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I haven't seen a thread on CLAA for a while so I thought I'd check in to see how those of you who have taken the plunge are liking it.

 

What would you say are the strengths of the program?

Its weaknesses?

Which course(s) did you sign your dc up for and what age are you dc?

Oh, are you willing to share if you're Catholic or not? It's my understanding that you don't have to be.

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DD7 just started Grammar 1 on Monday. It's going well so far. :tongue_smilie: I'm pretty much planning to do the course with her since she's my oldest, I have the time now, and I've never learned this stuff before. I can see that it would take at least 2-4 weeks to get her rolling independently if that were my goal.

 

I'm doing the Praeceptor Training. I just started on Monday too, but so far so good.

 

I'm Catholic but currently attending the Methodist church my dh grew up in.

 

They do ask for your church in the application form but I believe they let anyone take the courses.

Edited by Einen
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As my compilation of the problems with CLAA runs to 10 pages, I distribute it by email. Either PM me here or send me an email through the WTM Board.

 

In short, the program is not Catholic and it is not classical. It relies on untested theories of a man with minimal education, and no actual formation or training in the subjects he purports to teach. He works hard to build a cult of personality about himself and he advocates child abuse. He is emotionally abusive to vulnerable women and to children.

 

And those are the most polite things I'm willing to say in public about Bill Michael and the CLAA.

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As my compilation of the problems with CLAA runs to 10 pages, I distribute it by email. Either PM me here or send me an email through the WTM Board.

 

In short, the program is not Catholic and it is not classical. It relies on untested theories of a man with minimal education, and no actual formation or training in the subjects he purports to teach. He works hard to build a cult of personality about himself and he advocates child abuse. He is emotionally abusive to vulnerable women and to children.

 

And those are the most polite things I'm willing to say in public about Bill Michael and the CLAA.

 

Wow. Now...if you publicly make such statements, you would need to publicly prove it now.

 

Blessings

 

P.S. I have totally different opinion on the school, their teachers and the "vulnerable women". I am very glad we have enrolled and we are planning to continue.

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I looked into this a while ago and got a "bad vibe" from the director via the forum and web site, so I stayed away. I'm not sure specifically what it was that turned me off, though, other than he came on too strong. Looks like I was right to trust my instincts.

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In short, the program is not Catholic and it is not classical. It relies on untested theories of a man with minimal education, and no actual formation or training in the subjects he purports to teach.

 

I thought he was using an old Jesuit grammar to teach Grammar 1. This seems like such an excellent way to learn Latin. Is there a problem with the course content of Grammar?

 

From the site....

 

In Grammar I, students receive a systematic introduction to the rules of Grammar, learning the content of the first part of the classic Grammar of Emmanuel Alvarez, S.J..

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As my compilation of the problems with CLAA runs to 10 pages, I distribute it by email. Either PM me here or send me an email through the WTM Board.

 

In short, the program is not Catholic and it is not classical. It relies on untested theories of a man with minimal education, and no actual formation or training in the subjects he purports to teach. He works hard to build a cult of personality about himself and he advocates child abuse. He is emotionally abusive to vulnerable women and to children.

 

And those are the most polite things I'm willing to say in public about Bill Michael and the CLAA.

I would be interested in seeing you back up your claims. You make some pretty strong public statements with no public evidence. I do have children enrolled in CLAA and I find it much more organized, more efficient and much more relevant to the world and our spiritual life than any other program I have used in the past.

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I thought he was using an old Jesuit grammar to teach Grammar 1. This seems like such an excellent way to learn Latin. Is there a problem with the course content of Grammar?

 

From the site....

 

In Grammar I, students receive a systematic introduction to the rules of Grammar, learning the content of the first part of the classic Grammar of Emmanuel Alvarez, S.J..

 

From my understanding, Grammar 1 is heavily based on the content of a few old, classic grammars. However, it's not like each lesson is verbatim from those grammars. Rather, Mr. Michael has pulled from the primary sources and synthesized all the information into lessons. So what you are getting is Mr Michael's interpretation of what those classic grammars are saying - you're trusting that his interpretation is accurate. It's the same thing with most of the other core courses (at least the intro ones) - they, like any textbook, teach Mr. Michael's view of the subject. It's a view that has been substantially informed by the classics, but the net result is that you are seeing the classics through the lens of Mr. Michael's interpretation. CLAA rises or falls on how faithful and accurate Mr. Michael's views are to reality.

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I signed up and read the forums and decided I don't want to have anything to do with the school.

 

That was my experience as well. I contacted Mr. Michael directly and was told that an "anti-Catholic" (which I am emphatically NOT, as I believe my Catholic friends will attest) wouldn't last long in any advanced course at CLAA. But hey--that's honest and forthright: I wasn't put off by that. It was the forum that put me off CLAA completely.

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CLAA purports to be replicating Catholic classical education the way it was taught by the Jesuits in the 1600s. The Ratio Studiorum is the plan which became the standard for the Jesuit educational system. The Ratio is clear: the heart of the their educational system is the teacher.

 

By the very essence, homeschooling, online tutorials, and education per the Ratio are in contradiction. The teachers were highly qualified, trained teachers in their fields. This is not a concern to be dismissed lightly. It undermines the foundation on which CLAA is based on.

 

In addition, Mr. Michael does not meet the educational standards of the Jesuit teachers. He himself is not that highly trained. When I first spent time investigating CLAA, I was disturbed by the assignments that were online representing work for 5 and 7 yr olds. They were not age level appropriate and indicative of the fact that Mr. Michael taught high school and not elementary level children.

 

The Ratio was never intended to be used with 5 yr olds but intended for students around age 10 or 11 and older. Jesuits thought educating elementary level children was a laudable pursuit, but not one in which they actively engaged until later dates and, then, not with the Ratio. The grammar he is therefore pro-offering to younger students is, again, an indication that fundamental educational premises behind the Ratio are not being followed.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I would be interested in seeing you back up your claims. You make some pretty strong public statements with no public evidence. I do have children enrolled in CLAA and I find it much more organized, more efficient and much more relevant to the world and our spiritual life than any other program I have used in the past.

 

He does make it public. He emails it to anyone who asks. I read it and found it very informative.

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From my understanding, Grammar 1 is heavily based on the content of a few old, classic grammars. However, it's not like each lesson is verbatim from those grammars. Rather, Mr. Michael has pulled from the primary sources and synthesized all the information into lessons. So what you are getting is Mr Michael's interpretation of what those classic grammars are saying - you're trusting that his interpretation is accurate. It's the same thing with most of the other core courses (at least the intro ones) - they, like any textbook, teach Mr. Michael's view of the subject. It's a view that has been substantially informed by the classics, but the net result is that you are seeing the classics through the lens of Mr. Michael's interpretation. CLAA rises or falls on how faithful and accurate Mr. Michael's views are to reality.

 

In addition to that, I was uncomfortable with not being able to see the entire curriculum. I suppose that is true of any online class, but couple that with his views on the forum and that was the deciding factor for me.

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That was my experience as well. I contacted Mr. Michael directly and was told that an "anti-Catholic" (which I am emphatically NOT, as I believe my Catholic friends will attest) wouldn't last long in any advanced course at CLAA. But hey--that's honest and forthright: I wasn't put off by that. It was the forum that put me off CLAA completely.

:grouphug: I will definitely testify to that fact!

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I haven't seen a thread on CLAA for a while so I thought I'd check in to see how those of you who have taken the plunge are liking it.

 

What would you say are the strengths of the program?

Its weaknesses?

Which course(s) did you sign your dc up for and what age are you dc?

Oh, are you willing to share if you're Catholic or not? It's my understanding that you don't have to be.

 

My kids are enrolled in a number of classes. They are very challenging even for me. My son is 10, nearly 11, and quite a challenge but he has taken to CLAA. We do Grammar I, Catechism I, and Classical Vocabulary I. We still do SOTW and FLL. My dd7 is doing petty school. We just started with her and it's really easy BUT we are doing it so that she will transition easier into Grammar 1 and so forth.

 

The one thing I would like is a scope of the course so that I can see an end in sight.

 

Unlike other programs like WTM and SL, there is no focus on literature. It's all serious study.

 

People either viscerally dislike CLAA, particularly Mr. Michael, or really they really dig CLAA. It's weird as I respect most everyone who despises Mr. Michael. Mr. Michael doesn't come through in the lessons so if you hate his "tone", you can still do the lessons as some do.

 

I don't see why a non-Catholic would want to do this program unless you want to be converted. The main thrust is that only true classical education is Catholic.

 

Child abuse: Mr. Michael is in the "spare the rod and spoil the child" camp. But he also writes that if you are using the rod more than for an occasional infraction, that's your fault entirely and it's not the child who needs the rod but you (figuratively). He also has links on his site to Dr. Ray Guaramendi( I can't spell his name) who has a gentle approach to parentlng. So if Mr. Michael was all about beating the snot out of kids, he wouldn't be encouraging parents to look up Dr. Ray.

 

Abuse of vulnerable women: I haven't seen this. Granted I haven't read every single thing he has written but I found his opinions to be very humane and understanding of women regarding housework, the extraordinary burden on women, money, abortion, and infertility. His detractors are seeing/reading something that I am not.

 

Not Catholic, not classical: Well, it's more Catholic than I am used to. CLAA has influenced us to attend mass everyday (well, when I had a car), devote time to family prayers, learning the rosary, and our next step will be the Liturgy of the Hours which I had never even heard of before.

 

Hope that helps.

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Child abuse: Mr. Michael is in the "spare the rod and spoil the child" camp. But he also writes that if you are using the rod more than for an occasional infraction, that's your fault entirely and it's not the child who needs the rod but you (figuratively). He also has links on his site to Dr. Ray Guaramendi( I can't spell his name) who has a gentle approach to parentlng. So if Mr. Michael was all about beating the snot out of kids, he wouldn't be encouraging parents to look up Dr. Ray.

 

Mr Michael clearly stated on his forum that he *daily* uses a *leather belt* for disciplining his children AND that everybody who does not do as he does is risking their children's souls. That conversation turned a lot of people (including me) away! And rightly so!

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http://www.edocere.org/articles/jesuit_model_education.htm A really concise article that outlines the Ratio Studiorum that CLAA purports to embrace and replicate in some fashion. A cursory reading reveals that in terms of subject matter alone CLAA does not ascribe to the model created by the Jesuits. Specifically refer to the paragraphs regarding humane letters, a far cry from the coursework as outlined on the site. I am a product of Jesuit education from age 12 onward including graduate school and law school. All coursework in philosophy, theology and literature primarily under the tutelage of priests from the Jesuit order. Having had a great deal of experience with the Ratio in practice I can say CLAA resembles my education in no recognizable fashion. As always, presumably persons choose home education so that they can be the final arbiters regarding the education of their children. So be it. I would certainly pay attention to the opinions of those who actually had the benefit of Jesuit education regarding whether or not the CLAA is what it purports to be. I suspect the critics are not merely espousing a visceral reaction but rather one based on years of experience and knowledge of what Catholic Jesuit education would look like. Furthermore, I find a lack of humility and grace toward those who experience their Catholic faith in any fashion differently from what Mr Michael deems appropriate to be offputting. If I want a Catholic resource or coursebook, I expect to see a marking in the frontpage of Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur .

Edited by elizabeth
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Furthermore, I find a lack of humility and grace toward those who experience their Catholic faith in any fashion differently from what Mr Michael deems appropriate to be offputting. .

 

Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Faith, hope, and charity; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

Anyone or anything which does not reflect this are poor reflections of what we are called to embody. I am the miserable wretch which wounded the Lord so severely and bloodied His Body in the scourging. I nailed Him to the Cross. He enfolds me in complete tenderness.

 

How are we called to respond?

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In many states, the striking of a minor with an object by someone in authority over them (parent, teacher, minister, etc.) is the criminal act of child abuse.

 

This has nothing to do with parenting philosophy. It has to do, on this matter, with an incitement to violence that in some jurisdictions constitutes a criminal act.

 

When challenged on this publicly by Drew Campbell and others, Bill Michael became abusive and dismissive towards them. This occurred not just on his own forum, from which he regularly deletes the worst excesses of his treatment of others (along with examples of a complete lack of logic, rhetoric, or grammar in his argumentation). He carried this fight onto the Latin Classical Education Yahoo! Group where, as far as I know, the archives still contain his declarations referred to above by Tress and read by many others.

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People either viscerally dislike CLAA, particularly Mr. Michael, or really they really dig CLAA. It's weird as I respect most everyone who despises Mr. Michael.

Sometimes I just don't know what to think about CLAA. I've been drawn to CLAA from the beginning, and Mr. Michael's tone, while off-putting, was understandable. In fact, most of the things I don't like about how CLAA is run - mostly relating to the lack of genuine debate - I can find perfectly legitimate explanations for them.

 

But yet...so many people whose opinions I respect think all those little things, minor in themselves, add up to something significant.

 

Abuse of vulnerable women: I haven't seen this. Granted I haven't read every single thing he has written but I found his opinions to be very humane and understanding of women regarding housework, the extraordinary burden on women, money, abortion, and infertility. His detractors are seeing/reading something that I am not.

I can see it in the conjunction of the following: Mr. Michael asserts that modern education is wretched, and classical education is vastly superior. But the majority of hs'ers seeking a classical ed for our kids didn't have a classical education, and Mr. Michael is very firm that you can't teach what you don't know (true enough). Not only that, without a classical education, you are incapable of using available resources (individually written by classically trained experts) to put together a classical course of study. This is because, without knowledge of where you are going, you are incapable of getting there (reasonable). In effect, you can't even properly evaluate whether something qualifies as genuine classical education without having had one yourself (it would be hard to evaluate the claims of a physicist about quantum theory without a high level of physics knowledge).

 

But this means that we non-classically educated parents are not qualified to question Mr. Michael's interpretation of classical education. We just have to take his word for it.

 

And since a proper education addresses the fundamental principles underlying all aspects of life, it ends up that we really aren't qualified to question Mr. Michael on much of anything. I mean, sure, we can *ask*, and see what he has to say, but if we disagree, if we can't follow his logic, well, it's just because we aren't as well educated. The thing is, he has a point - he has much more training in logic than I do, and that training makes a difference. And he makes a big deal that if you don't like it, just leave. But the implicit (and sometimes explicit) message is that those who leave are rejecting the truth for something lesser. They "just can't handle the truth".

 

Basically, CLAA says that we hs'ing parents (most of whom are women) are just not qualified to give a truly superior education to our kids - we just aren't well educated enough. But Mr. Michael *is* well enough educated - thus CLAA. The comparative education levels of Mr. Michael and CLAA parents creates a power imbalance, one that Mr. Michael seems to largely try to reinforce rather than try to diminish. That certainly is a situation ripe for abuse, even if done unintentionally.

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Sometimes I just don't know what to think about CLAA. I've been drawn to CLAA from the beginning, and Mr. Michael's tone, while off-putting, was understandable. In fact, most of the things I don't like about how CLAA is run - mostly relating to the lack of genuine debate - I can find perfectly legitimate explanations for them.

 

But yet...so many people whose opinions I respect think all those little things, minor in themselves, add up to something significant.

 

 

I can see it in the conjunction of the following: Mr. Michael asserts that modern education is wretched, and classical education is vastly superior. But the majority of hs'ers seeking a classical ed for our kids didn't have a classical education, and Mr. Michael is very firm that you can't teach what you don't know (true enough). Not only that, without a classical education, you are incapable of using available resources (individually written by classically trained experts) to put together a classical course of study. This is because, without knowledge of where you are going, you are incapable of getting there (reasonable). In effect, you can't even properly evaluate whether something qualifies as genuine classical education without having had one yourself (it would be hard to evaluate the claims of a physicist about quantum theory without a high level of physics knowledge).

 

But this means that we non-classically educated parents are not qualified to question Mr. Michael's interpretation of classical education. We just have to take his word for it.

 

And since a proper education addresses the fundamental principles underlying all aspects of life, it ends up that we really aren't qualified to question Mr. Michael on much of anything. I mean, sure, we can *ask*, and see what he has to say, but if we disagree, if we can't follow his logic, well, it's just because we aren't as well educated. The thing is, he has a point - he has much more training in logic than I do, and that training makes a difference. And he makes a big deal that if you don't like it, just leave. But the implicit (and sometimes explicit) message is that those who leave are rejecting the truth for something lesser. They "just can't handle the truth".

 

Basically, CLAA says that we hs'ing parents (most of whom are women) are just not qualified to give a truly superior education to our kids - we just aren't well educated enough. But Mr. Michael *is* well enough educated - thus CLAA. The comparative education levels of Mr. Michael and CLAA parents creates a power imbalance, one that Mr. Michael seems to largely try to reinforce rather than try to diminish. That certainly is a situation ripe for abuse, even if done unintentionally.

 

Is he? I would suggest that only experts in each field: philosophy, theology, and humanities are qualified. Not one individual across multiple disciplines whom is not an expert. I believe there are very few individuals that actually meet the qualifications and they would be a small group of priests and theologians and PhDs.

 

CLAA is being created on one man's vision of his personal interpretation. To actually create what is being suggested is the work of many and with spiritual oversight.

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Is he? I would suggest that only experts in each field: philosophy, theology, and humanities are qualified. Not one individual across multiple disciplines whom is not an expert. I believe there are very few individuals that actually meet the qualifications and they would be a small group of priests and theologians and PhDs.

 

CLAA is being created on one man's vision of his personal interpretation. To actually create what is being suggested is the work of many and with spiritual oversight.

Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to say that Mr. Michael *is* educated enough to do this on his own, just that he *presents* himself that way. I definitely agree that, for better or worse, CLAA is a one-man show.

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As to the question of whether or no the school is "Catholic"...

 

Canon Law governs broadly, and the local Ordinary specifically, what institutions may or may not call themselves Catholic or market that they offer a Catholic education.

 

Further, the Jesuits are pretty protective of their "brand", for what its worth these days.

 

Bill Michael's CLAA doesn't meet the criteria in Canon Law, has no recognition from his Ordinary and thus may not market itself as a Catholic school or claim to provide a Catholic education.

 

There are no Jesuits involved, AFAIK, and it is not a school erected by the Society of Jesus according to the norms laid down in, you guessed it, Canon Law and the Constitutions of the Society.

 

For these reasons he cannot rightfully lay claim to Jesuit spirituality or education, either, although he attempts to do so.

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Well...it looks like you (the original author) have asked a question and you got responses from people who are not enrolled or who quit after few weeks. :tongue_smilie:

 

If you have a specific question, I can answer. The best and multitude of answers you will get at the CLAA forum.

 

As for popularity. :D There are 270 happy families.....690 happy students enrolled and it is the first year only, there was no advertising, only the word of mouth. Only about 15 students or so backed off and that was always in the early stages.

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I am not aware that a Catholic homeschool program must obtain permission from the ordinary to operate as Catholic homeschool program. I am sure that not all the ones currently in operation have such a designation.

 

I also don't believe that the CLAA calls itself "Jesuit". Yes, the Ratio is certainly an influence, but the curriculum is not a replica. And as a whole, the Jesuit order has sadly fallen far from their glorious past, and I would definitely not entrust my child's education to a Jesuit institution today.

 

The CLAA does work closely with the Missionaries of the Poor and Mr. Michael is involved in teaching and developing programs for the brothers, as well as developing a school program for missionary children that will be available free of charge to children served by the Missionaries of the Poor all over the world. Father Richard Ho Lung, the founder of the MOP, is himself a former Jesuit, and I can't imagine he would allow someone who was teaching things contrary to the Faith to play such a large role in developing educational programs for his order.

 

The CLAA also has two professors from the highly regarded St. Charles Borromeo Seminary writing courses for program. Again, I find it difficult that they would associate themselves with a program that was counter to the Faith.

 

Certainly, Mr. Michael is a polarizing figure and the CLAA is not for everyone. He has strong beliefs and challenges you to think about many things in an entirely different way. The discipline thread which is so controversial needs to be read in its entirety and understood in the context of the greater discussion. There have been many comments by Mr. Michael which taken by themselves would be troubling, but then looked at in the light of the whole conversation or conversations, make sense. Do I agree with everything he says, no. There aren't many people I agree with completely, but I don't disregard everything else they say. Do you have to agree with everything Mr. Michael says or believes to use the CLAA? No. Is it a perfect program? No. But neither is anything else I've used in my 15 plus years of homeschooling.

 

I encourage those who are interested in the CLAA to go to the website and explore it for yourself. Mr. Michael is upfront about what he is doing and if you don't agree with him or his program, that's fine, it's not for everyone. But if you are searching for a truly classical program, you may be surprised to see what the CLAA offers.

Edited by AveMaria
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I just want to point out that I am not Mr. Michael's friend or relative. I am just a pedestrian. I think, actually, our family has the distinction of being CLAA most underachieving family.

 

Mr Michael clearly stated on his forum that he *daily* uses a *leather belt* for disciplining his children AND that everybody who does not do as he does is risking their children's souls. That conversation turned a lot of people (including me) away! And rightly so!

 

I remember, vaguely, that conversation. I took that to be a common POV of many parents although they don't express it the way he does as he talks about the soul whereas most parents are really only thinking of a child's adulthood. If you don't like corporal punishment, you don't like corporal punishment no matter what hs circle you are in.

 

But that isn't the ONLY thing he said on the subject as I pointed out in my earlier post.

 

In many states, the striking of a minor with an object by someone in authority over them (parent, teacher, minister, etc.) is the criminal act of child abuse.

 

This has nothing to do with parenting philosophy. It has to do, on this matter, with an incitement to violence that in some jurisdictions constitutes a criminal act.

 

When challenged on this publicly by Drew Campbell and others, Bill Michael became abusive and dismissive towards them. This occurred not just on his own forum, from which he regularly deletes the worst excesses of his treatment of others (along with examples of a complete lack of logic, rhetoric, or grammar in his argumentation). He carried this fight onto the Latin Classical Education Yahoo! Group where, as far as I know, the archives still contain his declarations referred to above by Tress and read by many others.

 

Ah, so that explains why there was a LONG post on legalities of corporal punishment. So I guess your points were addressed. I didn't follow the argument to the yahoo group and I didn't see the abusive posts that you are referring to. I was off the boards and came back only to find Drew gone.

 

There was a woman who told Mr. Michael that he could have his strap as she had no need for it in her family and he was fine with that. No rude comebacks or whatever.

 

 

Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to say that Mr. Michael *is* educated enough to do this on his own, just that he *presents* himself that way. I definitely agree that, for better or worse, CLAA is a one-man show.

 

True. I think that most new enterprises start off that way, the dream and passion of a single person. Don't you think SL was viewed as a one-family show for awhile until it grew? If CLAA grows, it will probably not be viewed as Mr. Michael the way Focus on the Family is now not just a Dr. Dobson thing.

 

I've tried a whole bunch of other curriculum like all you guys: Catholic stuff and non Catholic stuff, classical and not classical. The CLAA Catechism is the only one which has put it together in a manner that I understand and that my kids can understand. Same thing with Grammar and Classical Vocabulary. We've tried Faith in Life, Prima Latina, Spelling Workout, English from the Roots Up, Explore the Code, the Baltimore Catechism booklets, SL LA, SL Bible Study, Pfflaum, Horizons Spelling, Horizons Phonics, Phonic Pathways, and it was never quite right.

 

The CLAA lessons are written in a manner that is not degrading to children. Children are addressed as thinking individuals. It's not like CLAA kids are learning crap, you know? With some of the other programs there have been times when I've stopped my kids mid-lesson and said, "That's crap!" or "This is stupid, we are skipping this".

 

I am not aware of any cult of personality within CLAA. CLAA is not leading me to be faithful to Mr. Michael, it's leading me to be more faithful and obedient to the Church. That's the best thing I can say about any program.

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I am not aware that a Catholic homeschool program must obtain permission from the ordinary to operate as Catholic homeschool program. I am sure that not all the ones currently in operation have such a designation.

 

I also don't believe that the CLAA calls itself "Jesuit". Yes, the Ratio is certainly an influence, but the curriculum is not a replica. And as a whole, the Jesuit order has sadly fallen far from their glorious past, and I would definitely not entrust my child's education to a Jesuit institution today.

 

Really I would not trust my child's education to someone with no regard for myself as the primary teacher, disciplinarian and authority on how my home is managed. Furthermore, The Jesuits are not nearly as monlithic as it might seem and the priests who taught me did so well and thoroughly in conformity with church teaching. Well enough that I can confidently state that the course in ethics is sorely lacking on its face. [/i]

[The CLAA does work closely with the Missionaries of the Poor and Mr. Michael is involved in teaching and developing programs for the brothers, as well as developing a school program for missionary children that will be available free of charge to children served by the Missionaries of the Poor all over the world. Father Richard Ho Lung, the founder of the MOP, is himself a former Jesuit, and I can't imagine he would allow someone who was teaching things contrary to the Faith to play such a large role in developing educational programs for his order.

 

The CLAA also has two professors from the highly regarded St. Charles Borromeo Seminary writing courses for program. Again, I find it difficult that they would associate themselves with a program that was counter to the Faith.

 

Certainly, Mr. Michael is a polarizing figure and the CLAA is not for everyone. He has strong beliefs and challenges you to think about many things in an entirely different way. The discipline thread which is so controversial needs to be read in its entirety and understood in the context of the greater discussion. There have been many comments by Mr. Michael which taken by themselves would be troubling, but then looked at in the light of the whole conversation or conversations, make sense. Do I agree with everything he says, no. There aren't many people I agree with completely, but I don't disregard everything else they say. Do you have to agree with everything Mr. Michael says or believes to use the CLAA? No. Is it a perfect program? No. But neither is anything else I've used in my 15 plus years of homeschooling.

 

I encourage those who are interested in the CLAA to go to the website and explore it for yourself. Mr. Michael is upfront about what he is doing and if you don't agree with him or his program, that's fine, it's not for everyone. But if you are searching for a truly classical program, you may be surprised to see what the CLAA offers.

 

Again it is fascinating that in promoting his agenda, and he does have one, his main tactic is to denigrate Kolbe, Seton, MODG, and many other programs that have long served Catholic families well and graciously. It is interesting to note that other curricula providers are pleased to recognize, respect and integrate other programs when it suits the students needs. That takes a great deal of humility, grace and intelligence. The" my way or the highway," attitude strikes me as intellectually bankrupt and more than a bit lacking in humility.

Edited by elizabeth
typo again and again
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Again it is fascinating that in promoting his agenda, and he does have one, his main tactic is to denigrate Kolbe, Seton, MODG, and many other programs that have long served Catholic families well and graciously. It is interesting to note that other curricula providers are pleased to recognize, respect and integrate other programs when it suits the students needs. That takes a great deal of humility, grace and intelligence. The" my way or the highway," attitude strikes me as intellectually bankrupt and more than a bit lacking in humility.

 

He is just pointing out that their (other Catholic programs calling their curriculums) "classical" way is...not that classical as you might think. But first you would have to define "classical liberal arts education", and his claim is that the Catholic classical liberal education as known and proven historically before, is not what we see in the other programs.

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Again it is fascinating that in promoting his agenda, and he does have one, his main tactic is to denigrate Kolbe, Seton, MODG, and many other programs that have long served Catholic families well and graciously. It is interesting to note that other curricula providers are pleased to recognize, respect and integrate other programs when it suits the students needs. That takes a great deal of humility, grace and intelligence. The" my way or the highway," attitude strikes me as intellectually bankrupt and more than a bit lacking in humility.

 

What is MODG? Can you recommend any of the ones you listed? I appreciate your help:)

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Or you could look at it this way. Other programs are interesting in being successful businesses and in keeping customers and thus are more interested in telling you what you want to hear and providing gracious customer service. William Michael is not interested in those goals personally or for the CLAA. "Intellectually bankrupt?" That is laughable. He does criticize other programs but only because they claim to be "classical education" which now I think it is obvious they are not.

 

Again it is fascinating that in promoting his agenda, and he does have one, his main tactic is to denigrate Kolbe, Seton, MODG, and many other programs that have long served Catholic families well and graciously. It is interesting to note that other curricula providers are pleased to recognize, respect and integrate other programs when it suits the students needs. That takes a great deal of humility, grace and intelligence. The" my way or the highway," attitude strikes me as intellectually bankrupt and more than a bit lacking in humility.

 

Priscilla, MODG = Mother of Divine Grace Catholic homeschool program run by Laura Berquist, author of "Design Your Own Classical Curriculum." HTH

Edited by LeeAnn Balbirona
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He is just pointing out that their (other Catholic programs calling their curriculums) "classical" way is...not that classical as you might think. But first you would have to define "classical liberal arts education", and his claim is that the Catholic classical liberal education as known and proven historically before, is not what we see in the other programs.

 

The irony being that his is not is not as classical as he claims. He is claiming to be returning the Ratio's method of education. To state otherwise is to then question what Catholic classical education is he returning to that no one else is? There isn't one.

 

Homeschooling parent, online classes, non-master overseer-----none of them reflect the Ratio. The Ratio is VERY specific. If you read it, it defines explicitly the rules for the school and the close supervision of teachers. The key method of education was the interaction between the highly trained teacher and the students (not unlike what Augustine describes in Confessions: compositions, discussions, disputations, and contests.) It is impossible to replicate this educational system in a homeschool or through online classes. It is impossible to do it w/o the teacher and a class of interacting students (including peer evaluations)

 

That leaves pursuing the academic agenda w/o the foundation upon which that academic agenda was built. To claim that no school is authentically teaching Catholic classical education and that his alone is.....it is to deny the very flaws within his structure. It is intellectually dishonest.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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...I can see it in the conjunction of the following: Mr. Michael asserts that modern education is wretched, and classical education is vastly superior. But the majority of hs'ers seeking a classical ed for our kids didn't have a classical education, and Mr. Michael is very firm that you can't teach what you don't know (true enough). Not only that, without a classical education, you are incapable of using available resources (individually written by classically trained experts) to put together a classical course of study. This is because, without knowledge of where you are going, you are incapable of getting there (reasonable). In effect, you can't even properly evaluate whether something qualifies as genuine classical education without having had one yourself (it would be hard to evaluate the claims of a physicist about quantum theory without a high level of physics knowledge).

 

But this means that we non-classically educated parents are not qualified to question Mr. Michael's interpretation of classical education. We just have to take his word for it.

 

And since a proper education addresses the fundamental principles underlying all aspects of life, it ends up that we really aren't qualified to question Mr. Michael on much of anything. I mean, sure, we can *ask*, and see what he has to say, but if we disagree, if we can't follow his logic, well, it's just because we aren't as well educated. The thing is, he has a point - he has much more training in logic than I do, and that training makes a difference. And he makes a big deal that if you don't like it, just leave. But the implicit (and sometimes explicit) message is that those who leave are rejecting the truth for something lesser. They "just can't handle the truth".

 

Basically, CLAA says that we hs'ing parents (most of whom are women) are just not qualified to give a truly superior education to our kids - we just aren't well educated enough. But Mr. Michael *is* well enough educated - thus CLAA. The comparative education levels of Mr. Michael and CLAA parents creates a power imbalance, one that Mr. Michael seems to largely try to reinforce rather than try to diminish. That certainly is a situation ripe for abuse, even if done unintentionally.

 

There have been some great posts here that deserve careful attention from both sides, especially the opposing side, but the one above really hit it right on the nail for me (though I disagree that his tone is understandable--I think there is no justification for it). Well said! It's what I've thought vaguely but haven't had the words to say.

 

I also wanted to comment on the post by the person who gave the numbers of happy families and who said that the withdrawals happened early on. When we were enrolled, I heard this same comment from Mr. Michael several times--that the enrolled families were many and were very happy. That just isn't really accurate, though perhaps most are. There is no way, of course, to know how many people are truly happy, but I can attest to the fact that there are at least a handful of people who are enrolled but are very uncomfortable. And chances are that there are more. Some people are like I was, sticking it out "for now" because their student is doing well and/or is happy with CLAA. But they are decidedly not happy and aren't sure when or how to pull the plug.

 

Second, we did not withdraw early on. We were with CLAA for quite awhile before we withdrew; yet, I wasn't comfortable with the program from the first lesson, because we had a problem with the first exam and Mr. M was unnecessarily tart and unjustly accusatory. Starting off on a bad note wasn't good, obviously, but I decided I had to give the program a chance and stay out of his way as much as possible.

 

We had a period where things were going pretty well, but this was short-lived. Most of the time I just felt I wanted out. A lot of things about it just didn't feel right to me--the harsh, twilight-zone atmosphere of the forum, the drill method without concern for understanding, the insanely difficult tests where sometimes questions would be on material not covered in the lessons and they just had to get the answer by trial and error, the occasional catechism lessons and test questions that I felt were faulty, the reluctance to ask for help for fear of being scolded or put off, the things other people told me about the program and WM's background (such as what Mr. Cain wrote in his 10-page document).

 

There was just too much to make me nervous. I was continually anxious, rattled, upset, and uptight. It was poisonous for me, and my children's progress was incredibly slow, something I heard others struggled with, too. Finally, we left and I am soooo glad. I guess it is good for some people, and I hope they get the kind of education they are after, the kind that I was after, too. I am sure I'll feel badly when I see great results from graduates of the program someday, because I want it for my kids. But it just wasn't right for us from day 1, so we're moving on. And doing quite well, too!

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The irony being that his is not is not as classical as he claims. He is claiming to be returning the Ratio's method of education.

 

 

Can someone point me to where Mr. Michael claims to be restoring the Ratio? I do not question the influence of the Jesuit method of education on the CLAA, but I am missing where it claims to be the restoration of the Ratio Studiorum. I have read through many articles on the website, the course descriptions and many threads in the family forum and I just don't see where he makes this statement. If he is restoring the Ratio, then why does he use the Baltimore Catechism of 1885 for the catechism course? According to the Ratio "Christian doctrine was studied mainly from

the catechism of St. Peter Canisius in Germany or that of St. Robert Bellarmine, both of which had been translated into many languages."

 

I don't deny that Mr. Michael should be more charitable and humble in his criticism of other Catholic programs. The long time providers like Seton, Kolbe and MODG have been of undeniable service to countless families through the years. To make a blanket criticism and the harsh dismissal of them and the good they have done and continue to do, is unkind and I believe unfair. I do not agree with Mr. Michael on this point, but I also think it is unfair to accuse him of claims he has not made and make blanket assumptions about the CLAA based on snippets of forum discussions or on hearsay from various forums and blogs.

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I do not agree with Mr. Michael on this point, but I also think it is unfair to accuse him of claims he has not made and make blanket assumptions about the CLAA based on snippets of forum discussions or on hearsay from various forums and blogs.

 

I would agree with you, but let's make sure you are not including the above posters who are basing their statements on actual correspondence with Mr. Michael, actual experience with the classes, actually reading his own words on his own forums*, and actually witnessing the awful discussion on the Yahoo group.

 

* Just a shout out here to SWB who makes these forums a lovely place, even for her detractors.

 

EDITED to ADD: Ave Maria- I see that you joined today and all your posts are on this thread. I think perhaps you likely have more at stake with this discussion than I do so I do apologize if I came across as anti-you. I just bristled at the implication that my fellow posters were basing their statements on hearsay. I have experienced their personal correspondence as well as followed their many posts for years now and did not feel easy about standing by when they were so easily dismissed.

Edited by happygrrl
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There have been some great posts here that deserve careful attention from both sides, especially the opposing side, but the one above really hit it right on the nail for me (though I disagree that his tone is understandable--I think there is no justification for it). Well said! It's what I've thought vaguely but haven't had the words to say.

 

I also wanted to comment on the post by the person who gave the numbers of happy families and who said that the withdrawals happened early on. When we were enrolled, I heard this same comment from Mr. Michael several times--that the enrolled families were many and were very happy. That just isn't really accurate, though perhaps most are. There is no way, of course, to know how many people are truly happy, but I can attest to the fact that there are at least a handful of people who are enrolled but are very uncomfortable. And chances are that there are more. Some people are like I was, sticking it out "for now" because their student is doing well and/or is happy with CLAA. But they are decidedly not happy and aren't sure when or how to pull the plug.

 

Second, we did not withdraw early on. We were with CLAA for quite awhile before we withdrew; yet, I wasn't comfortable with the program from the first lesson, because we had a problem with the first exam and Mr. M was unnecessarily tart and unjustly accusatory. Starting off on a bad note wasn't good, obviously, but I decided I had to give the program a chance and stay out of his way as much as possible.

 

We had a period where things were going pretty well, but this was short-lived. Most of the time I just felt I wanted out. A lot of things about it just didn't feel right to me--the harsh, twilight-zone atmosphere of the forum, the drill method without concern for understanding, the insanely difficult tests where sometimes questions would be on material not covered in the lessons and they just had to get the answer by trial and error, the occasional catechism lessons and test questions that I felt were faulty, the reluctance to ask for help for fear of being scolded or put off, the things other people told me about the program and WM's background (such as what Mr. Cain wrote in his 10-page document).

 

There was just too much to make me nervous. I was continually anxious, rattled, upset, and uptight. It was poisonous for me, and my children's progress was incredibly slow, something I heard others struggled with, too. Finally, we left and I am soooo glad. I guess it is good for some people, and I hope they get the kind of education they are after, the kind that I was after, too. I am sure I'll feel badly when I see great results from graduates of the program someday, because I want it for my kids. But it just wasn't right for us from day 1, so we're moving on. And doing quite well, too!

 

1. especially the opposing side

 

Since when the opposing side of ...what 5-10-15 families that couldn't make it work for them are the voice that needs to be heard over 200+ families that are working hard and it is working for them?

 

2. There is no way, of course, to know how many people are truly happy

 

You can find out easily. You can post an unanimous poll on the CLAA forum and find out within few days.

 

3. We were with CLAA for quite awhile before we withdrew

 

Which courses did your children take and how far in the lesson did you get? I doubt you got further than the first few. There is an "adjustment" period fro every kids starting these courses, as they are quite demanding. You will not see results until you stick for at least 6 months - and that's my opinion.

 

4. the harsh, twilight-zone atmosphere of the forum,

 

?????:001_huh:

 

5. my children's progress was incredibly slow

 

Most of the kids progress very slowly at the beginning. It is expected as this is not for a faint hearted parents or kids.

The reasons for your slow progress does not say nothing about the program, right?

 

I am constantly surprised how people form their opinions based on the few "dislikes" than on hundreds of the "likes" (It seems that these are the same persons going around other forums and saying the same stuff, like it became their mission to discredit the CLAA). Someone asks for an opinion and then has to listen to 10 dissatisfied people, who did not even try this program long enough, or did not make changes to accommodate it, and then are upset and pretend to be experts on something they have no clue about. Wouldn't it help if they would hear those who are succeeding first? Well...these people are not here...they are on the CLAA forum or working hard. Therefore...if you are REALLY interested - go there first.

 

Blessings.

Edited by iwka
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The irony being that his is not is not as classical as he claims. He is claiming to be returning the Ratio's method of education.

 

Go on the website, do a search for "Ratio Studiorum". It pops up only few times. The two important mentions are:

 

1. Methaphysic course:

Note: This course will not be offered until at least 2010 and is organized strictly according to the content of the same course in the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum of 1599.

 

In the third year of Philosophy students continue their path through natural science to the study of the supernatural. We read Aristotle's second book On Generation, the books On the Soul, and the Metaphysics. One of the most beneficial parts of this study is the survey students receive of the opinions of the ancient philosophers that are discussed in the first book On the Soul and in the Metaphysics.

 

2. Grammar course:

Our Grammar lessons rely on several timeless texts. The first is the Introduction to Grammar by Emmanuel Alvarez, S.J., used for centuries by Jesuit academies and recommended by the Ratio Studiorum of 1599. The second is Father Jacob Pontanus' Progymnasmatum Latinitatis. Third is Lily's Grammar, which was the royal Grammar, used in England by nearly every English student between 1550 and 1700--including John Milton, William Shakespeare. The third is Camden's Greek Grammar, which employed the same system as the Latin Grammars for the efficient teaching of Greek. Readings are original texts from the New Testament, Cicero, Caesar and the Church Fathers. No fluff.
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Can someone point me to where Mr. Michael claims to be restoring the Ratio? I do not question the influence of the Jesuit method of education on the CLAA, but I am missing where it claims to be the restoration of the Ratio Studiorum..

 

If you want a negative answer to his trying to emulate the Ratio, that leaves you dependent upon a single man's view and interpretation of classical education and its role within Catholic education.

 

His condemnation of other classical schools such as Kolbe is that they are not authentic classical education. W/o the Ratio, you are completely dependent upon his word that his is.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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First, I am new to this forum, and yes, this is the only thread I have read. And, furthermore, I was drawn here because William Michael and CLAA are being critiqued and I am interested to see in what way.

 

I am the father of a child enrolled in CLAA, I am taking a few CLAA courses myself, including the Praeceptor Course, and I spent a week with William and other CLAA dads helping the Missionaries of the Poor in the Kingston, Jamaica ghetto.

 

My experience with CLAA has been a great one. Of course, I am not one to equate "charity" with "niceness", so I do not have a problem William's occassional "harsh" tone or "spare not the rod" practice. I see "niceness" allowing people to sin everyday. And if spanking is illegal by state law, abortion is not, so I need a better reason not spank than simply "it's illegal" or "legal". The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #2223) still allows wise use of physical discipline. This is simply what I believe.

 

My concern is with the content of the educational material. I want my children to be educated with a curriculum and method at least similar to the Ratio Studiorum and no other widely available program seems to come close. It's like it has been completely abandoned by these Catholic homeschool programs. Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy...what other present-day school actually teaches these as subjects, not stages of development? (I'm not looking for "guidebooks" or "curriculum recommendations") If you know of one, or if know that CLAA's content is wrong, please let me know. I'm just a lowly pharmacist trying get a real education for my children (and myself).

 

In Christ,

 

Donnie

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Hmm I certainly do not want to equate charity with niceness so I will be frank. I am of the opinion that it is unsavory and ill mannered to come on to a message board paid for and maintained by an owner/author to promote, explain and permit readers of the texts she has written and debate endlessly the merits of a completely different program and its purveyor .

Insofar as the subjects being taught as such rather than mere labels of academic development had you read The Well Trained Mind it would be obvious to you that all these subjects are encouraged as part of the overall program but I digress.

And if spanking is illegal by state law, abortion is not, so I need a better reason not spank than simply "it's illegal" or "legal". The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #2223) still allows wise use of physical discipline. This is simply what I believe.

So....let me understand that you are suggesting that the way to combat the violence and disregard for natural law with the problem of abortion is with more violence and ignoring your own conscience where the church has not spoken definitively on the issue of corporal punishment ?

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My concern is with the content of the educational material. I want my children to be educated with a curriculum and method at least similar to the Ratio Studiorum and no other widely available program seems to come close. It's like it has been completely abandoned by these Catholic homeschool programs. Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy...what other present-day school actually teaches these as subjects, not stages of development? (I'm not looking for "guidebooks" or "curriculum recommendations") If you know of one, or if know that CLAA's content is wrong, please let me know. I'm just a lowly pharmacist trying get a real education for my children (and myself).

 

 

:bigear:

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http://www.edocere.org/articles/jesuit_model_education.htm A really concise article that outlines the Ratio Studiorum that CLAA purports to embrace and replicate in some fashion. A cursory reading reveals that in terms of subject matter alone CLAA does not ascribe to the model created by the Jesuits. Specifically refer to the paragraphs regarding humane letters, a far cry from the coursework as outlined on the site..

 

I read the article and found it informative. But I failed to see anything contradictory to the course material of the CLAA. I didn't see any mention of humane letters, although I don't quite understand what that means so it may have just flown over my head.

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