Homeschooling was never on my radar when I became a mom four times over. Our journey to homeschool is documented in this post but today I wanted to share how I settled on Classical Conversations, a classical education, for my children after 8 years of traditional schooling.
My oldest child, who turned 12 this summer, just finished the 6th grade at a private Christian school. Over her educational career thus far, she has attended public school for five years and private Christian school for three years. Public, private, and Christian schools are wildly different to say the least.
As most of you reading this, 2020 was the year the scales really fell off my eyes. The lack of critical thinking, Biblical wisdom, and overall knowledge astounded me.
Up to that point, I had been a mediocre parent where education was concerned. I left most of the work to the teachers and thought that was enough. Invested in their education was not something I could say about myself, sadly.
Convicted By The Holy Spirit
Over the years, the Lord prepared me for homeschooling. He revealed my sin, changed my mind, and laid scripture on my heart that all pointed to home education. He also put people in my life through the years that planted homeschool seeds too.
We are homeschooling, not because I had a strong desire, but because it was God’s will for myself and my children that He revealed to me through prayer. Truth be told, I’m a bit intimidated to homeschool four kids!
When I made the decision to withdraw our kids from their private Christian school, it was time to settle on a homeschool path. My oldest son and I briefly walked the homeschool road for his kindergarten year but that hardly made me a bonafide homeschool mom.
If you read this post, then you know I was first introduced to Classical Conversations years before I considered homeschooling my own. The children I knew that attended CC impressed me greatly.
When we began attending our church in our new town, a true gift from the Lord, not only were several of the families there homeschool families, but they attended Classical Conversations as well! The Lord divinely arranged the details of our life to bring us to this point.
What Is A Classical Education?
When you think of a classical education, you probably imagine Shakespeare, Homer, and Aristotle. If so, you’re right on track!
A classical education is rooted in something called the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. It is rooted in literature, history, mathematics, and fine arts. Classical education lays a foundation in knowledge unlike most conventional schooling methods.
Classical education seeks to make masters of subjects rather than students who know bits and pieces of this and that. Passing a test is not the goal of a classical education, rather a deep understanding of a subject. The ability to think critically, articulate, and defend an argument.
A classical education also teaches Latin. A language that was commonplace even for our forefathers to know, has all but been eradicated from contemporary education. Some argue it is a “dead language” but more than half of English is rooted in Latin. To fully understand and use our own language, a foundation in Latin is taught from kindergarten onward.
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
Why Classical Conversations Appealed To Me
As I’m sure you noticed, 2020 showcased the lack of critical thinking skills possessed by so many people in our country. The common denominator in the lack of logic seemed to be education. Most of us were educated in the same system, with the same government standards and goals.
Paying attention to my own school aged children over the last couple of years, I recognized that while they were smart by school standards, they weren’t necessarily excelling academically. They certainly weren’t being challenged.
Their education was setting them up for college but not for a lifetime of knowledge. College is not the benchmark my husband and I are using to evaluate our children’s success.
When it came time for me to choose a homeschool curriculum, Classical Conversations was at the forefront of my mind. I knew I wanted my children to learn a love for literature and the arts. I wanted to teach them how to think for themselves, be able to defend their positions intelligently, and learn about the world through a Christian lens.
I also wanted to homeschool with other people. Our previous experience with homeschooling, while brief, was isolating. Classical Conversations encourages community with their weekly meeting days where all of the children come and learn together.
Overall, Classical Conversations met all of my desires for a homeschool curriculum.
A Brief History Classical Conversations (CC)
Classical Conversations, the curriculum, is unlike many homeschool curriculums on the market. Aside from the fact that it is a classical education, they also operate uniquely.
Leigh Bortins founded Classical Conversations in 1997. Her core objective, and the company’s mission is to know God and make him known, through both mind and soul. She recognized a deep need to return the common education principals back to their origins and started CC out of her basement.
Bortin’s book, The Core, is a fantastic read! Today, Classical Conversations operates in 50+ countries with hundreds of thousands of students!
How CC Operates Differently Than Other Educational Models
There are three groups that comprise CC: Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge. Within Challenge, there are seven levels.
You could consider Foundations as early elementary aged, Essentials as upper elementary aged, and Challenge as middle and high school aged.
Classical Conversations operates on cycles for Foundations and Essentials. There are 3 cycles, you could even call them units, that rotate each year. The content in each cycle is different, but complementary to each other, and is repeated every three years.
The purpose of this, as I understand it, is to have children master a piece of information (even though they have no understanding of it’s meaning) so that when they get to their Challenge years, they can apply the seed that was planted so many times over already.
There is also an annual tuition required for each pupil to join a CC community. It is not much, significantly less than private schools, but there is a cost associated.
CC also requires some supplementing at home for students in Foundations and Essentials. Cooper (2nd grade, 7) and Norah (K, 5) will also be using Good and Beautiful curriculum at home for reading, writing, and math. Harper (7th, 12) will only use CC curriculum.
Let’s Give It A Go!
Now, I am not naive to think undoing decades of a particular way of learning is going to be easy. There is certainly some refining, sanctifying, and growth in our future.
Classical Conversations is going to be appropriately challenging for all of us but I am so excited for the task. To be learning alongside my children (I definitely do not know a lick of Latin) will be a humbling and rewarding experience. I pray that the Lord blesses these years ahead of us and we flourish as a family!
Do you have experience with Classical Conversations? If so, let me know in the comments!