The Trivium: Revisiting Ancient Strategies for Character Formation

Sabrina Little
Baylor University
R.S. Peters coined the term the “paradox of moral education” to describe the I apply the resources of the classical tradition—poetry and gymnastics, the trivium, and the quadrivium—to examine recent strategies for character formation involving aretaic exemplars. I think there is forgotten wisdom here. We have a map of a productive pedagogical sequence of mixed methods in virtue education. For example, stories are paired with physical training. Virtue concept-learning comes next, and strategies involving imitation are adjusted as a student grows. I make the case that we should not think of virtue formation strategies as stand-alone tools, but as part of a broader narrative of training, suitable to age and building on the work of the methods that preceded them.
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