Beauty in the Word: A Brief Review

Apr 10, 2013

Stratford Caldecott’s 160-page new book Beauty in the Word has proven difficult for me to finish, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. 

Serving as a sequel to his 2009 work Beauty for Truth’s Sake, in which Caldecott offered a study of the mathematical arts of the Quadrivium and called for an education that reintegrates the arts and sciences, Beauty in the Word examines the Trivium – the foundational arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric – and calls for their application in ways that recognize and honor the human nature of both child and teacher.

Far from a simple (and all-too-familiar) regurgitation of the Trivium as three “stages” of learning that corresponds to natural child development, Caldecott’s work examines the Trivium in more human terms - as Remembering, Thinking, and Communicating. 

He argues that “education is not primarily about the acquisition of information.  It is not even about the acquisition of ‘skills’ in the conventional sense, to equip us for particular roles in society.  It is about how we become more human (and therefore more free, in the truest sense of that word)…Too often we have not been educating our humanity.  We have been educating ourselves for doing rather than for being.”  His exploration of the Trivium in that light is truly inspiring.

Beauty in the Word is an inspiring, challenging and even convicting book.  Perhaps that’s why it has proven so difficult to finish.  Stratford Caldecott has done us a great service.  It’s my hope that Beauty in the Word will be widely, but slowly, read by many others.

Brian  Phillips

Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is the Director of CiRCE Consulting & the Headmaster of the CiRCE Academy.  He also serves as a pastor in Concord, NC, where he lives with his wife and their four children.

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