Welcome to the Trivium Binder, a new and useful resource for those seeking the path of liberal learning

While there have always been seven liberal arts and sciences, they have also always been divided into the liberal arts, a group of three subjects called the Trivium, and the liberal sciences which is a group of four subjects called the Quadrivium. The Quadrivium focuses solely upon the study of number in its various forms (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) but the Trivium first puts the student in touch with the systematic instruction in language and thought (by the subjects of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) which was necessary to comprehend the instruction and results of the sciences of the Quadrivium. The Trivium learning path is one that provides time-tested methods and skills for learning HOW to learn--- anything. Modern educational systems merely focus on WHAT to learn with no attention being drawn to the very concept of learning in and of itself. Many in the liberal learning tradition would draw the distinction between schooling and education. In this light, schooling can be seen as the process by which subjects are taught, individually, and with no integration of knowledge and understanding. Education then consists in first knowing HOW to learn ANY subject (as the method is always the same) and applying this ability to think and learn throughout an entire lifetime. In essence, education can only begin once schooling has ended. The goal of the Trivium Binder is to provide a helpful introduction to Trivium learning for those either in school or those who have left school and are looking to explore their full mental potential. It was a saying of the 20th century philosopher and educator, Mortimer Adler, that, “Philosophy is everybody’s business.” The Trivium is the key to the philosophical path because it provides the intellectual tools needed to ask the big questions in life and to follow them wherever they may lead. The rational mind is the birth-right of every human being, but it remains latent within us all until we make the choice to begin developing it. The path of liberal learning, via the Trivium, provides us all with a time-tested way to unlock that higher function of our mind, and to reclaim our birth-right.

What is a Trivium Binder?
The biggest problem that modern students encounter when seeking the liberal learning path is the lack of an organized set of materials which makes clear the territory that lie ahead. There are many different interpretations of how liberal learning is to be done, and very little of that literature appeals to the modern 21st century audience. One could easily come away with the idea that liberal learning is strictly for intellectuals, or for manipulative, elitist interests, or book worms. One could also believe that the method of liberal learning is ancient, outdated, obsolete. The intention of the Trivium Binder is to

show that such a learning path is far from obsolete and is something that can be applied by all, regardless of class or intellectual distinction. By compiling some of the best resources available into one three-ring binder, the Trivium Binder provides an introduction for the beginning student of the liberal learning path which sets a basic foundation for what will become a lifetime of advanced learning experiences. The true value in compiling these resources into one package is that not only can a student engage in these studies individually, but that the format lends itself well for use in study groups. To gather together with a group of people to learn the basic ropes of the Trivium is to empower that group of people with the ability to go on and study any subject, either individually or in groups, and to use the results of that education for the good of self, family, community, and society. We do not study the Trivium to gain control over others, but rather to grow wise together as we uplift one another. The Trivium as presented in this compilation begins with the basic template provided by Gene Odening, the man who appeared as a guest on the Gnostic Media podcast to talk about the path of liberal learning. From that basic starting point, the current presentation on the Trivium has emerged. As you will see later on, the Trivium can be thought of to contain a suite of Subjects, an actual Method, and a set of Skills. While historically it has been the Trivium Subjects which were focused on, modern educators realize that implied within the study of the Subjects are the Method and the Skills. This distinction helps the modern student more readily grasp the true potential of the Trivium while also indicating how to better explore its full offering. The Trivium Binder does not provide all that is needed to study in the liberal fashion, but it does provide a worthy introduction for students at all levels. By starting with the Trivium Binder, modern students can come to the realization that education cannot be taught, it must be lived. Teachers cannot provide you with the powers of your own mind, they can only serve as guides towards that ultimate goal. Nor can teachers be the most useful to you if they do not have for themselves the very tools of learning which you will soon discover.

The Trivium Binder is arranged into six sections: Intro, The Trivium, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Miscellaneous. Following is a brief description of the materials found in each section. Intro Starting out with this introductory essay, the Intro section then contains two more pieces of information for the modern student. Each section will begin with a summary by Gene Odening, but for this Intro section, two short essays are provided. The Discussion On Consciousness and essay on Critical Thinking help to orient the student and distinguish

the different kinds of human experience, as well as how the critical mind can be displayed in different types of people. The Trivium After Gene’s summary, there is the essay which presents the Trivium as Subjects, Method, and Skills. By more fully understanding the Method and Skills of the Trivium, the Trivium Subjects (and ALL other subjects, for that matter) become much more easily obtained. Then we have W R Connors’ wonderful essay, “Liberal Arts Education in the Twenty-First Century” which stresses the importance of skills in the liberal arts. Then we have excerpts from William Super’s A Liberal Education and the entire essay by Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning which by itself has sparked much interest in the liberal learning path amongst homeschooling families. Then the section is ended by the first few chapters of Susan Wise Bauer’s A Well-Educated Mind which provides the Trivium Method as it is applied to reading the “Great Books” of the world. Grammar The Grammar section and the Logic section both are probably a little thin, but the reality is that such subjects require entire textbooks to fully explore so only general indication can be given here. For the Grammar section, we have the first few chapters from Graded Lessons in English, by Reed & Kellog. First discovered by the editor in David Mulroy’s War Against Grammar, “Graded Lessons” provides a self-initiatory text book with clear descriptions and the realization that most grammar lessons can be quite boring and dry. Then we have excerpts from the book, Less Than Words Can Say, by the Underground Grammarian, Richard Mitchell. Mitchell’s arguments can sometimes be subtle, with a sharp and dry humor that can sometimes be missed, but his message is clear: The English language is under attack everywhere, and there is no sense in letting that happen. Logic Again, the Logic section is a bit thin but it is required to further explore the subject either through text book, audio lecture, or actual course work. But for our purposes it is enough to provide Gene’s summary and the Handlist of Logical Fallacies, as logical fallacies are one of the very powerful tools we have for understanding information and detecting deception and misunderstandings in conversations or other forms of communication of ideas.

Rhetoric While certainly entire courses and textbooks are devoted to the study of Rhetoric, it is also true that some of the very essential parts of Rhetoric can be taught as skills and presented simply for the beginning student. Here we start with Gene’s summary which covers briefly such things as the Five Canons and Aristotle’s Three Appeals. Then we go on to a more detailed exposition taken from Andrew Cline’s Rhetorica website. Then we have a useful article by Richard Larson, Discovery Through Questioning: A Plan For Teaching Rhetorical Invention which gives the student much to work with. Trish Roberts-Miller’s Understanding Misunderstandings is a great introduction to the Rhetorical Analyses, with some focus on the immediately useful tool, The Rhetorical Triangle. Then we have more excerpts from Cline’s Rhetorica. Miscellaneous This section contains things that either didn’t fit elsewhere, or that are of certain lower qualities in scan. The short excerpt from Robert Lawlors Sacred Geometry also gives a preview of some of the studies one finds in the Quadrivium. While the Trivium Binder is the result of an individual effort, the invitation is open to suggest amendments, additions, clarifications, and any other collaborative or critical input.

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