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
This is a charming book which is fun to read; it is contemplative and self-reflective and at the same time it is well-researched, informative and genuinely scholarly. What the book does very well is to unpick the tensions between educationalist progressives and traditionalists and it attempts to identify differences but also importantly to seek common ground. Indeed it is a historical tour de force examining the origins and development of the liberal arts from the early Greeks through Shakespearean times to the present day. What makes the book so readable is that it is a journey of self-reflection on what it means to be educated from the point of view of the author as a schoolboy, a teacher and then a parent seeking an appropriate school for his daughter. The early part of the book looks at his own schooling and frustrations that the author experiences. Learning appears to be chaotic and many pupils are apparently left to fail by not being equipped with the skills necessary to succeed at school. The book then traces his later employment and his experiences as a schoolteacher and how he changed the way he taught to make learning more meaningful and authentic for his pupils. His journey is one of becoming a teacher who adopts innovative approaches to teaching; teaching for meaning, values and deep learning. The argument of the book is for a Trivium of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric. The three elements of the trivium would be developed simultaneously, and once mastered it was expected that a student would have acquired the knowledge, the reasoning skills and the ability to communicate well that would stand them in good stead for a good life. What Robinson is asking for is the building blocks for thriving at school, the underpinning principles of learning that many teachers assume that pupils already possess but which many do not. I am not convinced that this book will unite traditionalists and progressives in a mutual quest of school improvement, but for the open minded reader there is much to learn. I agree with Robinson that students acquiring 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 & Assessment (CPA), Senior Lecturer in Business Education, Institute of Education, University of London
Part reflective autobiography, part educational manifesto, The Trivium in the 21st Century is both a richly erudite and engagingly relevant exploration of the purposes and philosophies underlying the enterprise of education. From Ancient Greece through to contemporary controversy, Robinson draws resonantly on his experience as a student and a teacher to demonstrate that the trivium , the triple way , of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, still lies at the heart of a good education , albeit in new forms. With refreshing realism, he recognises that teachers in their work in the classroom often transcend many of the political storms about education. Citing almost every contemporary protagonist from our own era, he advances an approach which he describes as progressive traditionalism . The Trivium in the 21st Century 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
From the Back Cover
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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.