What I learned in school today

While talking about Dorothy Sayers' argument in favor of reviving the medieval educational model of the trivium:

1)  She's right.  We should be teaching grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric as the tools of learning, not worrying about false dichotomies between the "sciences" and the "humanities" (both "subjects" in her terms, not "tools").

2)  We would be much better off thinking of teaching in terms of the medieval scholastic practice of disputatio--defining terms, distinguishing parts of our argument, testing our reasoning on the basis of syllogisms--rather than claiming we are teaching by the "Socratic method," whatever that is. 

3)  Thinking about teaching and learning as exercises in developing tools makes it possible to correct our students (and ourselves) without worrying about hurting anybody's feelings because it makes one's corrections concrete ("You need to define your terms," "There is a fallacy in your argument there," "You are confusing material and final cause"), not personal.


  1. Thanks for this - a friend of mine is working on Dorothy Sayer's medievalism and he will love this. (And, she's right.)


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