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Developing the tools for continued learning

Roundtable: The educators respond

Posted: March 4, 2014 7:05 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2014 7:05 p.m.

Liz Caddow, founder and head of school

Wally Caddow,

Trinity Classical Academy

Center for Applied Competitive Technologies director


During the Roundtable discussion on education, local employers agreed they’d like to see stronger “soft skills” in young graduates.

Briefly define a classical education.

College instruction changed years ago because of an influx of student enrollment. Years ago, it was taught in small groups through discussion.

Liberal arts used to be the backbone of education because the point is to liberate students from the teachers and the schools. They should be able to think and express themselves on their own – that is the underlying theme of a classical education.

We want kids the kids to learn how to express themselves before they leave here. We always say they need to read, think, write and speak well – that is embedded in the entire curriculum. They need to be prepared to communicate after high school.

How does a classical education help develop soft skills?

In most classrooms, the model is to lecture, take notes and take a test. Our model is completely different. In elementary school, students learn grammar and the basics. In the middle school grades, they learn logic. In high school, they learn rhetoric, the art of persuasion and fine-tuned skills of expression.

We teach everything through Socratic dialogue. High school classes consist of discussion groups. They learn how to listen to others’ ideas and express their own. It’s the same kind of discussion that goes on in board rooms and congressional hearings across the country.

In a lecture setting, students retain about 10 to 15 percent of the material. In a Socratic dialogue setting, the kids are simulating real life situations and working through the material. They retain 70 to 80 percent of the material because they’re active participants, as opposed to sitting and absorbing information. They think logically, and then they express themselves rhetorically.

Students need to have the basic tools to learn more once they’re on the job. Industries are realizing this more and more. We’re creating lovers of learning.


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