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Trivium 21c: Preparing Young People for the Future with Lessons From the Past

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Universities in the Middle Ages focused on three skills to develop the intellectual abilities of students, one - grammar, two - logic, and three - rhetoric. In this well-researched and fascinating work discover how these three tenets are as relevant in education today as they were eight hundred years ago. Martin Robinson has taught for twenty years in state schools in Londo Universities in the Middle Ages focused on three skills to develop the intellectual abilities of students, one - grammar, two - logic, and three - rhetoric. In this well-researched and fascinating work discover how these three tenets are as relevant in education today as they were eight hundred years ago. Martin Robinson has taught for twenty years in state schools in London, as a teacher, head of department, head of faculty, assistant head teacher, and AST. He's now an entrepreneur, company director, and playwright interested in developing creativity in schools. Education policy and practice is a battleground. Traditionalists argue for the teaching of a privileged type of hard knowledge and deride soft skills. Progressives deride learning about great works of the past, preferring soft 21st century skills such as creativity and critical thinking. By looking at the great thinkers from Ancient Greece to the present day and through interviews with opinion formers, policy makers and practitioners, including Alain de Botton, Daniel T. Willingham, Matthew Taylor and Elizabeth Truss MP, this book explores whether a contemporary trivium (Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric) can unite institutions, teachers, politicians and parents in the common pursuit of providing a great education for our children in the 21st century. "Martin Robinson sets out on a quest to discover the kind of education he wishes for his daughter and we all learn a great deal in the process. I love his writing: wise, well informed, provocative, thinking-out-loud. Robinson engages his reader from first to last. A terrific feat." Melissa Benn, writer and author of School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education "Trivium 21c is essential reading for all educators and observers of the seemingly endless public debate about education who wish to go beyond simplistic polarities and find a way to integrate and relate in a historical context seemingly contradictory approaches." Ian Bauckham, Head Teacher and President, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) 2013-14 "In schools today a focus on contemporary relevance too often trumps educational depth. Martin Robinson makes a compelling case that turning instead to the tradition of the liberal arts can open the minds of a new generation." Marc Sidwell, co-author of The School of Freedom, Managing Editor City A.M. "For the open-minded reader there is much to learn. I agree with Robinson that for students to acquire a sound blend of knowledge, questioning expertise, and communication skills (i.e. the trivium) is the basis of a great education." Dr Jacek Brant, Head of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (CPA), Senior Lecturer in Business Education, Institute of Education, University of London "Anybody interested in education, citizenship, or how we want our children to learn would find this a thought-provoking read." Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, the independent think tank


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Universities in the Middle Ages focused on three skills to develop the intellectual abilities of students, one - grammar, two - logic, and three - rhetoric. In this well-researched and fascinating work discover how these three tenets are as relevant in education today as they were eight hundred years ago. Martin Robinson has taught for twenty years in state schools in Londo Universities in the Middle Ages focused on three skills to develop the intellectual abilities of students, one - grammar, two - logic, and three - rhetoric. In this well-researched and fascinating work discover how these three tenets are as relevant in education today as they were eight hundred years ago. Martin Robinson has taught for twenty years in state schools in London, as a teacher, head of department, head of faculty, assistant head teacher, and AST. He's now an entrepreneur, company director, and playwright interested in developing creativity in schools. Education policy and practice is a battleground. Traditionalists argue for the teaching of a privileged type of hard knowledge and deride soft skills. Progressives deride learning about great works of the past, preferring soft 21st century skills such as creativity and critical thinking. By looking at the great thinkers from Ancient Greece to the present day and through interviews with opinion formers, policy makers and practitioners, including Alain de Botton, Daniel T. Willingham, Matthew Taylor and Elizabeth Truss MP, this book explores whether a contemporary trivium (Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric) can unite institutions, teachers, politicians and parents in the common pursuit of providing a great education for our children in the 21st century. "Martin Robinson sets out on a quest to discover the kind of education he wishes for his daughter and we all learn a great deal in the process. I love his writing: wise, well informed, provocative, thinking-out-loud. Robinson engages his reader from first to last. A terrific feat." Melissa Benn, writer and author of School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education "Trivium 21c is essential reading for all educators and observers of the seemingly endless public debate about education who wish to go beyond simplistic polarities and find a way to integrate and relate in a historical context seemingly contradictory approaches." Ian Bauckham, Head Teacher and President, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) 2013-14 "In schools today a focus on contemporary relevance too often trumps educational depth. Martin Robinson makes a compelling case that turning instead to the tradition of the liberal arts can open the minds of a new generation." Marc Sidwell, co-author of The School of Freedom, Managing Editor City A.M. "For the open-minded reader there is much to learn. I agree with Robinson that for students to acquire a sound blend of knowledge, questioning expertise, and communication skills (i.e. the trivium) is the basis of a great education." Dr Jacek Brant, Head of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (CPA), Senior Lecturer in Business Education, Institute of Education, University of London "Anybody interested in education, citizenship, or how we want our children to learn would find this a thought-provoking read." Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, the independent think tank

30 review for Trivium 21c: Preparing Young People for the Future with Lessons From the Past

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Robinson's central idea of 'progressive traditionalism' in education is excellent, but his exposition of that idea desperately needs focus, follow-through, and editing. Robinson's central idea of 'progressive traditionalism' in education is excellent, but his exposition of that idea desperately needs focus, follow-through, and editing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Layden

    I found this a highly useful book. Martin Robinson is a teacher himself and has excelled in his field. As is common with all great teachers he is driven to try and understand what works and what doesn't more than most. The birth of his daughter has greatly focused his interest in the role of education and it's practical application. This deep interest has led him on a highly productive quest. He has returned to the basic Trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric. His journey brings him from Aristol I found this a highly useful book. Martin Robinson is a teacher himself and has excelled in his field. As is common with all great teachers he is driven to try and understand what works and what doesn't more than most. The birth of his daughter has greatly focused his interest in the role of education and it's practical application. This deep interest has led him on a highly productive quest. He has returned to the basic Trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric. His journey brings him from Aristole, plato and Socrates through many of the great thinkers of classical times. It weaves a complex story of classical education and the evolution (devolution?) of education into something very understandable. His discussion of conservative and progressive attitudes to education is interesting, particularly through the prism of the Trivium. It really produces a highly efficient tool at evaluating how holistic any system of education is. It has allowed me to mentally organise many books and thinkers into a coherent flow of thought. The number of books which I have ordered on the basis of the books bibliography and thinkers mentioned will occupy me for months to come.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tonia

    Martin Robinson's Trivium 21c is the story of his quest to discover the foundations of classical education and whether it's tenets can be used in our present day school system. Through a variety of interviews with noted educators and his own study, we get a glimpse of his discoveries. His book is focused on the trivium - grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. While he does mention the quadrivium as well, this work focuses specifically on the trivium, and it's proponents and dissenters. He discusses ea Martin Robinson's Trivium 21c is the story of his quest to discover the foundations of classical education and whether it's tenets can be used in our present day school system. Through a variety of interviews with noted educators and his own study, we get a glimpse of his discoveries. His book is focused on the trivium - grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. While he does mention the quadrivium as well, this work focuses specifically on the trivium, and it's proponents and dissenters. He discusses each of these arts as well as shares an abundance of historical data about this mode of education. He focuses on the trivium as "a way of learning rather than just the what of learning." (Something that I wish the modern educational system would grasp in this age of standardized testing.) The most interesting aspect of the book is the included excerpts and quotes from the people that he interviews. I enjoyed reading the variety of opinions and ideas that are shared. Those who are interested in the technical and historical aspects of classical education would probably enjoy Trivium 21c.

  4. 5 out of 5

    I Know Foucault

    great introduction to the Trivium. I will need to go back and re-read to get a good grip on some of the ideas, but the book provided a fascinating framework and inspired me to read more about rhetoric. Now need to look at applying the insight to my own practice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Polynymous

    I will save prospective readers a great deal of time by summarising the central idea of the book. Mr. Robinson uses the trivium as branding (his "Trivium 21c"TM) for a conceptual "mantra" by which all lessons and subjects should be structured - and he simply means a lesson should be staged in order: teacher imparts knowledge, class debates knowledge, students communicate opinions (by essay, performance); in short, grammar, logic/dialectic, rhetoric. This may be a rather sensible approach to educa I will save prospective readers a great deal of time by summarising the central idea of the book. Mr. Robinson uses the trivium as branding (his "Trivium 21c"TM) for a conceptual "mantra" by which all lessons and subjects should be structured - and he simply means a lesson should be staged in order: teacher imparts knowledge, class debates knowledge, students communicate opinions (by essay, performance); in short, grammar, logic/dialectic, rhetoric. This may be a rather sensible approach to education, but it is not a novel approach. And yet the author repeatedly insists that it is his idea, and attempts to convince the reader he is in new and contentious waters. Given that there is no need to spend the majority of the book arguing for such a basic concept against imagined and/or historical opposition, it is frustrating there are no ideas for practical implementation of Trivium 21cTM save for a few tables in the concluding chapter. Instead we get sententious proclamations: education should be this, X should be that, etc. As another reviewer noted, the best parts are the sections where MR is not presenting his own ideas (which he struggles to do), but is quoting other, more intelligent and eloquent people at length. Skip to chapters 12 and 13 for this. Chapter 14 is perhaps also worth a squiz. The rest of the book is quite unreadable. MR talks about himself a lot. The trivium as a vehicle for education in the Medieval period only gets a brief description in Ch 7. There are far too many uninteresting rhetorical questions which serve to frame a rather boring and confused look at the history and philosophy of the component parts of the trivium, which is all dumbed down and then strained through a trad. vs. prog. colander. Part of the conceit is that the questions are presented as a joint exercise - 'perhaps the reader is wondering this with me (they aren't)' - and then the author proceeds give his take. Many of these rhetorical questions are incredibly stupid. For example, "Do I want my daughter to believe in the certainty that Father Christmas exists, or should she entertain the possibility that he might not?" Note: by this he means that traditional, conservative teaching [= grammar] is the former (made to seem ridiculous by teaching Father Christmas), whereas progressive educational methods [=dialectic] would teach her skepticism (which of course is a good thing re Father Christmas I guess). Naturally this is absurd, but this dichotomy pervades the work. Another extension of this is that he repeatedly asks whether students should "passively absorb knowledge" or be "rebellious" critics of knowledge; but he means they should be critics without learning/knowing anything first. More nonsense: "Is the educated person [one] who knows everything and passes all their exams... [or] the person who professes to know nothing but asks awkward questions?" This is of course all pointless bloviating, as MR ultimately reaches the conclusion that everyone already knew. The Father Christmas thing is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Martin clearly wants a lot of what he understands as traditional education for his daughter (who btw features as a point for directing Martin's desires re: education), but can't for some reason say this (because he is a Marxist and atheist or something) and so wastes a lot of time skirting around his conflicted desire, dismissing those whom he characterises as traditionalists as oppressive, slave-owners, dead white men etc. He does a hell of a lot of tail-chasing to rationalise his "progressive traditionalism". Perhaps reflecting the author's own failed education (as he admits), is his inability to write coherently and persuasively. Ideas often peter out after 2-3 paragraphs, and another subsection begins under some heading which often has no link to what comes before or after it. This disjointed exposition together with the insipid simplicity of the content is just not good enough. I could go on. In short: not good enough. This is a silly little book. Skip it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Seán Mchugh

    Without a doubt there is a fundamentally very simple message in this book, which made me wonder at the start how the author could justify making it 3 cm thick? And while there is quite a bit of repetition, the commitment was well worth the investment of time and I would regard it as an essential read for anyone who wants to educate with any success in this the 21st-century. We find ourselves stuck between a pendulum swing between progressive and liberal ideas about education, and it’s great to c Without a doubt there is a fundamentally very simple message in this book, which made me wonder at the start how the author could justify making it 3 cm thick? And while there is quite a bit of repetition, the commitment was well worth the investment of time and I would regard it as an essential read for anyone who wants to educate with any success in this the 21st-century. We find ourselves stuck between a pendulum swing between progressive and liberal ideas about education, and it’s great to come across a book like this that makes a realistic and practical attempt to bridge those extremes with the best of both; the point of which can best be summed up with the author’s own words towards the end of the book: Encore “The tension between traditional and progressive educationalists can be resolved. The future of education can be a reinvigorated trivium, it is, as we have seen, infinitely adaptable, for the 21st century, indeed for any century. The trivium can satisfy the cries from across the political divide: traditionalists profess the need for high standards and the importance of knowledge as vital components of a good education with the teacher as ‘sage on the stage’. Progressives have a desire to foster critical thinking skills, soft skills like creativity, empathy, and teamwork, vocational skills and with the teacher as ‘guide on the side’. Both these approaches are made possible if schools adopt a trivium for the 21st century and encompass both the traditional and the progressive in their ethos and pedagogy.” (p 246)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    A well thought-out examination of the Trivium and history of educational theory in the West Robinson is a British drama teacher with a daughter whose education concerns him, so he delves into the history of Western education, educational theory, and philosophy - particularly the Trivium that was long the cornerstone of Western education - and builds up to a proposal of a new vision of the Trivium-based education for the 21st century. It is an extremely thorough and we'll thought-out examination. A well thought-out examination of the Trivium and history of educational theory in the West Robinson is a British drama teacher with a daughter whose education concerns him, so he delves into the history of Western education, educational theory, and philosophy - particularly the Trivium that was long the cornerstone of Western education - and builds up to a proposal of a new vision of the Trivium-based education for the 21st century. It is an extremely thorough and we'll thought-out examination. As an American, I could not always relate to concepts specific to British education (laws and trends in the UK), but it is a fantastic book I highly recommend for anyone with an interest in pedagogy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Lovell

    A framework for educators Martin has helped me to see what I'm good at and what I need to improve on. He's helped me to recognise the depths of poverty and the heights of flourishing. Most importantly, he's helped me to better understand how many of the educational ideas and techniques that I've encountered over the years can fit together and be productively combined. Through this book, he has helped me to become a better educator. A framework for educators Martin has helped me to see what I'm good at and what I need to improve on. He's helped me to recognise the depths of poverty and the heights of flourishing. Most importantly, he's helped me to better understand how many of the educational ideas and techniques that I've encountered over the years can fit together and be productively combined. Through this book, he has helped me to become a better educator.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I enjoyed this, it was useful in my current research into the trivium for my own teaching practice. The book is thorough although I would have liked it to have touched on some of the conspiracies linked to the trivium. In all, very good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zeba Clarke

    Very worthwhile exploration of what schools should be doing, whether there is a canon, how to create a balanced approach to education and how students should emerge from full time education. Highly recommended - very balanced, thoughtful and engaging.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Beckett

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in education, philosophy, classicism and teaching. Every page is entertaining, informative and thought-provoking, and has helped shaped my own pedagogy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    really interesting ideas about education and the tradition/innovation conflict, but probably didn't need a book-length explanation really interesting ideas about education and the tradition/innovation conflict, but probably didn't need a book-length explanation

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wouter

    Thought changing material. Gives guidance and meaning for education at the start of the 21st century. Might be tough at points to get through, but it is profound and practical.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Really interesting attempt to bridge the traditionalist-progressive divide in education by going back to not just underlying values but also a look at how education has changed. Written in a very discursive way , it could have perhaps benefitted from some editing. However an immensely valuable book and one I think I will need to read again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian Mcleish

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rohan Nicholls

  17. 5 out of 5

    david allan pullar

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Toby

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jane Kilpatrick

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jack Oughton

  23. 4 out of 5

    Trystero

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jay Heinrichs

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tarjinder Gill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Iain

  27. 5 out of 5

    Neely O'Hara

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric Kalenze

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

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