Trivium Mastery is a revolutionary look at the classical education model. Author, former CPA, and homeschool mom Diane B. Lockman researched the classical method and found some wrong assumptions regarding the trivium which have led to discrepancies in the original intent and current practice of classical education in the homeschooling community. The book begins with a brief overview of the history of classical education and contrasts this with the current classical movement.
According to the author's research, during ages 11-14, classically educated children began and quickly mastered all three stages, and then in high school "they were able to study discrete ideas in depth." In other words, "concurrent does not equal consecutive." Diane Lockman says, "[M]y objections relate to the current classical renewal movement's uncritical affirmation of [Dorothy L.] Sayers' personal opinion on child development as gospel truth and unquestioning application of Sayers' hypothesis to a 12 year public school schedule." And she further states, "The urban legend of the 'twelve-year three-stage trivium' is a commonly held story used to legitimize the imposition of a public school schedule on a classical education."
After this thesis, the author explores the three "roads" of the trivium: language, thought, and speech, which are her terms for the former grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages. She clearly states how to use this book and thereby revamp your classical homeschool. First of all, ensure personal mastery of the trivium and implement self-education as needed. Second, review the interview questions in the appendix and use the three "road maps" (described below) to evaluate each child's progress. Third, make a plan based on the results of the evaluation process.
Several chapters are devoted to each of the three road maps (language, thought, and speech), including a list of specific skills for each and strategies for achieving the skills listed. Diane Lockman has some excellent ideas here, many of which can be implemented without spending a cent: reading and discussing newspaper editorials with children, keeping a learning journal of your own and sharing it with your children, training your children to give concise and direct answers when dialoguing to name a few.
Homeschool "makeovers" make up the second half of Trivium
Mastery. Diane Lockman interviews and examines five homeschool families with a total of 12 children, ages 5-13. (Her upcoming sequel, Socratic
Paideia: Dialogue Drives Instruction, covers the high school years.) Here you see the author's evaluation process at work as she analyzes the education within real homeschool situations and provides specific game plans for each child. By the way, the author believes in leaving Latin and science to the high school years.
In this section of makeovers, the reader will find brilliant ideas to use in one's classical homeschool: have an older child who has trouble emoting when he reads orally pick some easy picture books from the library to practice reading out loud to you; spend a week at a time learning individual literary elements using a book the child is currently reading; choose a topic of interest from the encyclopedia to practice outlining skills. This is just a mere sampling of the myriad suggestions. The author does an exceptional job of tailoring assignments to the individual child, capitalizing on his or her interests and gifts: playing mystery board games to improve thinking skills, including words from recipes on spelling lists, and memorizing a speech from a book on knights. Diane Lockman's worldview is apparent in her references to the Bible as both an example of classical education and a tool for classical education.
In the appendices, you will find interview questions for evaluating your own homeschool and a long set of Assessment Tools. I wish there were specific instructions accompanying these. Some of them are clearly meant for testing skills; some are more like reference keys. For example, what is the recommended use for the five reading excerpts? Oral reading check? Reading comprehension? Dictation exercises? Perhaps I missed something.
An index would be a helpful addition to this book. And although many useful titles are mentioned throughout, I wish the author had included an annotated list of recommended curriculum resources. Also, it would be interesting to know the ages of her children, but I could not find that in any of the author bio info in the book.
I believe Trivium Mastery has the potential to attract a dedicated following similar to that of other current classical homeschool manuals, and I eagerly await the publication of the sequel. I would encourage all homeschoolers to take a good look at this book, especially those who have discarded the classical paradigm because they thought it was too difficult to attain.