The Rhetoric of CCE Online

Recent developments have forced upon us the question of doing CCE online. Can it be done? Can it be done well? Is it even compatible with the classical understanding of education and it’s primary methodology of Trivium-driven learning?

Tom Vierra

Dr. Tom Vierra is Director of Academics at Wilson Hill Academy and a teacher of Great Conversation, Rhetoric, and Logic courses. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Arizona State University and has taught in classical education for fourteen years, the past six entirely online. In addition to having taught courses in classical literature, philosophy, writing, history, logic, and rhetoric, he has also helped to start two different classical schools, which included service as Academic Dean and Assistant Headmaster. He and his wife, Tracey, homeschool their five (soon to be six) children on their small farm among the beautiful rolling hills of middle Tennessee. Tom and Tracey share a love of Dickens novels, great books on education, and anything that Wendell Berry writes.

Recovering A Lost Tool of Rhetoric Stasis Theory’s Essential Role in Rhetoric (Part I)

If you teach rhetoric, you should teach stasis theory. In the classical tradition, teachers recognized that any fruitful disagreement begins by identifying the true controversy at hand. e ancient Athenian could end up dead or property-less if he misidentified the controversy in court or found himself unprepared for his opponent’s argument. To address these high stakes, ancient rhetoricians developed stasis theory, which lives within invention, the skill of applying fitting arguments to a relevant controversy. In this session, we will journey through the beginnings and development of stasis theory, learning what it is and how ancient students practiced it. Finally, we will practice together using contemporary controversies.

Andrew Selby

Andrew has a passion for classical Christian education and wants to help teachers, administrators and parents catch a vision for a tradition-resourced approach to helping our boys and girls grow to be mature men and women of God. He serves as Dean of Classical Instruction at Trinity Classical Academy, where he also teaches medieval history, Bible, Latin and rhetoric classes. He has published articles about Church history, biblical interpretation, spiritual formation and systematic theology. He has a doctorate in religion focusing on early Christian theology from Baylor University, a master’s in theology from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree from Biola University, where he studied at the Torrey Honors Institute.

Recovering a Lost Tool of Rhetoric: Stasis Theory in the Writing Classroom (Part II)

No rhetorical tool is perhaps more important to revive than stasis theory. Developed in ancient law courts, stasis theory offers immediate applications for the classical classroom.
With stasis theory, students unlock three of the most difficult elements of persuasive writing: inventing ideas, generating claims and structuring arguments. Most importantly, students are trained to position their argument at a point where they can make real progress. is session’s emphasis is practical, born out of years of using the theory as a backbone for rhetoric classes. Attendees will learn how to incorporate stasis theory into writing classrooms, where it can be used to craft short essays, argumentative papers and even a senior thesis.

Shea Ramquist

Shea is a native of Tokyo, Japan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in humanities a er studying at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute and Oxford University. He then earned a master’s degree in intellectual history at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in the American classical college and the rise of the modern university. In 2015, he accepted a position in the rhetoric school of Trinity Classical Academy in Santa Clarita, California, where he teaches honors courses in history, philosophy and rhetoric, including senior thesis.

Rhetoric at Your School: Centerpiece or Add-On?

More than likely, your school views its Rhetoric program as a distinctive. It is an aspect of your school that sets it apart from other schools in your geographic community and it is something that allows your constituencies to rest assured that you really are offering a classical curriculum. But can you say in all honesty that rhetoric is a centerpiece of your curriculum? Is it crucial to how, what and why everything else is taught at your school? It should be. Join this session to learn what you can do to make it so.

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is in his first year at Veritas, directing the Rhetoric curriculum and teaching theology. He has been a teacher and administrator in classical Christian schools for 15 years. Prior to joining Veritas, he was Director of Upper School at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Florida, and Head of Upper School at Westminster Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. Andrew’s academic work has focused primarily on Rhetoric, both in curriculum development and in teacher training. From 2008 to 2010, he hosted the Memphis Rhetoric Symposium, and since then he has been a consultant and teacher trainer for several schools. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Memphis, a master’s degree in divinity from Samford University and master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Memphis. He and his wife, Keri, have four children, spanning in age from 7 to 17.

Studying Rhetoric for College Success: How the Study of Classical Rhetoric Can Prepare Students to Excel in Higher Education

Rhetoric seeks to prepare students to “observe all the available means” of persuasion, enabling them to more easily master every kind of writing from analytical reports to argumentative essays. Sadly, many high school educators seek only to have their students write longer papers with long lists of resources and citations, calling that “higher-level” work. The truth is, merely addressing “the who, what, when and where” does
not prepare students for good, college-level writing. The study of rhetoric surpasses the limited training of the high school “research paper” by studying how to collect the best ideas and resources for a thesis (invention), how to arrange ideas and evidence in a compelling way (arrangement) and how to adapt the most engaging language to communicate those ideas (style). In this seminar, we will survey other important kinds of rhetoric-inspired writing beyond the research paper, such as exploratory essays, deliberative essays and argumentative papers, all of which will help students become versatile writers prepared for all types of college writing assignments. The seminar will also address the value of peer review and collaboration, and ways the teacher can serve as a writing coach. The seminar will conclude by noting some of the best curricula and Internet resources available.

Joelle Hodge

Joelle holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. She began her career as a staffer to Senator Arlen Specter before finding her professional home in the world of classical education in 1999. She has nearly 20 years of logic-teaching experience, most of which were spent at a classical school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There, she also developed much of their Logic and Rhetoric curricula. She has co-authored two logic books: The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies and The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic, both published by Classical Academic Press. Joelle was recently appointed as Scholé Academy’s Principal and works to support a staff of nearly 20 educators. She enjoys helping them develop productive and inspiring classrooms. She also travels to classical schools and co-ops across the country, tailoring workshops and training teachers in the fundamentals of dialectic and Rhetoric-stage pedagogy.

Whence Rhetoric for The Good Life?

Most, if not all, classical educators acknowledge the importance of rhetoric in the curriculum of the liberal arts. Many also recognize that the skills of rhetoric are not limited to one or two classes taken on the subject of persuasive writing or public speaking, but are inculcated throughout the education of a child; from getting Jack or Jill up in front of folks to recite Scripture or play the role of Achilles, to their using the tools of language through progymnasmata exercises, to their imitating great writers and speakers of the past and present. Yet when it comes to thinking about formal instruction in rhetoric for one, two, or maybe three years at the end of a child’s “high school” education; what ought the rhetoric curriculum offer? By consulting the educational philosophies for rhetorical training among the Greeks, Romans, and Early Christians, modern classical educators can sharpen our conceptions of what a program of rhetorical training can and ought to be. More specifically, I argue that since the practice of rhetoric is inseparable from questions of Truth, Justice, and “the Good” in the polis, any educational program of rhetoric in which these matters aren’t pervasive throughout undermines the classical foundations of the art.

Joshua Butcher

Born and raised in rural north-central Florida, Mr. Butcher made pilgrimages through the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Republic of Texas on his way back to Florida’s City of Five Flags, a place where his overactive imagination never imagined settling. Currently he teaches at Trinitas Christian School and spends much of his time raising four young lads and a li le lady with his wife, Hannah, whose own pilgrimages as an Air Force kid far outstrip his own.

Recovering the Humanity of Rhetoric

Rhetoric is more than just winning arguments or persuading opponents. It is the act of bringing two minds into harmony; it is the act of harmonizing a community. Rhetoric and its canons, Invention, Arrangement, Elocution, Memory, and Delivery, are themselves designed to harmonize. They are, moreover, designed to honor the humanity of our audience, our community, our conversation partner. Recovering the humanity of rhetoric means seeing and teaching the canons in such a way as to promote the humanity of the other. These tools, already designed to honor the humanity of the other, get abused when rhetoric is reduced to winning an argument or mere persuasion. Let us recover the humanity of rhetoric; let us teach our students to honor those who disagree with them.

Matt Bianco

Ma Bianco is the Director of The Lost Tools of Writing for the CiRCE Institute, where he also serves as a mentor in the CiRCE apprenticeship program. A homeschooling father of three, he graduated his oldest two sons, the eldest of which is a ending St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. His second child is a ending Belmont Abbey College in Charlo e, NC, and his youngest (and only daughter) is a high school junior. He is married to his altogether lovely, high school sweetheart, Patty. He is the author of Letters to My Sons: A Humane Vision for Human Relationships.

An Introduction to Rhetoric: 34 Terms You Should Know

Ever wondered what goes on in the rhetoric classroom? This workshop teaches the essential concepts covered in a rhetoric course—perfect for teachers curious about how this master discipline ties in with their own. We will create a mind map for these 34 terms, a one-page handy visual of the essential concepts of the art of rhetoric.

Alyssan Barnes

Alyssan Barnes holds a PhD in Rhetoric and is the author of the newly released Rhetoric Alive!: Principles of Persuasion. She teaches Rhetoric, Literature, and Latin at Live Oak Classical School in Waco.

The Place and Importance of Historical Theology in a Rhetoric-Stage Curriculum

In the Upper School of Providence Classical School, the Bible/Theology scope and sequence is as follows: seventh grade—Bible Study Methods/Hermeneutics; eighth grade—Old Testament Survey; ninth grade—New Testament Survey; tenth grade—History of Theology; eleventh grade—Ethics; and twelfth grade—Apologetics.

Can such a scope and sequence for Bible/Theology be justi ed, in particular, the tenth-grade course offering? Of the myriad possible classes that could be offered, why one in historical theology? And what is historical theology anyway? This workshop will be based on a number of assertions:

Assertion 1: Historical theology is chronically underemphasized—in the church at large, at seminaries and Bible colleges, and in Christian school curricula.

Assertion 2: Most Christians have little understanding even of the overall purview (concepts, content, and methods) of historical theology.

Assertion 3: The reappearance of old heresies with new monikers constitutes proof of Assertion 1.

Assertion 4: Widespread and rancorous sectarianism within Christendom is further evidence that Christians have neglected this pivotal branch of theology.

Following explication of these assertions, the balance of the workshop will provide
1) an outline of historical theology toward the goal of countering the trends that the aforementioned assertions reflect, and also 2) an argument for the necessity of an historical theology course—rather than a course in church history or systematic theology—in the rhetoric-stage curriculum of a classical and Christian school. Historical theology as a discipline is a sine qua non of Christian theological enquiry and discussion, as well as a substrate that promotes and undergirds Christian unity.

Steven Mittwede

Steve Mittwede is an instructor of Earth Science and Theology at Providence Classical School. In 1981, he was graduated from “Their Majesties Royal College” (The College of William and Mary) with a BS in Geology, after which he concurrently worked as a mineral resources geologist for the South Carolina Geological Survey and completed his MS and PhD in Geology at the University of South Carolina; between late 1984 and mid-1987, he was also taking classes in Bible, Theology, and Missions at Columbia International University (CIU). In the midst of all of that, he married Dana, and they were blessed with four sons in close succession—all now grown, married, and raising their own broods. Since the incredibly busy 1980s, he and his family served in Turkey for 23 years, during which Steve was awarded an MA in Intercultural Studies from CIU and an MTh in Modern Evangelical Theology from Wales Evangelical School of Theology (now Union School of Theology). Never one to weary of the academic setting, he recently earned his EdS in Educational Leadership from CIU. Steve and Dana make their home in the thriving metropolis of Tomball, Texas.

Why Rhetoric is Not a Subject, Why Every Subject Needs Rhetoric, and How to Teach It

Our fragmented age tends to think of everything we do in school as a subject, no more or less important than any other subject. Kern contends that Rhetoric is so important that it should not even be considered a subject. Indeed, teaching Rhetoric properly may well be the most important thing you teach in your school.

Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern is the Founder and President of CiRCE Institute. He has also helped found Providence Academy, Ambrose School, Great Ideas Academy and Regents Schools of the Carolinas. Andrew is the co-author of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America, The Lost Tools of Writing and The CiRCE Guide to Reading. Andrew is also a consultant and founded the CiRCE apprenticeship.