English Professors Crider & Spring Compose "New Trivium" Book
Date Published: Feb. 2, 2018
Scott Crider, Ph.D., professor of English at the University of Dallas, and Matthew Spring, affiliate assistant professor of English, are writing a new book titled A New Trivium: 100 Things to Know for College – and Life! The work is devoted entirely to the trivium and how a classical education applies
to the academic and social lives of college students through the liberal arts.
Both authors agree that the stakes are high when it comes to pursuing a classical,
liberal arts education.
“The more we attend to the arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, the more present
we can become to our colleagues, classmates, friends and family members.”
— Matthew Spring, affiliate assistant professor of English
“Such an education,” Crider said, “is arguably necessary for happiness.”
For Crider, the centrality of the arts is most pedagogically insightful through the
trivium: English grammar, traditional logic, and classical rhetoric. These three “liberal
arts of language” inform one of the most important social activities humans participate
in – conversation. “The more we attend to the arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric,
the more present we can become to our colleagues, classmates, friends and family members,”
The idea for the book emerged from two courses taught at UD: the trivium and the seven
arts of language, as well as an article written by Crider – “Why My Favorite Nun Was
Right: The Recovery & Renewal of the Liberal Arts of Language.” Crider, who was at one point Spring’s teacher, has enjoyed collaborating with him
on the project. “It's very exciting to be co-authoring a book with my student, colleague,
and friend Dr. Spring,” Crider said. “We've written a third to a half of it so far.”
Spring too has gained insight from working with not only a friend, but a mentor who
excels at the art he teaches.
“In addition to being an accomplished writer and inspired educator who has mentored
me from my first semester at UD, Dr. Crider has become a friend whose company I seek.
He instills conversation simultaneously with joy, gravitas and wisdom,” said Spring.
A classical education is the the primary tool for refining the art of conversation,
and many schools nationwide have adopted a liberal arts curriculum to better preserve
that art. Crider became aware of the growing number of schools offering a classical
education through his first book, The Office of Assertion. While classical charter schools have expanded at a more rapid pace, classical ideals
have re-emerged in Catholic and private schools as well. And, although the University
of Dallas has always been committed to studying and extending the liberal arts tradition,
the renewal of liberal learning has both been changed by and is increasing in scope
within UD’s academic purview.
“It is influencing, and is influenced by, colleges and universities like UD that are
classically oriented. The Classical Education Graduate Program that Dean [Joshua] Parens and Assistant Dean [Matthew] Post have invented and cultivated
is a part of this renaissance, bringing the UD education to more and more teachers
and, I hope, demanding of us at UD that we take the arts more seriously than we sometimes
do,” he said.
“Ours is not the only model of liberal education, but it is a very good one,” Crider
said. “Our graduate degrees and certificates in classical education, in concert with
our Education Department, are an important part of this educational renaissance.”
For Crider, UD contributes to the overall goal of human flourishing in its mission
to both study and extend the work of Western civilization through the process of classical
“The value of a classical liberal education is that – in learning arts of language
and number, and exercising them in response to the greatest events, experiments, texts,
artifacts, and equations in the tradition – the student actualizes his or her intellectual
potential to contribute to the tradition and is prepared to flourish as a free and
Photos: (Top) Matthew Spring, affiliate assistant professor of English; (Bottom) Scott Crider, Ph.D., professor of English.