I have come to realize that my childhood education has been spotty in terms of learning to critically think. It got better with specific instructors in high school (Mrs. Fairbanks’ essay writing course comes to mind). Then when I got to college at a private liberal arts institution, I really learned to critically think. But that was all DECADES ago.
Years and years of working in an administrative business environment has chipped away at my ability to read, think and write. LOL!
Therefore, I am starting all over. After a weekend of online researching “self-education”, I came across the foundation of classical education: The Trivium.
Historically, in the medieval period, the Trivium was the study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. A modern interpretation of grammar can be more broadly applied as studying the basics and foundations of any subject. “Logic” is taking this foundational information, analyzing it, and determining its validity and applicability. Finally, “rhetoric” is expressing it either verbally or through writing and by interacting with others on it.
To employ the Trivium model to self-education, the student doesn’t need to stick to traditional subjects. If the student is into, let’s say, quantum physics, this study model can apply.
I, on the other hand, was a history and humanities major so I am going the more traditional route. To my shame, I realized that I have never read the Iliad. My goodness, reading the Iliad is sooooo fundamental to a traditional liberals arts education and some how that never happened. Therefore, I decided to start there.
Here is where I go sideways: I asked an artificial intelligence bot for help. Here is what I told the AI bot (whom I have renamed “Alice”):
Me: I am going to read the Iliad. How would I apply the Trivium study model to this reading?
Alice the Bot: The Trivium study model consists of three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Here’s how you could apply this model to your reading of The Iliad:
Grammar stage: During this stage, you will focus on the basic facts of the text, such as its plot, characters, and setting. You should read the text carefully, taking notes on important details, and using reference materials (such as a dictionary or an encyclopedia) to help you understand any unfamiliar words or concepts. This stage is all about building a foundation of knowledge that you can use in the later stages of analysis.
Logic stage: In this stage, you will focus on the relationships between the different elements of the text. You should analyze the cause-and-effect relationships between events, identify patterns in the characters’ behavior, and evaluate the author’s use of literary devices (such as symbolism, metaphor, and imagery). You should also ask questions about the text, such as why certain events occur or what the author’s message might be.
Rhetoric stage: This stage is all about expressing your own ideas about the text in a clear and effective way. You should use the knowledge and insights you gained in the previous stages to write a thoughtful and well-supported analysis of The Iliad. This analysis should be persuasive and engaging, using evidence from the text to support your arguments and interpretations.
By applying the Trivium study model to your reading of The Iliad, you can deepen your understanding of the text and develop your critical thinking and communication skills. Good luck with your reading!
I then asked Alice to design a “curriculum” or a “syllabus” for me and to recommend readings relevant to the study of the Iliad. She gave me a long list of books on ancient Greek culture, politics and history. That was a little more than what I wanted, so I asked her what she thought about some of the books I already had in my personal library. On all of them, she said the books were good for the general public but were not scholarly. That’s okay.
So using cutting edge artificial intelligence, I am going to study one the most ancient of texts, using a historically medieval model of study.
I think that’s pretty cool.