I've really enjoyed seeing the connections between these three classical concepts. One thing I continue to keep before my mind is that although I love these educational concepts, I wasn't educated like this. So when I try to present the perfect classical education for my children and fail, I must offer myself grace because I'm still growing too.
The best way that I can serve my children is to propel them beyond the limits I have been constrained by, and the only way to do this is to learn as much as I can and share it with my children.
This brings me to hermeneutics. A hermeneutic is a particular method of interpretation and is typically used in the context of Bible study. The term comes from a Greek word meaning “translate” or “interpret.” The technical term actually comes from Aristotle, from whom we have learned many ideas about education. He says this about words:
“Words are symbols or signs of affections or impressions of the soul; written words are the signs of words spoken.”
This means that when we hear or read words, we must interpret them. We must find out what the speaker or author is expressing. What is his soul saying? What do these words indicate about what he desires or loves?
In Bible study, we read the words of many different authors with the knowledge that there is one Primary Author. What is His soul saying? What do His words indicate about what He desires or loves? We must interpret this. Sometimes God is very clear. Sometimes His words are less direct.
Your hermeneutic (your method of interpretation) will define how you think about everything. Small task, right? Hermeneutics, in fact, is why there is one Bible, and many denominations.
We must have a valid and tested method for interpreting God’s Word. I believe a proper hermeneutic involves several things:
With our Bible open and the help of the Holy Spirit (our great Teacher), these three steps must be taken one at a time and in this order for a child of God to really see the big idea and how to apply it.
HERMENEUTICS, MIMESIS, AND THE TRIVIUM
Now look at all three. Generally, the first represents stages in a process, and the other two represent the process or method itself:
The Trivium: Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric
Mimetic Process: Present, Compare, Express, Apply
Hermeneutic: Observation, Interpretation, Application
I think there is an inherent reason each of these are so similar: It’s how we’re wired. With each one, it must be in the order listed above, lest students be perpetually confused.
So I’ll attempt to put all three together. As teachers, we:
1) Present types that students can Observe and catch the Grammar of a given idea.
2) Help students Compare the types in Dialectic discussions, leading them to Express an Interpretation of what that idea is.
3) Encourage students to Apply the idea beautifully and truthfully with the mastery of a sincere and compassionate Rhetorician.
Again, to teach classically is to teach with the soul in mind. As we teach little souls, we remember that each one is growing in maturity - both physically and spiritually. This type of teaching has virtue in mind.