Unpacking the Trivium

Understanding Bradford Academy’s Classical Teaching Model: The Trivium

When we say Bradford Academy is a classical Christian school, we are referring to how we teach our students. That’s where the Trivium comes in — it’s a proven, centuries-old method of teaching that takes into account a growing, evolving child’s academic, social, and emotional development. We build our curriculum on top of our Trivium foundation, giving Bradford Academy students the advantage of an education that is naturally in sync with their growing skill sets.

Come see classical education in action!

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or call (919) 563.9001.

What is the Trivium and why is it important?

The Trivium has three components: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In the case of the Trivium, grammar isn’t strictly semantics and language. Instead, it refers to knowledge, and the rote memorization of facts and data. Next comes logic, or the understanding of the how and why those facts fit together. Finally, rhetoric is the proper use of understanding and knowledge. When you put it all together — grammar, logic, and rhetoric —  you have mastery, or comprehensive knowledge.

How is the Trivium different from modern teaching methods?

Children need to master information before they can begin interpreting and manipulating it. Modern teaching methods don’t spend enough time on mastery of material, instead expecting students to comprehend material on their own time and at their own pace, which frequently doesn’t manifest in a thorough knowledge and understanding of material.

Modern teaching methods are in a constant state of flux — new curriculums are introduced every few years, oftentimes with little to no research on effective teaching and learning. The classical model of the Trivium is based on hundreds of years of proven performance as it insists on mastering material before you begin to understand it and question it.

For detailed information about Bradford Academy’s curriculum and classroom experience, please visit “A Day in the Life” of a Bradford Academy student. 

How does the Trivium translate to my child’s classroom experience?

Here’s a breakdown of how the Trivium ‘s classical teaching model shows up in Bradford Academy classrooms:


The GRAMMAR  years

6th-9th grade

The LOGIC years

9th – 12th grade

The RHETORIC years

These are the years emphasizing rote memorization and the accumulation of basic facts and skill sets. Young children love concrete “black and white facts,” so we focus on the grammar of things to instruct in the early grades.  Younger children enjoy singing, chanting, and reciting bare facts, and are less interested in the abstract and nuances of information.  These are the years emphasizing the understanding of the relationships among facts and information.  As the students grow they become less interested in mere facts but instead become more interested in how it all fits together.  If you know any middle school students, you know their tendency to argue.  This is the perfect age to teach them how to do it well with logic and discernment. Formal logic is included in this stage of learning. Students are taught to take the knowledge learned in the previous stage, work with it, and deepen their own understanding. As students mature, the inclination changes; older students long for independence and self-expression. These are the years emphasizing creating and expressing one’s self beautifully and persuasively.  Students are taught to build upon the knowledge they have acquired, reason through implications, and form and present original thoughts.


Come see classical education in action!

Schedule a tour or call (919) 563.9001.

Tell me more about the history of the Trivium.

The Trivium was historically the first three subjects in what was known as the seven liberal arts.  By liberal arts, educators meant those skills, or arts, that were necessary for the free man to live and lead in a free society.

We understand that true learning, or mastery, occurs at the point where knowledge, understanding, and wisdom intersect.  The ancient scholastics also embraced this reality and formed the three subjects of grammar (essentially knowledge and facts), logic (synthesis of data, understanding, and logic), and rhetoric (the discovery and proper presentation or use of original thought).  These first three subjects laid the foundation for all learning.  Once they’re mastered, the student is well prepared to pursue and study anything.