A Medieval education

I said there were many models for education and now I’ll look at one of the oldest to see if it’s still relevant.  The classical Trivium and Quadrivium model dates from the Roman Empire and persisted well past the Middle Ages.  The Trivium, which was considered basic (it’s the origin of the word trivial), consisted of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  The Quadrivium subjects were considered advanced and included astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, and music.  Let’s update them for today.

The Trivium actually meets the “good oral and written communication skills” requirement commonly seen in job ads.  Grammar provides the mechanics of the language, logic the ability to formulate good arguments and recognize fallacious ones, and rhetoric (ignoring the negative political connotation) simply means being able to present ideas clearly, concisely, and convincingly.

The Quadrivium needs a bit more work.  First expand music to “arts”, expand astronomy to “science and technology”, combine arithmetic and geometry into “mathematics” and do something with the now empty fourth place.  That fourth place is where history, geography, civics, economics, personal finance, and even service projects fit, and it could simply be called “civics”.  Maybe we could call the T/Q combination a “Triquad”.

Add to this simple model a range of athletic, intellectual, and social extracurricular activities  and the model meets the three requirements of my mission statement.  Notice that it’s just a model, and a high level one.  It says nothing about how any subject should be taught or about standardized testing.   This was just a fun digression from the serious topics.


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