In my introductory post for this blog, I mentioned that I am part of a Homeschooling community called Classical Conversations. I have been apart of a Classical Conversations community for about 4 years, and have had the experience of being on 3 different campuses. Over the years of being with CC, I have been approached by many of my friends who wanted to know a little more about it. Today I would like to explain my personal “why” I chose to be apart of a Classical Conversations campus.
I will admit that our journey into Classical Conversations wasn’t driven by my desire to give my kids a rigorous, highly academic, Classical education. In fact, the term “Classical” scared me a bit. I had visions of my kids wearing monk robes, while they boringly recited Latin eight hours a day. I really didn’t understand the Classical philosophy, and just assumed it had to do with Latin somehow, and reading a bunch of Plato by child genuineness, who would be doctors by the time they were 18.
Being isolated from a supportive homeschooling community is what made me consider that CC might be an option for us. The thought of homeschooling through high school also intimidated me. Big time. So much so, that I began to question my capabilities to even get them through the elementary years at home. Now mind you, my oldest was in 2nd grade when I had this panic about High school. But I felt the panic was justified enough to start considering my options other than homeschooling. I vividly remembering telling the Lord that if Homeschooling was something that He wanted me to continue to do, he would need to “do something” to help me out. Otherwise I would be signing them up for public school that coming Fall.
A week after that prayer, a friend that wasn’t even homeschooling at the time told me about CC, but was considering it for her kindergartener. Her excitement and enthusiasm for the possibilities that CC offered to her was infectious. So, I went to an information meeting with her and listened with an open mind. There I learned about the 3 stages of learning (I can explain that in another post) and I realized that the Classical Philosophy had some credibility for me personally and might be worth a try. What appealed to me the most though, was the promise of support through high school with their Challenge program.
At the time, we were living in FL when we signed up for CC. We were living about an hour north of Orlando, where there was only a few homeschooling options in our area. We had a yahoo email loop for the homeschoolers, and a homeschooling Co-op. There was also a park day for the homeschoolers who used the email loop. However, most of the moms had kids much older than I did, so I felt as though I didn’t quite fit in. I was a very young mom, who was terribly distracted with chasing 3 very young children. The “normal” age moms chatted blissfully (in my mind), without interruption while their pre-teens left them alone, and played sports. I felt that this type of set up really didn’t give me much time to get to know these moms very well. Also, the Co-op was out of budget for us. At the time I checked into it, it was set up in way where my children had to take a certain amount of classes. We couldn’t just one or two. We would also have to pay for those classes individually, for each child as well, so the tuition added up to more than we were able to afford. Classical Conversations was actually a much more affordable option for us.
That Fall, after attending the information meeting in the Summer, we started our “CC Journey”. When we began attending, I still wasn’t totally sold on the idea of a Classical Education philosophy. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad one. I just felt that it was for some people, and not for some people. I felt that I was in the “not for some people” category. Remember, I had in my head that Classical meant “really hard” and “very rigorous” and “highly structured”. Almost like a “mini university” for child prodigies. My kids, I knew, were not little Einsteins. I believed that the Classical model of education was great for kid geniuses, but for the regular every day kids, it probably would be too overwhelming and stressful. However, I was determined to keep an open and objective mind about the whole experience, and just absorb it for what it was and “enjoy the journey” as they say.
As I went through our first CC year, I began to be pleasantly surprised at how well my kids absorbed the information. They still were not little Einsteins, but they were more capable than I gave them credit for. I found that while it was “challenging”, it really was not “really hard” as I had thought it would be. My kids enjoyed trying to memorize the information….which flabbergasted me! In fact, it was becoming a pleasurable experience as our little community began to bond and learn together as we discussed great and beautiful ideas. Perfection wasn’t expected…only a desire to learn…and CC was giving me a desire to learn *and* home school my children. Before CC, I home schooled my children because I thought it was the best thing for them. But homeschooling them was a chore for me. Somehow joining that Classical Conversations community and learning along side other parents and their children fueled a desire in me to learn the same things that my kids were learning. I found that when they were sleeping I was researching Charlemagne and Eleanor of Aquitaine for the fun of it! 😉
Click here to watch Caleb, 5 at the time, give a presentation about Paul Revere
I also found that I could make CC as “highly structured” as I wanted, or I could be as “free-spirited” about it as I wanted in the elementary years. The Foundations Guide was the perfect “spine” to guide me along in learning the information. I could make it as simple as I would like just by sticking to the memory work only, or I could add onto it with other books and curriculum that pertained to the memory facts in the guide.
And the main reason I joined? The community and fellowship of other fellow homeschooling moms, proved to be the main reason I have stuck with CC over all these years. My kids entered in the Foundations level, and all my mommy friends have kids in the Foundations level as well. This meant I had friends that were experiencing the same stages of motherhood as I, and the same challenges with homeschooling. I didn’t feel so alone and isolated anymore. One of the unexpected blessings I found was that we were all using the same basic curriculum, so we all have been the experiencing similar challenges and triumphs. We all encouraged, discussed our various options and prayed for one another as we walked through the year together. I made some true life long friends in our CC community.
After 2 years in that community, we moved to Texas, and the first thing I did was check out CC in the area we live and join up as soon as I could. Finding a community here in Texas really helped the transition of moving go more smoothly for our family. While our community in Texas was different, the similar format and expected schedule of the day was comforting to my kids. We terribly miss our Florida community, but my kids were able to establish friends rather quickly. I have also made some new life long friends as well.
Is CC perfect? No it isn’t. There is no perfect curriculum or homeschooling program out there. But I have found CC to be easily adaptable to my own subjective educational philosophy. 😉 Am I “hard-core Classical”? I guess that would depend on the definition of Classical you ascribe to. I have found with my research in the Classical Model of education, that there are many opinions and even disagreements as to what Classical even means. To some it’s almost akin to self-education/unschooling. To others, it is highly structured and does closely follow a University Model. In my opinion Classical is a very subjective term and can have many variations of how it’s practically applied to the life of the student. What is common among the differing definitions of Classical, is the use of ideas and methods that have withstood the test of time, Classic books and texts, stimulating deep conversations, and mentors/tutors who love to inspire in their students a desire to learn.