Outcome-Based Education versus Trivium-Based Education

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Part I


On December 11, 361 Julian became Emperor of Rome. He immediately set out to restore the worship of the ancient gods. February 4, 362 he proclaimed religious “toleration,” and moved to reopen the pagan temples. He had learned that a direct attack upon Christianity would only increase its following. So he publicly disclaimed any desire to injure the Christians. Instead, He mounted an administrative persecution to humiliate Christians without directly attacking them. He effectively closed the courts to Christians by requiring everyone to burn incense before speaking in court. Anyone who refused to burn incense was declared “godless” and deprived of citizenship. He ordained that Christians thereafter were to be referred to only as “Galileans.” His final attack on Christianity was in three stages:

  1. May 12, 362 he confirmed upon schoolteachers all special privileges which were formerly granted to Christians.
  2. June 17 he decreed all schoolteachers in the empire must be examined, endorsed and sanctioned by the emperor. His purpose was to use the educational system as a propaganda weapon for the formation of public opinion.
  3. Immediately thereafter he declared Christians to be insane and demented because of their contradictory views and practices; and refused to allow them to be teachers. His aim was to turn all schools into centers of pagan religion. The effect was to “forbid masters of rhetoric and grammar to instruct Christians.” Julian “considered such studies conducive to the acquisition of argumentative and persuasive power.” Augustine wrote, “Was he [Julian] not a persecutor that forbade the Christians to be taught the liberal arts [Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric]?” (City of God 18:52)

Julian died June 26, 363. His successor, Valentinian, rescinded his edicts.


The parallels between Julian’s actions and modern socialized education are startling. The teaching of pagan practices such as perverted-sexuality and aborticide are protected in socialized schools under a cloak of “toleration.” Socialized schools require teachers to be certified by the state, effectively closing the schools to Christians who cannot “burn incense” to the methods, principles, values and goals required for certification. Christians are now referred to disparagingly as “right-wing fundamentalist fanatics.” They have been subject to a humiliating administrative persecution for many years, though never directly attacked.

We may now be entering on the final attack. Federal legislation essentially requires that all school teachers in the socialized schools be examined, endorsed and sanctioned by the Federal Department of Education. Holding to moral absolutes is declared by some to be insane and demented and absolutes are not allowed to be taught. Socialized schools are effectively turned into centers of amoral pagan religion. Outcome-Based Education (O. B. E.) is mandated in all socialized schools. Federal legislation was formulated to forbid the teaching of the Trivium, declaring it to be a “disproven theory.”

“The Congress declares it to be the policy of the United States that…this title builds upon what has been learned: [including]…The disproven theory that children must first learn basic skills [=GRAMMAR & LOGIC] before engaging in more complex tasks [=RHETORIC] continues to dominate strategies for classroom instruction, resulting in emphasis on repetitive drill and practice…. A school wide program shall include the following components: …help provide an enriched and accelerated curriculum [=RHETORIC BASED] rather than remedial drill and practice [GRAMMAR & LOGIC].”

Such things as learning phonics and the math facts would be federally outlawed. The Trivium, which has worked for millennia, is now considered a “disproven theory” while O. B. E., which has not worked anywhere it has ever been tried, is now the officially sanctioned method.

O. B. E. is “outcome-skills based.” It teaches “rhetoric” level skills without teaching the basic “grammar” and “logic” level skills. Here is an illustration:

Let’s say we’re going to teach you to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano by the O. B. E. method. We’ll call this the “whole music” method. We’ll sit you down at the piano and begin with the Moonlight Sonata. We’ll tell you where to put your fingers, and we’ll take you rotely through the piece. We may break the piece up into smaller and simpler portions at first, and we may introduce some “look-play” flash cards along the way. Eventually you will learn to play the Moonlight Sonata. It is likely you’ll get your “certificate of mastery” for the Moonlight Sonata sooner than if we had taught you by the Trivium method.

What if you want to learn another song? That’s where the difference in methods becomes noticeable. You’ll have to come to us, and we’ll have to teach you. We are the trainers, and you are the trainee. We are the masters, and you are the slave. You will be dependent upon us for everything you learn.

Of course there will be a few students who will “learn by ear” and who will “catch on” to the technique after a few songs. (Just as there are a few who figure out much of the English phonetic codes, and spelling and grammar rules on their own.) But most students will not figure it out on their own.

That is the Outcome Based Education method: You get good looking results faster, but they are shallow, and they don’t last long. But most important of all, they create intellectual cripples who depend upon the educational system. Why? Because you never master the basics! You only master the outcomes! Creativity is tremendously stifled, because the student is never given the tools with which to create.

Now let’s say we’re going to teach you by the Trivium method. First we’ll teach you how to read music. (That’s the knowledge or grammar level.) Then we’ll teach you the proper fingering. (That’s the understanding or logic level.) Then we’ll teach you the proper technique and expression. (That’s the wisdom or rhetoric level.) After you’ve mastered these three levels, then we can begin to work on the Moonlight Sonata. Using the Trivium method will take you longer to master the piece than the O. B. E method. But the long term benefits are significantly different. Let’s say you want to learn another song? You can teach yourself! In fact, you can write your own music! You don’t need us anymore! You’ve mastered those arts which liberate you from your teacher so that you can learn on your own. That’s why Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric are called “the Liberal Arts.”

It’s the same thing with teaching reading and writing. If you’re taught by the “look-say” or “whole language” method, you’re taught the “outcome” you memorize the “look” of the words, but you never learn the basics. First you must master the alphabet and phonetic code. (That’s the Knowledge or Grammar level.) Then you must master the spelling and grammar rules. (That’s the Understanding or Logic level.) Then you must master style and composition. (That’s the Wisdom or Rhetoric level.) Then you end with “whole language” you don’t begin with “whole language.”

O. B. E. proponents have now declared mathematics to be a group sport. Students solve their math problems as a group. We call this “conversational math.” But if you solve math problems as a group you will foster dependency upon others, and you won’t learn to do math on your own. Math is an individual sport.

The Federal government has decided it knows more about us than our Creator. We will now be recreated into the image invented by Politically Correct Outcome Based Government Socialist Educators.

Under O. B. E the academic levels of public education will rapidly deteriorate. Modern education has been failing on many fronts, but we seem now to be on the threshold of its complete collapse, along with the collapse of our culture, because fundamental language skills are no longer being mastered. Failure to master fundamental language skills will cripple a student in every other subject of study.

Where are you, Valentinian, when we need you?


In 1643 the first college entrance requirements in this country were established by Harvard College as follows: “When any scholar is able to understand Tully, or such like classical author Extempore, and make and speake true Latine in verse and prose, suo ut aiunt Marte; and decline perfectly the Paradigms of Nounes and Verbes in the Greek tongue; let him then and not before be capable of admission into the colledge.” Latin had to be mastered before entrance, because many of the texts were written in Latin.

The following were the Graduation Requirements at Harvard:

Logic Ethics Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy
Physicks Politics History
Disputes Disputes Nature of Plants
Greek Greek Greek composition
Hebrew Hebrew Hebrew
Rhetoric Rhetoric Rhetoric

Today, 95% of colleges and universities teach at the junior high school level or below. Never fear, we are now embarking upon a great social experiment to further dumb down our educational standards. O. B. E. is purported to be a great revolution in education. It is a revolution only in the sense that it causes formerly gradual trends in education to suddenly crystallize and precipitate. Let’s look at some of those trends:

1.Modern education majors on the minors.

Modern education pursues Trivia, not Trivium. It views the task of education like that of filling a bucket. It scopes and sequences everything that can be learned into something like a twelve volume encyclopedia with 180 pages per volume, one page for each day of the twelve school years. First Grade is Volume I. The first day of school covers the contents of page 1 of Volume I. The second day covers page 2, and so on. Every child must be on approximately the same page at the same time, or else he must have some kind of learning dysfunction.

In other words, modern education would have you memorize an encyclopedia of information, and then promptly forget it. It teaches a multitude of subjects, but it does not teach the learning skills of comprehending, reasoning and communicating (the Trivium) by which one can master any subject on his own. Many persons never learn how to properly read, write, think or communicate in the public school classroom. If they do learn, they learn it outside of the system.

The Trivium does the opposite. It fosters independency. It focuses upon learning the skills of the Trivium, practicing with the Trivium on various “subjects.” The modern student learns many things, except how to learn; while the classical student learns how to learn, then applies the skill of learning to many things. He who masters the Trivium can teach himself anything.

2.Modern Education interrupts the natural development.

Children are naturally curious. They are naturally learners. Children teach themselves to speak a highly complex language in their first few years. (English!) It takes a lot of modern education to stifle a young child’s natural ability to learn.

Whatever a child learns, he learns by the Trivium progression, no matter what else one may try to impose upon the learning process. If you interrupt the natural Trivium progression of learning, you will create a learning dysfunction. Modern education interrupts the natural progression and creates learning dysfunctions.

To begin with, formal education begins too early. When you institutionalize a young child, you train him to look to his peers, and to his teachers, and to the government for authority and guidance, but not to his parents. This is anti-family social training. The child is socialized for the state and away from his parents.

The reasoning (logic) skills of young children are not highly developed, and their creative (rhetoric) skills are still at an elementary level. Young children are at the knowledge level, they learn facts and rules the easiest. They need more training than they need teaching. But in modern education, small children learn a limited number of useful facts, and they are not trained in self-discipline. The time to lay the foundation for future education is squandered. Instead, the young child’s senses are over stimulated with all kinds of things which he either does not need to know, or he is too young to handle. Some of the sex-education material which young children are exposed to in government schools constitutes child abuse of the worst sort. It destroys the child’s innocence and violates the child’s purity.

Early teens are at the understanding level, they are entering the logic or reasoning stage. They need to develop the critical apparatus for thinking. But in modern education, the logic state is overridden by means of programmed thinking, where certain understandings are imposed upon the child’s thinking without factual knowledge, and without training the mind to correctly reason it out. We are referring to the brainwashing they receive in politically correct ideology. The teaching of evolution is another good example. Evolution is mythology disguised as science. (Isn’t it amazing what intelligent persons can be led to believe?) Children are not taught to logically evaluate the presuppositions behind politically correct teaching and evolutionary teaching. Instead, these things are treated as if they were direct revelations handed down by the P.C. gods.

Students are frustrated, bored and burned out because they are not allowed to think. They’re not only not trained to think, they are actually trained not to think. Ask a product of modern education to review something, say a movie. They can tell you their sensory perceptions (the grammar level) but that’s about as far as they can go. Ask them for some analysis of the plot, or whether the movie was trying to make some point or teach some lesson, and their mind jams. (How many discerned that the “Star War” movies were sermons in New Age theology?) They do not possess the critical apparatus with which to intellectually evaluate what their senses are receiving. They cannot discern between good and evil; only between pleasant and unpleasant sensory perceptions. No wonder they are so easily swayed by propaganda. Their mental development remains at a childish level and never properly matures.

When children are taught so-called “thinking skills,” they are actually taught “unthinking skills.” That is, they are programmed to think a certain way. The programming, though it may involve some superficial reasoning, is not logic based, it is emotionally based. You must understand that unless you reason from Scripture, all of your reasoning is eventually going to break down into logical contradictions. For example, children may be programmed to “say no to drugs” for many reasons. But because their motivation for not taking drugs is not based upon clear reasoning from moral absolutes, they are actually being prepared to “say yes to drugs” under the right mixture of circumstances. By training children to “say no to drugs” for the wrong reasons, they are actually laying a faulty foundation which will crumble under certain emotional pressures. Think about it: Automobile Mechanics 101 leads to students trying auto repair on their own. Home Cooking 101 leads to students trying to cook on their own. Now you fill in the blank. Drug Ed. 101 leads to _______. Sex Ed 101 leads to_______. Suicide Ed 101 leads to _______. Older teens are entering the wisdom level, learning to creatively and effectively express things and put them into practice. However, modern educators have been encouraging self-expression from children since they were in pre-school, but without training them in self-discipline. After a dozen years of mental abuse from educators, many of these older teens simply express their frustrations in undisciplined and destructive ways.

In short, the dysfunctional mechanism of modern education teaches little children useless and perverted facts, bores early teens with programmed thinking, and encourages later teens to express their frustrations with the whole system. They run every child through their mental meat processing plant, and unless something interrupts the process, they all come out the same size baloney!

By contrast, classical education conforms to the very nature of mental development. Education in any subject naturally develops through these three stages: 1)mastery of the facts (grammar); 2)mastery of their relationships (logic); 3)mastery of their uses and applications (rhetoric). (The Trivium!)

3.Modern Education is Regressive, not Progressive.

If you train a person in those disciplines which equip him for self-education, you will open all doors for him. The first and the greatest masters of any discipline of learning were all self-taught. There was no one else ahead of them to teach them! Trivium-based education is the only truly “progressive” education: first, because it follows the natural progression of learning; and second, because it guarantees progress. Self-teaching students excel beyond the limits of their mentors because they have been given the tools with which to go forward on their own.

Those things which are distinctive of “modern education,” at their best, only inhibit the normal learning process.


Outcome Based Education is not a revolution in education. It is a great climactic and confrontational battle in a revolution which has been going on for decades. We have had wave after wave of educational experiments in government schools, followed by wave after wave of academic decline. But instead of going back to the traditional Trivium method of classical education which has worked for six millennia, the government introduces a new and bolder experiment ostensibly to resolve the problems its earlier experiments have created, without ever admitting their experiments have actually created the problems. But the results of each new cure always turn out to be worse than the results of the last cure.

Part II

Opposita juxta se posita magis elucescunt.

Opposites placed by one another are more apparent.

We will not attempt to duplicate the many excellent exposures of O. B. E.. Instead, we wish to present an analysis of O. B. E. in contrast with the Trivium, examining first its principles, then its values, and finally its goals.


A principle is a cause, source or origin of anything, or the foundation or basis upon which a thing is supported. If a thing is built upon a solid foundation, or comes from a reliable source, it may be expected to stand. If not, it will fall.

The principle upon which Trivium Based Education is based is the simple progression: first comes knowledge, then comes understanding, and last comes wisdom. The Scriptures teach this progression, and nature, of course, agrees. Indeed the principle is so entwined in the warp and woof of things that the three-step pattern continually appears. The ancients taught the formal academics of 1)Grammar 2)Logic and 3)Rhetoric. Music is composed of 1)notes 2)arranged 3)to be performed. The computer must have 1)input 2)processing and 3)output. The study of a subject begins with the facts, then the theory, then the practical uses and applications. Our offspring develop in three stages: 1)childhood, spent absorbing facts and rules, 2)youth and early teens, spent investigating the reasons for things, and 3)older teens through adult, spent expressing and applying the things they have learned and are learning.

The driving principle of O. B. E. is the “outcomes.” O. B. E. planners have designed the process to determine the product. (Psycho-social predestination.) Technically speaking, this would not necessarily exclude using the Trivium. It is only when you realize that O. B. E. outcomes are largely non-academic, and that in fact they do not want the population to truly know the facts, honestly analyze the theory, and effectively apply the results, only when you realize these things do you understand that the Trivium is in fact anathema to O.B.E. advocates. They speak of “the disproven theory that children must first learn basic skills before engaging in more complex tasks.” They are, in fact, correct, from their perspective. People can learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” without learning to read music or to finger the piano keys properly. And there are a few who can figure out on their own the musical notation and the fingering after learning to play the “Moonlight Sonata.” Our society has been getting along fine for nearly a century manipulating accounting units and calling them dollars without understanding even the first principles of modern money mechanics. For decades children have been learning to read by “look-say” instead of phonics. The O.B.E advocates are quite right, children do not have to first learn basic skills before engaging in more complex tasks. But they ought to! A population which does not know the basics, and has no true thinking skills, but only knows how to perform practical tasks, such a population is more easily manipulated because they are slaves to their trainers.

According to O.B.E. advocates, there is too much emphasis upon traditional academic skills. They want to reduce the amount of time spent on such things as reading, writing and arithmetic by 40% to 50%. [The sad fact is this: they might be able to teach students these skills in less time, if only they would adopt effective teaching methods. Unfortunately they intend to go the opposite direction, moving from “look-say” reading to the next level of incompetence: “whole language.”]


A value is what you consider of positive worth, importance or significance. Education cannot be neutral. Whatever an educator values to teach, he teaches as having value. Whatever he does not value to teach, he teaches as having no value. To deny that you have an agenda of values in education is to deny that you educate.

Trivium-Based Education places value on knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It values teaching the student the skills necessary to learn on his own. It values making a person intellectually independent and self-reliant.

O.B.E. disdains the teaching of basic skills such as phonics and math facts. O.B.E. does, however, teach what it calls “critical thinking skills.” Unfortunately, this should not be confused with legitimate “critical thinking” or “logic.” The O.B.E. program teaches children to make subjective choices from among options which the program presents. The program systematically omits Christian choices. The child is programmed in an amoral mode of thinking, a mode of thinking which recognizes no absolute standards. The child determines for himself what is right and wrong. (O.B.E constructs a tree of knowledge of good and evil, and invites the children to choose from its fruits.) What they call “critical thinking skills” is actually “selected thinking profiles.” O.B.E. does not value making a person intellectually independent and self-reliant.

Here is an assessment question actually in use.

“There is a secret club at school called the Midnight Artists. They go out late at night and paint funny sayings and pictures on buildings. A student is asked to join the club. In this situation, I would join the club when I knew:

(a)my best friend asked me to join

(b)the most popular students were in the club

(c)my parents would ground me if they found out I joined”

The student must agree with the “correct” answers, which are (a) and (b), and disagree with the “incorrect” answer, which is (c). In other words, the student is to yield to pressures of friendship and popularity, and is not to consider the values of his parents important, but only their punishment. There should be a fourth answer (d)I would never join the club because graffiti destroys the property of others, which is stealing, which is contrary to God’s law which should be reflected in every man’s conscience. And a fifth answer (e) I would inform competent authorities of the names of the vandals. The assessment does not allow the student the choice of not joining the club.

O.B.E. does not focus upon academic achievement. Instead, it focuses upon “affective” learning. Out of 415 items which a typical O.B.E. program assesses, only 30 are academic. That’s only 7%. The rest of the assessment is for things like “locus of control” and “thresholds of behavior” and “scale of adjustment.” Your “locus of control” measures how easily you agree with your peers and go with the flow. “Thresholds of behavior” measures what it takes to get you to avoid punishment and go with the group. “Scale of adjustment” measures how rapidly you can adjust to change without protest. O.B.E. is not merely designed to assess and correct academic skills on a micro-scale. The goal is a “minimum positive attitude” as defined by the outcomes.

O.B.E. squashes the individual personality. The O.B.E. program becomes the parent, the character model, and all children are (as much as possible) formed after the image of O.B.E. The program does not merely create a “learning loop” to make sure students achieve goals, but it introduces “behavioral modification” techniques which reduce the student to a manipulated animal.

O.B.E. discourages academic excellence. A student who is a high achiever is allowed to go ahead just so far, then he is kept busy or employed as a change agent upon peers to bring them up to his level. Achievers soon learn not to achieve so quickly.

In sum, O.B.E. wants to appear as if it is built upon a foundation of educational reform to encourage educational achievement. In fact, it is built upon a foundation of psycho-sociological methods designed to achieve a collectivist mindset in all students. It values personalities which are easily manipulated and which depend upon the government.


A goal is the point or mark toward which one aims, the end or final purpose which one seeks to reach or accomplish.

The goal of Trivium-Based Education is to create an intellectually independent and self-reliant person, a person who can think for himself and act for himself.

What is the goal of O.B.E.? Every O.B.E. program, without exception, promotes a political, not an academic agenda. The political agenda of O.B.E. is always an amoral one-world collectivist mentality. Here are some examples (from Oklahoma and Pennsylvania State Guidelines).

First Grade Outcome:

“The student will identify different types of family structures, so that no single type is seen as the only possible one.”

Ninth through Twelfth Grade Outcome:

“The student will develop communication skills, including being able to talk with one’s actual or potential partner about sexual behavior.”

All grades:

“All students understand and appreciate their worth as unique and capable individuals, and exhibit self esteem.”

The emphasis is upon attitudes. The child must have “correct” positive attitudes toward issues such as multi-culturalism, non-sexism, environmental extremism, global citizenship, collectivism, and of course, government control of all areas of life.

A facade is created that parent-teacher cooperative committees determine the outcomes for each state. By means of careful selection of committee members, public town-meetings, and secret revisions, the consensus engineers produce virtually identical results, sometimes word-for-word identical results, from state to state. (Can parents from 38 different states coincidentally arrive independently at over 400 identical outcomes? But can graduates of government education ever calculate the probability of this happening?)

Can individuals opt out of O.B.E. through private education? The government is presently organizing society to require O.B.E.. If you don’t have it, you won’t be able to participate in society, hold a job, have medical care, own property, buy and sell. Even if you could participate, you would have to deal with a society with uniform O.B.E. values.

Despite all of their talk about “multi-cultural diversity” and “tolerance,” O.B.E. imposes an intolerant monolithic philosophy upon society. Children are shifted away from recognizing God and parents as authorities, and toward recognizing collective authorities, public opinion (determined by the government), peer groups (determined by the government) and the government itself (collectivist). The school is called the “new family” and the “real family” in O.B.E. literature.

If there are no absolutes, the government must become the maker of absolutes, determining the limits, not on the basis of God’s law, but on the basis of its own agenda. A government which thinks it is god will become totalitarian, and everyone becomes its slave. Everything is restrained by the government except the government. When the notion of accountability to God is removed, all outward restraint is removed, and the state deifies itself. The state is accountable to no one. The state is god. Then the head of state is the godhead. And you wondered why the present administration is so extremely intolerant of any criticism. Criticism of the godhead is blasphemy. To fail to acknowledge the almighty power of the state is atheism.


The Trivium model for education conforms to the reality of human nature, it values developing those skills necessary for self-learning, and it strives toward the goal of making the individual intellectually independent and self-reliant.

The O.B.E. model for education attempts to mold human nature into a new form, it seeks to instill individuals with a subject/slave mentality, and it has a goal of creating the ideal collectivist society.

Trivium Based Education tests academic achievement. O.B.E. tests value systems.
T.B.E. teaches moral absolutes. O.B.E. teaches moral relativism
T.B.E. teaches the logical deduction of values from absolutes. O.B.E. teaches self-clarification of values from a limited offering of politically correct options.
T.B.E. teaches academic skills and seeks the highest individual achievement. O.B.E. teaches “social” skills and reduces academics to the lowest common denominator.
T.B.E. educates for the individual and the family. O.B.E. educates for the state.
T.B.E. in its many forms (Liberal Arts; Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric; Readin’ ‘Ritin’ & ‘Rithmetic) has been an academic, social and economic success for millennia. O.B.E. in its many forms (Mastery Learning; Value-Added Core Curriculum; Standards Assessment Testing) has been an academic, social and economic failure for decades.

But be careful. When government education finally collapses, beware of what is proposed in its place.

Contra negantem principia non est disputandum.

Against one that denies principles, we must not dispute.


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