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
After 20 years working in London in state schools as teacher, head of department, AST, senior leader and QCA associate with a focus on creativity Martin Robinson is now a parent, writer and consultant with an interest in how the arts should influence education.
|Publisher:||Crown House Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Martin had taught for 20 years in State schools in London, as a teacher, head of department, head of faculty, assistant head teacher and AST. Now an entrepreneur, company director and Playwright and interested in developing creativity in schools.
Ian Gilbert is one of the UK's leading educational innovators, speakers and writers with twenty years experience working with young people and educationalists around the world. He is the founder of Independent Thinking Ltd, the editor of the Independent Thinking Press and the author of a number of titles including Why Do I Need a Teacher When I've Got Google?. His book The Little Book of Thunks won the first education book award from the Society of Authors for 'an outstanding example of traditionally published non-fiction that enhances teaching and learning'.
Read an Excerpt
Foreword by Ian Gilbert
It’s difficult to read the news these days without seeing some story on education being played out in governments, think tanks, conference rooms,
staff rooms, classrooms or even streets somewhere in the world. And
rightly so. Education is both a mirror of society as it is now and also, crucially,a reflection of what that society will become. What we do with the
minds of our young people today will be come back to help us or haunt
us for decades to come.
Or, in the words of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher on board the ill-fated
Challenger space shuttle expedition in 1986: ‘I touch the future I teach’.
Often, though, when education is being talked about there is no agreement
as to what, specifically, is actually being discussed. For example, when
teachers talk about education, they are more often than not referring to a
process in which they teach and children learn. All being well. When the politicians and strategists talk about it, however, they are often referring to
the system within which that teaching and learning process operates. Parents may mean something else altogether, one perhaps more related to discipline, employment chances, and life skills. And the young people themselves? Well, often they never get the chance to voice an opinion about just what exactly they are spending the major portion of their first 20 years or so doing.
Yet beyond the world of processes and systems or maybe underpinning them there is another debate too, one that goes on often unnoticed and has vexed some of the greatest minds for millennia. It is the question of what we want schools and schooling to achieve for our children, of what having ‘an education’ entails, of what ‘being educated’ actually means?
It is a debate over which the ancient Greeks battled and that still fills the
letters pages of national newspapers and the comments sections on news websites and blogs today. And it is a debate that is very much at the heart of this fascinating and important book.
Through a combination of extensive historical research, face-to-face dialogue
with some of the main protagonists currently in the debate and his personal experience both as a teacher and as a parent, desperately trying to find the right sort of education for his daughter, Martin weaves a complex and compelling story. It is a journey that stretches back to the ancient Greeks and the ‘fork in the road’ they encountered that evolved into the Trivium of the medieval world and that rages in the 21st century educational diaspora of academies, charter schools, free schools, national and common core curricula, standardized testing and assessment, and practically every aspect of educational policy and discussion worldwide.
If you are involved in education in any fashion from teacher to parent to
governor to educator to inspector to policy maker and you have an opinion
about what ‘an educated person’ should look like, then you have joined the debate. What’s more, that opinion means you will have taken sides, whether you know it or not. This book will help you make the right choices for the right reasons and, who knows, may even help us create the sort of consensus that will bring all sides together. In doing so, we can all help forge an education system and an education process that genuinely does what we want it to do bring the very best out of, and put the very best into, every child.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Ian Gilbert
Introduction: An Unexamined Life is not Worth Living
1 A Trivial Pursuit?
2 The Trivium
3 Our Dramatis Personae: The Grammarians, the Dialecticians, and
4 The Liberal Arts: A New Curriculum is Born
5 The Rise of the Rational: The Fall of the Trivial?
6 Trivium: A Clash of Cultures
7 A Crack in Everything: The Imperfect Arts
8 Grammar: From Rules of Language to Cultural Capital
9 Dialectic: Logic, Dialectic, and Logos
10 Rhetoric: Communication, Citizenship, and Community
11 We Have a Montaigne to Climb
12 The Professors
13 The Grammarians vs the Dialecticians
14 The Contemporary Trivium
Postscript: A Bit of Trivia
Bibliography and Reading List