Diane Lockman has added a unique contribution to the discussion of what is a classical education and how to implement such in a homeschool setting. She breaks away from the Dorothy Sayers model of a three-stage Trivium, but distances herself equally from a focus on traditional classical languages and literature. Instead, she focuses on the Trivium as a means to acquire the tools of language, thought, and speech. She argues that once these skills are effectively mastered a student will be equipped to delve into the study of serious science, classics, etc. Trivium Mastery includes sections on helping students develop skills in language (with a focus on reading), critical thinking and logic, and speech and persuasion.
The most interesting and unique feature of this books is a series of case studies, which the author designates as Classical Makeovers, highlighting real families Lockman has worked with to streamline and refocus their homeschooling efforts towards developing the skills of the Trivium. She evaluates each child’s standing with regards to mastery of the three skills, then proposes a roadmap to help them improve their skills over the next year. In doing so she shows us a way to evaluate our own children and their progress, and to personalize a program of study for each child according to their needs.
I appreciated the reminder that primary education really can be reduced to helping a child develop their basic skills and abilities, without a lot of bells and whistles. Some of the recommendations seemed rather formulaic, and I think that each family needs to carefully evaluate their own priorities and the complex needs of children. This book is a worthwhile read for those interested in classical education for its unique perspective on what the classical skills of the Trivium really mean in our modern time and why they are still important.