The "classical" method began in the Middle Ages and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place.
All the tools come together in the rhetoric stage, where communication is the primary focus. Popular books on the classical approach include The Well-Trained Mind: A guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer and Recovering the Lost tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. Also available is the book Teaching the Trivium by Harvie and Laurie Bluedorn from Trivium Pursuit (1-309-537-3641).
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