Tag Archives: Trivium

Clear Thinking

Once we learn to read deeply, we find the need to evaluate and expand upon what we’ve learned.

To this end, we learn to think more clearly by using the Trivium and other tools:

From Aristotle’s Organon via the Trivium

  • Deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Syllogisms and Aristotelian logic to understand and form propositions and arguments
  • Topics and dialectics as a means of wrestling with questions beyond the scope of scientific reasoning

Visualization tools

  • The Dialectic Bridge
  • Concept Mapping
  • Dramatization

Seeing ideas and propostions clearly allows even visual learners and kinesthenic learners to clarify their thinking.

How I Teach


I work on the premise that iron sharpens iron.

To advance intellectually, we must run the mind up against even harder and sharper steel in the form of great writing about great ideas by great people.   I work to ensure that this interaction creates the quantity and quality of friction that sharpens without cutting.  See Mortimer Adler speak on this topic here (highly recommended)

To that end, I seek to hold creative tensions between:

  • Edifying challenge and delightful ease.
  • Material that is “over the student’s head” and being sensitive to exactly where the student is today (skills, knowledge, and emotional/physical state).
  • Focused intellectual work and integrating body, heart, and mind.

Experience samples of my teaching (mp3s)

Tools I use:


The Trivium

  • Grammatical analysis to discover meaning
  • Logical analysis and logical fallacies to steer thinking towards truth
  • Rhetorical analysis to add beauty and grace to expression

Socratic Method

  • Leading Questions


  • Time and Space Mapping
  • Concept Mapping
  • Mind Mapping
  • Drawing

Writing Exercises

  • Pastiche – using great writing as a model for our own
  • Note Taking – capturing ideas from conversation and reading
  • Journaling – to strengthen the heart, brain, and hand connection
  • Editorial – practice reading your own work with fresh eyes


In a 1:1 tutoring  or private class session we might:

  1. Review prior work, discuss successes and challenges
  2. Check in on skills practiced since last session
  3. Read some fresh material with support from me
  4. Use Trivium tools to deepen our understanding of the topic and sharpen those skills
  5. Discuss the material using the Socartic Method
  6. Seek to vizualize part of the piece to make it more real and to impress it in our minds
  7. Begin writing a short piece about what we’ve read and discussed
  8. Prepare to work at home on continuing the reading and writing assignment

In a public class or camp we might, on day 1:

  1. Introduce ourselves and loosen up a bit with a short anecdote
  2. Walk for a few minutes to get our blood pumping to a grassy spot
  3. Dive right into taking turns reading aloud to the group (those who feel comfortable)
  4. I open our Socratic discussion with a leading question
  5. Our discussion begins
  6. We continue our discussion as we walk to a spot a few hundred meters away
  7. We read a bit more aloud
  8. We take time to visualize the scene we’ve just read about
  9. We spend 15-30 minutes drawing what we visualized
  10. We read a bit more and start our discussion anew
  11. We walk on as we share insights and invite those who have yet to share to do so
  12. Etc, etc. until our 3 hours have flown by and we return to the pick up area bodies fully alive and minds abuzz


Experience samples of my teaching

See the classes offered

See my qualifications

See my rates

Classical Tutoring

Classical tutoring defined:

Private instruction given to a student by a highly skilled teacher focused solely on helping the student build a strong, broad academic base from which to build a habit of excellent life-long learning.  These tutors often used the proven Enlightenment techniques of the Trivium and Quadrivium.  In days of yore, only the extremely wealthy could afford this best of educations.  Today, Christ Church college, part of Oxford University in England, still uses this 1:1 student:tutor method with famous results.

Christ Church says of its tutorial system,

It is an academic partnership that is both personal and demanding. Through it you should learn to think independently and critically, to form, express and, when necessary, revise or defend your own views, and never to be content with a superficial understanding.

The benefits for your student:

1. Undivided Attention – from a passionate, creative, patient teacher.

2. Tailored Curriculum – to meet the student’s and parents’ needs and interests.

3. Personal Pacing – to maintain your progress and active involvement.

4. Faster Progress – and increased momentum gained toward a love of life-long learning.

5. Advanced Skills – that classroom teachers would love to teach, but often can’t because they must “teach to the middle”.

6. Deep Insights – into the subject matter because little time is wasted on classroom management.

Using technology (Skype or Google Talk). this type of private tutoring relationship is now affordable and practical to deliver to families like yours.

Will this work for your student?

Yes, if your student is:

  • Between the ages of 7 and 18.
  • Without major special educational needs – I am not trained to offer services for students with these exceptional needs.
  • Homeschooled and looking for challenge beyond what parents have time or energy to offer themselves.
  • In public or private school but seeking more challenge, support, and/or enrichment.

How much does it cost?

Contact us if you’d like to discuss the possibilities for your student.