Author Archives: jimselby

The Art of Rhetoric

The Art of Rhetoric has a basic structure stretching back over two thousand year.  Students master Rhetoric through the five responsibilities of the orator or “cannons.”.  Those canons consist of Rhetoric: Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory, and Delivery.  The first three cannons encompass both the spoken and written word. Memory and Delivery are skill clusters dealing with the spoken word.    

Invention teaches students how to “find” or create arguments.  The skills of Invention include Common and Special Topics. These topics work just as the Heads of Purpose do in the Progymnasmata.  Students have a particular idea (case) they are arguing.  They find Topics (general rules) that apply to the case. Putting these together produces a result or enthymeme argument.

Arrangement teaches students how to put together the ideas of a communication.  Communications about the past or judicial use a basic five or six parts.  These parts include an introduction, exposition, refutation, confirmation, and conclusion. Longer papers or speeches also include a partito.   Communication about the future (deliberative) use this same arrangement.  

Communication about the present (epideictic) use a more complicated arrangement.

Style teaches students six basic style types.  These six styles include fourteen sub categories. We turn once again to Hermogenes here using his classic text On Style.  

In Rhetoric students continue to develop their language mastery or “copia.” This occurs through the ongoing study and use of figures of speech and figures of thought.  Erasmus, De Copia, is our text in all three grades 10-12. 

Logic and Writing

Seventh Grade begins the sixth and seventh stages of our writing program. In Refutation and Confirmation students master the ability to create or “invent” arguments. Writing instruction through the 10th grade builds the capacity of students to invent arguments. Also students learn to arrange the components of compositions according to purpose. In addition students master… Continue Reading

The Academic Curriculum Continued with Logic 

In the 7th grade students transition to the Art of Logic. Formal logic courses will come in the 8th and 9th grades.  However, inductive logic and the advanced skills of analysis begin in 7th.  Students learn inductive logic by reading difficult texts.  The texts come from the Great Books of Western civilization.  The Bible remains central.  Also, writing… Continue Reading

The Academic Curriculum

From Pre-K to 6th grade, the academic curriculum centers on the Art of Grammar and Arithmetic. Grammar may be defined as the art of utilizing (reading) and inventing (writing) symbols. Arithmetic as the art of discrete objects. (Joseph, The Trivium, p.3) Writing instructions is vertically integrated. That simple means that skills build on one another.… Continue Reading

What is the Classical Method?

Skill mastery at Pre-K might look something like this.  Youngsters begin the process of learning grammar through the explicit phonics curriculum we use.   Students memorize each of the 84 discrete phonograms by the end of Kindergarten.  They also begin to learn the 29 English spelling rules.  Students use these phonograms and rules to decode written words (visual language).… Continue Reading

The Trivium Arts

The Trivium Arts of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric train the Mind through language. The Art of Grammar teaches students to problem solve. They learn to look for and identify the parts of any particular problem they might encounter. By breaking a problem into its parts they simplify its solution. For example, in Kindergarten the problem… Continue Reading

Why is Classical Education Successful?

What we teach accounts for half of our success. How we teach is equally important. Our methods are time tested—going back over two thousand years. Emerging human brain research validates these methods. We focus on discrete skills that make up our arts. Classical education builds precept upon precept. Our students learn to identify the grammatical… Continue Reading

Why We Teach Arts rather than Subjects

Our approach to education does not teach subjects but rather Arts.  The goal of an Art is to impart abilities.  The goal of a subject is to impart knowledge.  We seek to graduate students who have the ability to learn any subject. This difference in purpose profoundly impacts educational outcomes.   Contemporary schools are failing. This failure occurs in both… Continue Reading

What is the Quadrivium?

The Quadrivium refers to the four Liberal Arts that pertain to matter. These four arts include Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. They are also referred to as the Mathematical Arts. They train students’ quantitative reasoning. Historically, classical Christian educators looked to the Mathematical Arts to teach wisdom. Plato believed that it was the Quadrivium that… Continue Reading

What is the Trivium?

There are seven Liberal Arts in a classical Christian education. The first three Liberal Arts are called the Trivium Arts. They train the Mind to comprehend (Grammar), analyze (Logic) and then to synthesize (Rhetoric). The art of Grammar teaches students to read and understand texts. Grammar also provides elementary instruction in writing. Historically, students learned… Continue Reading