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Course Guide (Rhetoric School)

An Academic Overview

For 2,500 years, education in the West has prepared students to make a difference in the world. At Trinity, our goal is to equip students for purposeful lives characterized by virtue, wisdom, purpose, and courage. The last six years of our program, the Rhetoric School, intensifies this effort in the lives of each student. Upon graduation, our students will step into the world of adult responsibility, and we want them to be ready as thoughtful, active Christians who can make the most of the educational opportunities that follow.

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Trinity’s academic program distinguishes itself through its deliberate integration of content and an ongoing effort to enable students to synthesize the vast body of knowledge that they have accumulated. In addition to the reinforcement of earlier studies through the chronological organization of this content area, students develop conversational and oratorical skills through Socratic dialogue and careful instruction in persuasive public discourse.

The educations of the greatest minds in our cultural history are emulated in the Rhetoric School, providing students with a truly “liberal” education—one which frees them for informed conversation, establishes a basis for convictions on matters of universal importance, and models the tremendous creativity produced by informed and disciplined minds throughout history.

Wherever students turn at Trinity, they receive reinforcement of the importance of pursuing and knowing truth, goodness, and beauty as the basis for what the ancients called “the good life.”

Classical schools traditionally draw attention to their emphasis on the humanities. The classical tradition is also the great scientific tradition. The monumental discoveries that launched the modern scientific age occurred in the studies and laboratories of classically educated men and women whose critical thinking skills and vast knowledge freed them to hypothesize creative solutions to age-old problems. Disciplined by their knowledge of Latin, mathematics and logic, great minds like Galileo, Da Vinci and Newton devised methods of inquiry, which not only satisfied their curiosity but also made it possible to organize the infinite mysteries of the natural world into disciplines like chemistry, physics and calculus. Each of these disciplines provides an explanation for, and a way to approach further investigation of the wonders of God’s creative handiwork. Advanced, modern sciences and mathematics are crucial to the education our students receive.

Because we are both Christians and historians, it is essential that students gain an accurate understanding of the relationship between classical ideas and the Christian gospel. Not only that, but we desire that the education students receive at Trinity informs and strengthens their personal faith in Christ. Students study the historical development of the Christian faith, as western civilization grew along with it, and they are able to describe the essential influences of Christian thinking on our western cultural identity. They learn about both the agreements and the disagreements that have existed among Christians over the centuries, and how those confessions and controversies have shaped their own faith traditions. Students also further their ability to analyze cultures and the characters and events that shape them through the prism of biblical thinking—a Christian worldview.

Our Christian convictions in the Rhetoric School are not just academic or intellectual. The faculty strives to introduce biblical principles of virtuous behavior and personal responsibility into every activity and every conversation with students. The Rhetoric School sets aside time for students to exercise their faith through ministry to others, obeying Jesus’ admonition to serve those whom he called “the least of these, my brothers.”

We also believe that influencing our society requires more than just knowledge and activism. The classical tradition emphasizes the mastery and use of language as a key component to shaping the thinking and the worldviews of those around us. The third step in the classical language arts is the study of rhetoric. Rhetoric applies the language-based tools of grammar and logic to persuasion. It emphasizes both written and oral communication as the chief means by which ideas enter into society and by which means, society can be led toward the greater good. Students in the Rhetoric School study this crucial discipline in theory and in practice. They employ rhetorical principles in every class, and demonstrate their rhetorical skill in a thesis presented in their senior year.

Updated August 2020