Thales image

The Trivium

'Pursuit of a good life' 

What is the Trivium? 

Trivium means 'the three ways' and it is the foundation of classical education. The three subjects of the Trivium are:

  • Grammar (which at Springwest we call 'Knowledge') 
  • Dialectic
  • Rhetoric 

Knowledge (grammar) is learning about the way things are or were. Dialectic allows us to question these ideas and views and Rhetoric enables us to communicate our views. We see this as the foundation of all learning. 

The aim of the Trivium is to enable students to become 'Philosopher Kids' who are curious about the world around them, seek to learn more about many things both within and beyond the curriculum and aim to become well rounded individuals. 

Trivium Diagram


How does the Trivium inform our practice at Springwest?

At Springwest, the Trivium informs our teaching practice across the school. This can be seen clearly in Character Education where Year 8 students are exposed to the teachings of the Ancient Greek Philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and also ethical theories such as Utilitarianism and Kantianism. They also learn to distinguish between inductive and deductive arguments and how to create syllogisms. Another example of how the Trivium is used is in our first Year 7 English unit on 'Rhetoric'. Students are taught classical speeches from great orators such as Pericles, Alexander the Great and Cicero, which they then discuss and critique before writing and performing their own speech.

The phases of Knowledge, Dialectic and Rhetoric can be seen in lessons across the curriculum and underpin our focus on oracy. We empower teachers to support the development of oracy in lessons through our CPD. 

The Trivium also informs our off timetable Character Days where students take part in many different workshops based on our Character Virtues: Performance Virtues, Civic Virtues, Moral Virtues and Intellectual Virtues. For example, Year 9 have a political speeches workshop and a moral dilemmas workshop. 

'Nothing is more active than thought, for it travels over the universe' (Thales of Miletus, shown in the picture at the top of this page. He was so perplexed by the stars that he fell down a well)

Plato aristotle