In 1947, Dorothy Sayers described the liberal arts as ‘lost tools of learning’. She was talking about a 2-part curriculum that was the foundation of learning from classical times to the late 19th Century. The first part was called the Trivium. Its three subjects were Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. The second part was called the Quadrivium. Its four subjects were Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music.
Sister Miriam Joseph, in her book, The Trivium, refers to Logic as being the study of the thing-as-it-is-known; Grammar, the study of the thing-as-it-is-symbolised; Rhetoric, the study of the thing-as-it-is-communicated. She also describes the liberal arts as education that develops the learner from within, acting upon him like an intransitive verb (eg ‘A rose blooms’).
It is the integration of the subjects that is so vital in bringing the liberal arts to life within a person, helping them bloom. It is this integrated approach that enables a person to develop as a free-thinker, and grow in wisdom and intelligence, developing their natural abilities and talents in a holistic way.
It is not a conventional approach. Far from it.
But this is how I teach.
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