The Curriculum of a Classical and Christian Education

St. Augustine, Boethius, and others, Christianized the classical curriculum.  By the early middle-ages the so-called seven liberal arts were celebrated by the leading thinkers of Europe.  The trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) gave access to reality via linguistic signs; the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy), through mathematics.  The trivium taught the mind to grasp order and beauty particularly as manifest in qualities, the quadrivium, through quantities. 

 “As to those who…make no account of the liberal and fine arts, or are incapable of being instructed in them – I know not how I could call them happy as long as they live among men.”

-St. Augustine (354-430), On Order 2.9.26.

“These seven [arts] they considered  so to excel  all  the  rest  in  usefulness  that  anyone  who  had  been thoroughly schooled in them might afterward come to a knowledge of the others by his own inquiry and effort rather than by  listening to a teacher.  For these, one might say, constitute  the best instruments,   the  best  rudiments,   by  which  the  way  is prepared  for  the  mind’s  complete  knowledge  of  philosophic truth.  Therefore   they are called by the name trivium and quadrivium, because by them, as by certain  ways (viae), a quick mind enters into the secret places of wisdom.”

-Hugh of St. Victor (1096-1141), Didascalicon: A Medieval Guide to the Liberal Arts, 3.3.

“How  can one have a classical curriculum without reading  the  classics? The  answer  is that  one  cannot   have  a classical curriculum in  the fullest and most perfect sense until  one  has students  who are capable of the kind of abstract thinking  required  for a study of the subjects of the Trivium: grammar,  logic, rhetoric;  and the Quadrivium: arithmetic,  geometry,  music and astronomy.”

-Laura Berquist, Leading Catholic Educator and author of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, from her Appendix.