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The Trivium

The American school system is overtly secular, and adheres rigidly to any number of modern and postmodern educational philosophies.  By contrast New Covenant Schools is thoroughly Christian and our curriculum is self-consciously informed by the ancient Trivium, or “three ways,”  which is the older model underlying the familiar order of elementary, middle, and high school. 

First conceived by the Greeks, ancient education was modified and developed by the Church from the fourth century onward.  The disciplines of the Trivium – grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric – formed the basis of all education for centuries.  Students were prepared for the university by around age 14-16 where they engaged with the Quadrivium – mathematics, music, geometry and astronomy.  Together, these seven disciplines coalesced into the liberal arts, and are the basis of a liberal arts education.  Such a curriculum emphasizes language, literature, mathematics, science and the arts.  It is resistant to educational fads that come and go, and it acquaints the student with the “great conversation” of learning in the Western tradition. 

New Covenant consists of a grammar school, middle school for dialectic, and a school of rhetoric.  These are best understood as modes of education rather than stages, as students experience elements of all three modes at every level.  Naturally, grammar school students focus upon the elementals of their disciplines.  Dialectic students are indulged in argument, debate, and logic, all of which are appropriate to their ages.  Rhetoric students leave none of that behind, but are required to read, write and orally justify their opinions, commitments and claims across the disciplines.  This curriculum is finished in the senior year with the composition and defense of a thesis which is presented to the faculty by every candidate for graduation.