Much of the current and modern renaissance of classical education is owed to the Dorothy Sayers essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” in which she describes the three stages of the trivium—grammar, logic and rhetoric—as tools by which a student can then analyze and master every other subject. Sayers’ perspectives were popularized in the United States by the 1991 publication Douglas J. Wilson’s “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning,” which inspired establishment of a number of classical Christian primary and secondary schools, and even a classical Christian college in 1994 (New Saint Andrews College), that organized as the Association of Classical and Christian Schools in 1997.

The Lost Tools of Learning

Dorothy Sayer’s essay The Lost Tools of Learning was republished in 1973 by National Review. That was the point when the modern classical education movement really began. So what are the Lost Tools?

Sayers wrote this paper for a speech she gave at Oxford University in 1947. Sayer’s very influential essay has been used by many schools as one of the foundation stones for the modern classical education movement. The republishing of her speech has catalyzed the revival of the Trivium as a model and method of education.

The Trivium includes subjects organized into stages of cognitive development: grammar, logic and rhetoric. These are the tools to enable the analysis and mastery of every other subject. The Trivium is not a modern approach to education, it was developed in the Middle Ages, but based on ancient Greek and Roman education.

We urge you to download the entire essay here and read it.