At Gregory the Great Academy, the study of rhetoric begins with experience. Our Rhetoric courses immerse students in narrative – Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and American short stories – so that they may delight in beautifully expressed lines of thought about God and Man. Then we practice the classical progymnasmata, preliminary exercises designed to ready a man for public life by constructing arguments either in favor of the true, the good, and the beautiful or in refutation of false and ugly ideas. Rather than study theory, we begin in experience because practice readies a student to learn from masters such as Plato, Aristotle, and St. Paul. Having constructed classical forms themselves, and having become ready and exact, the students see how great men state great ideas.
“Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” The purpose of studying rhetoric rings clearly in Francis Bacon’s three succinct statements. We read to fill our minds with noble ideas; we confer with the text and with others in order to open our hearts to goodness and beauty; we write to state with correctness and precision the truth we have found. In the process, we discover ourselves and our place in the world that God has made for us.