of each subject refers to the ordered relationship of that subject’s particulars (grammar). What is the relationship between the Reformation and the colonization of America? What is the relationship between the subject and the object of a sentence? As the students learn the underlying rules or principles of a subject (grammar) along with how the particulars of that subject relate to one another (logic), they are learning to think. They are not simply memorizing fragmented pieces of knowledge.

The last emphasis is rhetoric. We want our students to be able to express clearly everything they learn. As essay in history must be written as clearly as if it were an English paper. An oral presentation in science should be as coherent as possible. It is not enough that the history or science be correct. It must also be expressed well.”

The Stages of Learning

The Grammar Stage: Students in grades pre-kindergarten through four focus on the grammar stage of learning. Memorization and drill using rhyme, rhythm and recitation regularly characterizes classroom instruction. One primary teacher may be supplemented by specialists in the Arts and Latin at the various grade levels. The teacher introduces concepts and provides a schedule of assignments for reinforcement at home.

The Logic Stage: Students in grades six through eight mature into the understanding, logic, dialectic or reasoning stage of the classical trivium. Although memorization and drill regarding content continue, students begin to ask and answer “how” and “why” questions regarding their studies. In grade eight, students formally study Logic as a well-ordered system. Younger students in grades five and six continue to have a primary teacher supplemented by specialists, while students in grades seven and eight transition into the university-style schedule. Teachers assign home studies to provide proper pacing to complete subject content over the course of the school year. A tuition-based study and tutorial center is available upon request.

The Rhetoric Stage: High school studies include the grammar of each subject, but concentrate on developing the logic and rhetoric stages of the classical trivium. Students may enroll in three or more courses on a university-style schedule. Each course includes classroom instruction two hours per week at the school site. Some courses include a laboratory or studio component and meet a third day per week. The balance of the educational program will continue at home where the parent supervises each student’s directed study. A tuition-based study and tutorial center is available upon request. Selected courses culminate with the Advanced Placement exam for qualified students.

The following material is drawn from the essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers. It illustrates the applications of the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) we use.

Beginning Grammar
(Pre-Polly) GRAMMAR
(Poll-Parrot) LOGIC
Grades K-2

Approx. ages 4-8

Grades 3-6

Approx. ages 9-11

Grades 7-9

Approx. ages 12-14

Grades 10-12

Approx. ages 15-18

Student Characteristics

1. Obviously excited about learning

2. Enjoys games, stories, songs, projects

3. Short attention span

4. Wants to touch, taste, feel, smell, see

5. Imaginative, creative

Student Characteristics

1. Excited about new, interesting facts

2. Likes to explain, figure out, talk

3. Wants to relate own experiences to topic, or just to tell a story

4. Likes collections, organizing items

5. Likes chants, clever, repetitious word sounds (e.g. Dr. Seuss)

6. Easily memorizes

7. Can assimilate another language well

Student Characteristics

1. Still excitable, but needs challenges

2. Judges, critiques, debates, critical

3. Likes to organize items, others

4. Shows off knowledge

5. Wants to know “behind the scenes” facts

6. Curious about Why? for most things

7. Thinks, acts as though more knowledgeable than adults

Student Characteristics

1. Concerned with present events, especially in own life

2. Interested in justice, fairness

3. Moving toward special interests, topics

4. Can take on responsibility, independent work

5. Can do synthesis

6. Desires to express feelings, own ideas

7. Generally idealistic

Teaching Methods

1. Guide discovering

2. Explore, find things

3. Use lots of tactile items to illustrate point

4. Sing, play games, chant, recite, color, draw, paint, build

5. Use body movements

6. Short, creative projects

7. Show and Tell, drama, hear/read/tell stories

8. Field trips

Teaching Methods

1. Lots of hands-on work, projects

2. Field trips, drama

3. Make collections, displays, models

4. Integrate subjects through above means

5. Categorize, classify

6. Recitations, memorizations, catechisms

7. Drills, games

8. Oral/written presentations

Teaching Methods

1. Time lines, charts, maps (visual materials)

2. Debates, persuasive reports

3. Drama, reenactments, role-playing

4. Evaluate, critique (with guidelines)

5. Formal logic

6. Research projects
7. Oral/written presentations

8. Guest speakers, trips

Teaching Methods

1. Drama, oral presentations

2. Guide research in major areas with goal of synthesis of ideas

3. Many papers, speeches, debates

4. Give responsibilities, e.g. working with younger students, organize activities

5. In-depth field trips, even overnight

6. Worldview discussion/written papers