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Education - State of ED Last: 01/19/2016

Laurie Endicott Thomas discusses her book Not Trivial - How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free.

Why are there so many problems within our modern education system? In theory, our schools should be better than they've ever been, but growing numbers of people are embarking on their adult lives as functionally illiterate. Despite the best efforts of educators, much of the system is thus increasingly unfit for purpose. This has enormous implications for society in general, and politics in particular. Is this by accident, or by design? Are there hidden agendas at work? Upon investigation, it would seem that the true purpose of compulsory state education is less about liberation and freedom of opportunity, and more about control, coercion, and churning out compliant consumers and obedient workers willing to take their allotted place in society's hierarchy. When direct oppression is no longer possible, deliberate dumbing down will do just as well.

Laurie Endicott Thomas
Control, Coercion and State Education

From Her Book

The ancient liberal arts curriculum was divided into seven subjects that were sorted into two groups. The first group was called the trivium (literally, three courses) because it consisted of the three arts of discourse: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The other four subjects (the quadrivium) were the arts of number: mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy.

The trivium consisted of subjects that any educated person was expected to have mastered. If something was trivial, there was no need to explain it to an educated person. Mathematicians still use the word trivial in that sense. However, the overwhelming tide of English usage has swept the word in a different direction. It is now generally used to mean unimportant facts, such as the answers in the game Trivial Pursuit.

Lately, political discourse in the United States seems to have been getting worse and worse. Part of the problem is that many of us were taught in childhood that it is impolite to talk about religion or politics. Many of us were also taught that it is impolite to talk about money and sex. Unfortunately, this means that people end up believing that it is impolite to talk about what they think is true, about what they think is good, and about what they want out of life. If polite people refuse to talk about those things, then impolite people will dominate those discussions. Yet democracy is based on the idea of people having discussions and reaching consensus about important topics.

Thomas, Laurie Endicott (2013-09-16). Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free (pp. 6-8). Freedom of Speech Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The traditional liberal arts curriculum was broken down into seven subjects. The three verbal arts (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) were called the trivium. Those three subjects have to be introduced in that order.

Grammar is the study of how to combine and alter words to make meaningful sentences. You need to understand some grammatical principles in order to study logic, which deals with how to put those sentences together into arguments. The study of logic enables you to base your opinions on facts and to use logical arguments to persuade other people.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Logic (logos) is one of the three means of persuasion. The other two are character (ethos) and emotions (pathos). People who have studied logic and rhetoric are better able to persuade others. Perhaps more importantly, they are more likely to demand logical arguments and less likely to be swept away by a charismatic leader who plays on their emotions. Thatís why the liberal arts have always been valued in societies with a democratic or republican form of government and suppressed by tyrannical governments. Itís also why the liberal arts have traditionally been taught to children who are expected to grow up to be somebody and withheld from those who are expected to be nobody.

Thomas, Laurie Endicott (2013-09-16). Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free (p. 26). Freedom of Speech Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Studies for Free People

The classical liberal arts are a set of seven subjects that were highly valued by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The three verbal arts made up the Trivium, which simply meant three courses:

There were also four arts of number, space, and time. They were called the Quadrivium, which meant four courses:

  • Mathematics (the art of number)
  • Geometry (the art of number and space)
  • Music (the art of number and time)
  • Astronomy (the art of number, space, and time)

In this video, I explain what these studies are, and how they help you become wise and reasonable:

The liberal arts curriculum was developed in ancient Athens. The Athenians felt that this curriculum gave students a well-rounded education. Their term for "well-rounded education" gave rise to our term encyclopaedia. These seven subjects help students learn to think rationally and express themselves reasonably and persuasively

Read more at Not Trivial Book.