The Trivium: The “grammar stage” of each subject is the fundamental rules of that subject. The “logic stage” is the ordered relationship of particulars in each subject. The “rhetoric stage” is how the grammar and logic of each stage may be clearly expressed. While contemporary classical Christian education divides K-12 into these three stages of (K-6 is grammar school, 7-8 is logic school, and 9-12 is rhetoric school), teachers in each course divide particular courses into this three fold pattern of pedagogy.
Primary Texts: Learning content by reading from original sources, our students learn to chew for themselves, thereby strengthening their intellectual and emotional faculties through direct interaction with great texts and great ideas. It is not good enough to read the recipe of a good dish, or even hear someone else describe the dish for you. It is not even enough to have someone try to remake the dish. A great meal must be experienced.
Exploration and Imitation: One of the most important teaching tools available to the teacher is the students themselves, their own imaginations, and their free curiosities. Humans naturally want to understand, to ask and answer questions from exploration and understanding. This is most especially true of children. Therefore, the classical Christian classroom seeks to engage and enliven the child’s imagination, using their own desire for knowledge, truth, and discovery in the pathway to knowledge.
Socratic Method: This method is a teacher-led, student engaged pedagogy of discussion and dialogue. Named after the first major Greek philosopher Socrates, in this method the instructor seeks to lead students to a reasonable conclusion by asking them a series of questions. The Socratic method assumes students are being taught the art of speaking and listening well.
Lectures: Classical Christian education primarily employs excellent teachers, rather than simply utilizing curricula. Teachers are the text. This does not mean texts are not vital, only that teachers are to have an expertise in elaboration and explanation which goes beyond the specific text. This places before our students living, breathing academic models worthy of imitation.
Order and Decorum: Classroom management is necessary for a proper education. This means the overall school culture and the culture of each classroom ought to showcase and expect order and decorum (etiquette). When rules are properly and graciously enforced, there is true freedom.
Rigor is not Mortis: Classical Christian schools expect much from their students, holding them to a standard of both moral and academic excellence. When rigor occurs in the midst of a healthy community, gracious teachers, and good books, learning is enjoyed for its own sake.