The Trivium for Life

Life is full of phases.  We enter them, we pass through them, and then we're done.  Just how it's supposed to be.   But as we come out the other side of a phase, we always carry something permanent away.

This is one of the beauties of the Trivium, both for us and our children.  Here's why:

1. In the Grammar Stage, students learn by repetition and singing in class because . . . they love repetition and singing at home ("Mommy? Mommy?  Mommy?" or three-hour loops of a single chorus from Frozen).  It's a phase.  But even though they leave the Grammar Phase in 6th Grade, we want them to carry its basic outlook into adulthood -- like God.  As Chesterton said, "It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon . . . [He] has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

2. In the Logic Stage, students learn how to think neatly in all their classes.  Why not theistic Evolution?  Why did Rome fall?  Why is this story in your history text and not that one?  Why are you right and they wrong?  Who says?  Kids like being argumentative just because at this age.  It's a phase.  But we want them to carry Logic's basic outlook permanently -- like God.  "Come, let us reason together, says the Lord" (Is. 1:18), and "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1).

3. In the Rhetoric Stage, students learn how to make their knowledge persuasive and beautiful.  They're interested in making people believe them (especially college admissions officers).  It's a phase.  But we want them to carry Rhetoric's basic outlook permanently -- like God.  "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Ps. 12:6).

What we put into our kids doesn't easily come out -- and when it comes to the Trivium, that's a very good thing.

Grace and Peace, Nate Ahern