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Does anyone else think Classical Conversations is neither?


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This is our first year, and now as we reach the halfway point, I've decided we will not be returning in January. I'm not saying it has no value, but I have concluded that it is neither classical nor a conversation, at least at the Foundations and Essentials levels. I found this blog post which sums up a lot of what I've been struggling with, so I shared it on my Facebook page, and someone gave a partial rebuttal in the comments, to which I responded this (which kind of nutshells my issues with it):

 

I beg to differ about Essentials - I started out as a tutor and quit after three weeks because it was so counterintuitive to my literary/writerly self! Both programs (EEL & IEW) were created and/or implemented by technically minded (rather than language oriented) people - an engineer (Leigh Bortins) and Suzuki violin teacher (Andrew Pudewa). I was tearing my hair out trying to wrap my brain around their systems, formulas, overinflated (particularly EEL) approaches to grammar and writing. The end all be all to classical education is not memorization! I actually am beginning to think that CC gives classical education a bad name, because of what it's reduced it to. I wish Susan Wise Bauer would weigh in on what she thinks of CC. Context and memorization go hand in hand. They do not need to be divorced from each other. And I think that those who try to marry them by doing CC and then basing their curriculum on it at home are going to have big gaps in history and disjointed approaches to the other subjects. As for Challenge, my 11 year-old is already ahead of where she would begin in A with literature, history, latin, and logic. Not to mention that we would have to dump the Well Trained Mind history and science cycles to do Challenge, since they are not at all followed, which to me means that it's not actually classical. I won't even go into the mistakes in the curriculum or how there is never any "time" to discuss context in class or creative ideas to approaching the memorization. I also dislike how they drill classical Latin pronunciation - we have been using Memoria Press Latin which uses an ecclesiastical pronunciation, so that is confusing for my kids, as they are forced to say it differently in class than at home (and for my son, who hasn't started Latin yet, will have to unlearn it).

 

(I also had blogged this after our first month).

 

Has anyone else thought of the Emperor's New Clothes when it comes to CC as classical education?  Editing to say that what I mean is that is it possible that its value has been exaggerated, while its flaws have been overlooked? (see further replies from me in this thread for elaboration)

 

 

 

 

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I think it's a fad.I have mostly not very good opinions about it that I keep to myself so as not to offend those who are involved and love it, or those who try it out for a year or two because it's the current fad. My opinions mostly hinge on the thought that CC seems more about being a money-making business than it is about educating children. It's kind of the opposite of what homeschooling is to me; I appreciate the ability to individualize education rather than a one size fits all approach. It's not going to hurt anybody, but it wouldn't be good use of my family's time or money.

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Just like anything else related to homeschooling, it is a great fit for some and not a good fit for others.  That doesn't make it bad or of no value or akin to The Emperor's New Clothing.  That are many well loved curricula and approaches that are not a fit for my family, but that doesn't make those things inherently wrong.

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We are CC dropouts:0  I think it is way overrated and the days were sooo long. We also did Essentials and, while there are aspects of EEL I appreciate, I think its implementation is confusing and overwhelming.

 

All in all, I think the focus on rote memorization as the end all and be all does not work for us. I do like some of the memory work and incorporate the timeline and some history memory songs as we cover them in history. 

 

I'll probably have some more thoughts after I read your links:)

 

Beck

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This is our first year, and now as we reach the halfway point, I've decided we will not be returning in January. I'm not saying it has no value, but I have concluded that it is neither classical nor a conversation, at least at the Foundations and Essentials levels. I found this blog post which sums up a lot of what I've been struggling with, so I shared it on my Facebook page, and someone gave a partial rebuttal in the comments, to which I responded this (which kind of nutshells my issues with it):

 

I beg to differ about Essentials - I started out as a tutor and quit after three weeks because it was so counterintuitive to my literary/writerly self! Both programs (EEL & IEW) were created and/or implemented by technically minded (rather than language oriented) people - an engineer (Leigh Bortins) and Suzuki violin teacher (Andrew Pudewa). I was tearing my hair out trying to wrap my brain around their systems, formulas, overinflated (particularly EEL) approaches to grammar and writing. The end all be all to classical education is not memorization! I actually am beginning to think that CC gives classical education a bad name, because of what it's reduced it to. I wish Susan Wise Bauer would weigh in on what she thinks of CC. Context and memorization go hand in hand. They do not need to be divorced from each other. And I think that those who try to marry them by doing CC and then basing their curriculum on it at home are going to have big gaps in history and disjointed approaches to the other subjects. As for Challenge, my 11 year-old is already ahead of where she would begin in A with literature, history, latin, and logic. Not to mention that we would have to dump the Well Trained Mind history and science cycles to do Challenge, since they are not at all followed, which to me means that it's not actually classical. I won't even go into the mistakes in the curriculum or how there is never any "time" to discuss context in class or creative ideas to approaching the memorization. And how it's weird that they drill classical Latin pronunciation (sounds terrible) when at the Challenge level, they use Henle, which uses ecclesiastical Latin.

 

(I also had blogged this after our first month).

 

Has anyone else thought of the Emperor's New Clothes when it comes to CC as classical education?  

 

 

Well, many people would argue that a history and/or science cycle isn't the foundation of a classical education. 

 

Also, simply because one might be more technically minded, doesn't automatically mean that their language programs are invalid.  I'm sorry that they didn't work for you, but to discount them because the authors aren't as "literary" as you is kind of harsh.

 

 

Just like anything else related to homeschooling, it is a great fit for some and not a good fit for others.  That doesn't make it bad or of no value or akin to The Emperor's New Clothing.  That are many well loved curricula and approaches that are not a fit for my family, but that doesn't make those things inherently wrong.

 

:iagree:

 

I've never done CC, and I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but it seems more like a philosophical/personality difference than something akin to The Emperor's New Clothing.

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Thanks for the "likes" and supportive comments, as well as other perspectives. I said "Emperor's New Clothes" because it seems like it's taboo to criticize CC, and I intuit that there is an element of people drinking the koolaid, so to speak. Also I think a more technical/formulaic approach to language does work better for people who aren't as language oriented - particularly IEW - I saw more value in that than EEL, which reminded me of our Latin curriculum - I much prefer the FLL approach to grammar. It was just ironic that it lost me in the one area where I am confidently competent. And I really tried to "get it"!  My daughter was totally able to do both programs, but I worried that it would stilt her writing (also did some research on that, so I'm not alone in thinking that), and use up too much of our time on grammar, which she already gets so well (thanks in large part to FLL). WWE has been a mixed bag for us - didn't actually use it much with my oldest, but she is able to do WWS (which I switched her back to, along with R&S for grammar, when we quit Essentials), works well with my youngest so far, but my middle child has struggled (she is the most creative, right brained of the bunch so far, but a year ahead in everything except writing), so we just switched to Writing with Rhetoric (from CAP), which she loves.

 

The hard part about quitting is that my kids like it - they are good at it (my oldest has the memory of a steel trap, while my younger two enjoy the singing & hand motions), they do the work at home nearly autonomously, and they enjoy the group setting. If I didn't have to sit through the classes with them (except for presentations - my favorite part), I'd be tempted to let them finish the year, but the angst I experience each week just tells me it's not healthy to continue.

 

We have always been part of a co-op, since shortly after beginning to homeschool four years ago, so they are used to having a group learning experience one day a week. This has always put time pressure on us, because we don't have any wiggle room during the week, so I don't feel as free to go on field trips (though we do from time to time) or have spontaneous get togethers or other non-structured activities. I've been curious what it would be like to have another day each week, so I'm going to see how that goes for this next "semester."

 

Meanwhile, though, I've been reflecting on what what I think would be the best way for kids to learn together, and I've come up with an idea that I'm calling Gameschooling. We would spend the morning playing educational board games (groups based on age, with an adult playing or overseeing each group), probably rotating through several subjects/games each time, then have lunch together, followed by an outdoor activity like capture the flag, a nature scavenger hunt, a sport, or another form of exercise or nature study. I'm hoping to "beta test" this in January, probably doing it once a month through the spring. If it goes well, it could become a weekly or bi-weekly co-op, maybe even adding in hands-on activities alternating that with games. 

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Meanwhile, though, I've been reflecting on what what I think would be the best way for kids to learn together, and I've come up with an idea that I'm calling Gameschooling. We would spend the morning playing educational board games (groups based on age, with an adult playing or overseeing each group), probably rotating through several subjects/games each time, then have lunch together, followed by an outdoor activity like capture the flag, a nature scavenger hunt, or a sport, or another form of exercise or nature study. I'm hoping to "beta test" this in January, probably doing it once a month through the spring. If it goes well, it could become a weekly or bi-weekly co-op, maybe even adding in hands-on activities alternating that with games. 

 

This is brilliant!  My kids LOVE games, and would spend hours playing them with friends.  This would be a great way to combine group setting, games, and learning.  I would love to start something like this too.  We tried CC in the past too but we stopped after the expense got prohibitive and to tell the truth, I'm unsure about the value of memorizing lists without context.  But we miss the group setting and learning together.  Please let us know how Gameschooling goes.

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I agree that CC is not a good program for people who are only doing "rote" memory work without teaching context and background.  I would counsel those sorts of people not to waste time and money on CC, though their kids may actually benefit anyway.  Research shows that some rote memorization can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but generally it is most effective if a student memorizes information which he understands. 

 

My kids started CC this year.  In the afternoon following our CC morning (we do not do Essentials), I go over all of the new material with my kids, especially the background of the history timeline and history sentence.  I lecture, and the kids take notes. 

 

The value of learning a large volume of facts in younger years is well documented by good, solid research.  Whether or not anyone would call it "classical" is certainly debatable, though students used to do a tremendous amount of memorization and recitation in schools around 1900 (when many schools employed a classical type of philosophy).  If you would like a straightforward, excellent book to read on this subject, then read Hirsch's The Knowledge Deficit.

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Our family started CC this year and so far I think it is an excellent program. For my kids, the memorization is a jumping off point for interesting conversations. My 5 yr old is constantly asking me questions about his history sentences. Today he insisted I find out how many wars France has won and lost. This is a kid that has some language challenges, but loves stories and info.

 

I am not sure how CC could not be considered classical. I have read and used TWTM for many years and I think I understand the stages well. During the grammar stage children memorize large amounts of information and learn basic skills. During the argumentative stage, they start to ask how and why. They explore the answers and make connections. In the rhetoric stage the student is able to argue, articulate, and implement knowledge and skills. That is the focus of the CC levels.

 

I teach Essentials and I can see grammar stage and argumentative stage. The way I run the classroom is through conversation and involvement of the students and parents. The first several weeks were ridiculously involved, that is for sure. And I do not agree with the way everything is presented, but I do see the value in the structure and am impressed with the depth of thought that has gone into coordinating the program.

 

As far as IEW, I read Susan's review on it years ago and was determined not to use it because of the formulaic nature. And truth be told, I'm glad my creative writer will only be in there one year. That is just long enough for a strong writer to benefit from the instruction without stifling him, at least my boy. Now my next child will need lots of hand holding as writing does not come naturally, so I think it will benefit her long term.

 

I am baffled as to how CC would not fall into the classical camp. For me it works because it forces me to be organized and do daily work. After 14 years of homeschooling I needed that. Plus, CC presents fine art lessons as well as science experiments. Those are areas I wasn't hitting well at home, so I appreciate the weekly activity.

 

I wonder if it depends on the campus and the training given. I try to stay true to the CC materials, but as a tutor I tailor my instruction to my students. We have fun and we talk about what we are doing. In the foundations science experiments, children are encouraged to interact with the teacher as well.

 

I'm sorry your experience hasn't been a good one and I certainly understand that every family has a different style. I am rather skeptical about the business and Christian perspective going hand in hand, so I will be watching that aspect closely. As a tutor, I must say I appreciate being paid for all of the work I do.

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Thanks for the "likes" and supportive comments, as well as other perspectives. I said "Emperor's New Clothes" because it seems like it's taboo to criticize CC, and I intuit that there is an element of people drinking the koolaid, so to speak. Also I think a more technical/formulaic approach to language does work better for people who aren't as language oriented - particularly IEW - I saw more value in that than EEL, which reminded me of our Latin curriculum - I much prefer the FLL approach to grammar. It was just ironic that it lost me in the one area where I am confidently competent. And I really tried to "get it"! My daughter was totally able to do both programs, but I worried that it would stilt her writing (also did some research on that, so I'm not alone in thinking that), and use up too much of our time on grammar, which she already gets so well (thanks in large part to FLL). WWE has been a mixed bag for us - didn't actually use it much with my oldest, but she is able to do WWS (which I switched her back to, along with R&S for grammar, when we quit Essentials), works well with my youngest so far, but my middle child has struggled (she is the most creative, right brained of the bunch so far, but a year ahead in everything except writing), so we just switched to Writing with Rhetoric (from CAP), which she loves.

 

The hard part about quitting is that my kids like it - they are good at it (my oldest has the memory of a steel trap, while my younger two enjoy the singing & hand motions), they do the work at home nearly autonomously, and they enjoy the group setting. If I didn't have to sit through the classes with them (except for presentations - my favorite part), I'd be tempted to let them finish the year, but the angst I experience each week just tells me it's not healthy to continue.

 

We have always been part of a co-op, since shortly after beginning to homeschool four years ago, so they are used to having a group learning experience one day a week. This has always put time pressure on us, because we don't have any wiggle room during the week, so I don't feel as free to go on field trips (though we do from time to time) or have spontaneous get togethers or other non-structured activities. I've been curious what it would be like to have another day each week, so I'm going to see how that goes for this next "semester."

 

Meanwhile, though, I've been reflecting on what what I think would be the best way for kids to learn together, and I've come up with an idea that I'm calling Gameschooling. We would spend the morning playing educational board games (groups based on age, with an adult playing or overseeing each group), probably rotating through several subjects/games each time, then have lunch together, followed by an outdoor activity like capture the flag, a nature scavenger hunt, a sport, or another form of exercise or nature study. I'm hoping to "beta test" this in January, probably doing it once a month through the spring. If it goes well, it could become a weekly or bi-weekly co-op, maybe even adding in hands-on activities alternating that with games.

That sounds fun but why group by age? Isn't that one of the more irritating things about schools?

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I think the CC model is completely classical, especially in the Foundations level. The rote memory work isn't to be expounded on in the early years, just memorized. (I've heard rumors that there are "masters foundations classes" with 11 or 12 year olds who do begin to dig deeper into the memory work since that age is already in the dialectic stage.)

That said, the Foundations Memory Master approach to learning seems to be forced and encouraged highly and for students, like my boys, who enjoyed going to CC, doing some of the memory work, and having fun with their friends, the challenge to win a tshirt if they memorized everything with 100% accuracy just wasn't there for them. i didn't like the memory masters challenge aspect of Foundations, and we do not participate in the Foundations part of our campus.

I am an Essentials tutor, and LOVE the EEL part but hate the IEW approach to writing. I love to write creatively and I think IEW is too constrictive. I've heard parents who don't like to write, and who have kids who don't like to write, say that's why they love IEW: it helps their child know what to write. My Essentials child doesn't like to write, and I don't want him to learn to write the IEW way...I'm thinking of doing WWE with him next year even though I'll still be tutoring Essentials.

So I am not a drinker of the koolaid: I'm not 100% on board with the greatness of the program, but I do like enough aspects of it to continue with them while we are in the Essentials stage.

I'm hesitant about the Challenge program because it is very closed-minded about Creation. The program seems to be full of anti-evolution material (based on the books in the curriculum that you can see in their catalog), which I refuse to teach to my kids.

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I'm sorry you did not have a good experience in your community.  

 

I would like to address the "memorizing out of context" issue.  The way we approach our CC memory work at home is to dig into the history sentence and science each week.  CC provides us with the "bones" and then we put the "meat" on that skeleton throughout the year.  We can do as much or as little as we want for each subject.  

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This is our third and last year in the Classical Conversations program, so I can see the parts that are great and those that are not so great.  I would just like to talk about memorizing out of context for a minute and to give an example of how this has benefitted us.  We are a family that has gone about our business as far as school goes without much CC integration.  We memorize completely out of context, and this has paid off in a lot of ways.  One example that is going on as we speak....My daughter is learning about cells in BJU Science 6.  She has memorized the parts of the animal and plant cells last year in CC, so she is ahead of the game here.  This is not a perfect process because sometimes things don't match up (additional cell parts, for example), but for the most part, she already has this committed to memory. 

 

The science "experiments" drive me a little batty because they are really demonstrations, so it is difficult to apply the scientific method.  However, CC kids have seen a lot of demonstrations performed which is very "classical" because they will have that experience going forward when they study upper level science.

 

There are a lot of things in the program that I would change if I had the ability, but that is true of almost any curriculum I have used.    

 

I am also hesitant about the challenge  program for many, many reasons.  At this point, I am not planning to enroll.  (For the  OP's statement about Henle--I believe they use the classical pronunciation with this.)

 

We have never participated in the essentials program because it seemed too complicated.  Why re-invent the wheel?  BUT...essentials has been a life saver for those parents who have very little grammar background and are terrified of teaching writing.  Just because it doesn't work for you and me does not mean that it is not worthwhile.  I have had many mothers tell me that now they understand grammar.  

 

I do think the program is classical, but the conversations come later.  This program was originally a high school program (challenge).  (The foundations program was added later.) 

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I agree that CC is not a good program for people who are only doing "rote" memory work without teaching context and background.  I would counsel those sorts of people not to waste time and money on CC, though their kids may actually benefit anyway.  Research shows that some rote memorization can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but generally it is most effective if a student memorizes information which he understands. 

 

My kids started CC this year.  In the afternoon following our CC morning (we do not do Essentials), I go over all of the new material with my kids, especially the background of the history timeline and history sentence.  I lecture, and the kids take notes. 

 

The value of learning a large volume of facts in younger years is well documented by good, solid research.  Whether or not anyone would call it "classical" is certainly debatable, though students used to do a tremendous amount of memorization and recitation in schools around 1900 (when many schools employed a classical type of philosophy).  If you would like a straightforward, excellent book to read on this subject, then read Hirsch's The Knowledge Deficit.

 

In order to add in the context, like you're talking about, I would have to stop reading straight through the Story of the World, because I don't have time to both teach to CC's 3 yr cycle and SOTW/WTM's 4 yr cycle.  If I did that, that would move us too quickly through history - as it is, even on the 4 yr cycle, it can feel rushed. There's no way to adequately cover the the years between history sentences in one week (hence SOTW having 42 chapters versus CC's 24 sentences). My oldest, who has been through the SOTW 4 year cycle once, is the only one who already has the context. Also, because she's at the masters level and there are only four students in her class, her tutor (who also can't help it because of his personality) does tend to flesh out the material a bit, though it's obvious to me that he's holding back due to the constraints of time and the program. 

 

It may be that storing this knowledge for future use works (or at least for some), but for whatever reason, my conscience decries the methodology. The only areas where the memory work makes sense to me are geography, math (but only if the equations are said in their entirety rather than just the answers chanted, which is how it's being done in our classes), and the timeline. Science I'm probably neutral about. 

 

Maybe because FLL and Memoria Press Latin have worked so well for us - where content is married to context (albeit gradually, especially with Latin) - I don't see the value in the language portion of CC. And one thing that really bothered me was when they were playing a review game, and my daughter's team lost because they added "it" to the list of pronouns, since it wasn't on the original CC list. There have been too many cringe worthy incidents like this - from inaccuracies to mispronunciations. The value placed on memorization comes at the expense of meaning and excellence.

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That sounds fun but why group by age? Isn't that one of the more irritating things about schools?

 

The games themselves have age designations. And when I say age, I mean age range.  It's not a hard and fast rule - I'm just in the idea stage. It will also depend on who actually participates. Obviously if we have a smaller group, we'll be flexible. But if you have an 11 year old and a 5 year old playing a strategy game, that's not exactly fair to the younger one or challenging to the older one. 

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My only comment is that I doubt SWB would slam it. She has been the victim of public slamming, and she took the high road. ;)

 

Because of her integrity and ability to articulate so well, I believe she could tactfully give feedback on the pros and cons of CC, or at least on how compatible it is with the Well Trained Mind approach to classical education, much like the articles comparing/contrasting with Charlotte Mason which are on the WTM website. 

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The hard part about quitting is that my kids like it - they are good at it (my oldest has the memory of a steel trap, while my younger two enjoy the singing & hand motions), they do the work at home nearly autonomously, and they enjoy the group setting. If I didn't have to sit through the classes with them (except for presentations - my favorite part), I'd be tempted to let them finish the year, but the angst I experience each week just tells me it's not healthy to continue.

 

The issue might also be the teacher.  Just because it didn't fit  your family doesn't mean that it's not fitting another family somewhere or that another teacher isn't rocking it and turning it into more than what you're seeing.  I'm not a lover of CC myself, but I know it varies with the teacher.

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I think the CC model is completely classical, especially in the Foundations level. The rote memory work isn't to be expounded on in the early years, just memorized. (I've heard rumors that there are "masters foundations classes" with 11 or 12 year olds who do begin to dig deeper into the memory work since that age is already in the dialectic stage.)

That said, the Foundations Memory Master approach to learning seems to be forced and encouraged highly and for students, like my boys, who enjoyed going to CC, doing some of the memory work, and having fun with their friends, the challenge to win a tshirt if they memorized everything with 100% accuracy just wasn't there for them. i didn't like the memory masters challenge aspect of Foundations, and we do not participate in the Foundations part of our campus.

I am an Essentials tutor, and LOVE the EEL part but hate the IEW approach to writing. I love to write creatively and I think IEW is too constrictive. I've heard parents who don't like to write, and who have kids who don't like to write, say that's why they love IEW: it helps their child know what to write. My Essentials child doesn't like to write, and I don't want him to learn to write the IEW way...I'm thinking of doing WWE with him next year even though I'll still be tutoring Essentials.

So I am not a drinker of the koolaid: I'm not 100% on board with the greatness of the program, but I do like enough aspects of it to continue with them while we are in the Essentials stage.

I'm hesitant about the Challenge program because it is very closed-minded about Creation. The program seems to be full of anti-evolution material (based on the books in the curriculum that you can see in their catalog), which I refuse to teach to my kids.

 

The rumors are true for my oldest, who is in the masters class (and has been through the SOTW 4 year cycle once, so she already has the context). It's partly her tutor's personality (I love that he can't help himself!) and that there are only four students in the class…but it's still obvious to me that he's holding back due to the constraints of time and the program. My daughter wanted to do the Memory Master program because she is so good at memorization, but I agree that it adds an element of competition that I don't think is beneficial at the younger ages. 

 

That's interesting that you are split on Essentials. I appreciate that you are thinking critically - that's my biggest issue with some other homeschooling moms - that they don't trust themselves (or they trust themselves too much - maybe I fall into that camp!), so they embrace a particular system (and I've probably been guilty of this somewhat with TWTM) in its entirety simply because it was created by an experienced/education homeschooler and because lots of other people follow that system.

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The issue might also be the teacher.  Just because it didn't fit  your family doesn't mean that it's not fitting another family somewhere or that another teacher isn't rocking it and turning it into more than what you're seeing.  I'm not a lover of CC myself, but I know it varies with the teacher.

 

I do have different reactions to how it's taught in each of my three kids' classes - masters is my favorite because of the tutor, the level below that is my least favorite, and my youngest's class is probably in the middle. Still, the bottom line is that no matter how it's taught, it is limited by the formula. I just don't think drilling memory work and skimming the surface of science/fine arts is the best use of three hours with kids in a group learning setting. 

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I do have different reactions to how it's taught in each of my three kids' classes - masters is my favorite because of the tutor, the level below that is my least favorite, and my youngest's class is probably in the middle. Still, the bottom line is that no matter how it's taught, it is limited by the formula. I just don't think drilling memory work and skimming the surface of science/fine arts is the best use of three hours with kids in a group learning setting. 

 

That's fine if it doesn't work for your kids or your family or that you don't like it, but you sound awfully judgmental of those who have chosen to make the program work for their family.

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I'm sorry you did not have a good experience in your community.  

 

I would like to address the "memorizing out of context" issue.  The way we approach our CC memory work at home is to dig into the history sentence and science each week.  CC provides us with the "bones" and then we put the "meat" on that skeleton throughout the year.  We can do as much or as little as we want for each subject.  

 

I would argue that 24 history sentences is not enough bones, and in order to keep up the pace, important periods in history have to be skipped. SOTW has 42 chapters and we'd have to read several per week to keep up with that pace (as it is, we can barely get through one chapter a week, supplementing it with the complementary materials). And the science jumps all over the place, so I wouldn't find continuity with that either. 

 

Then again, maybe it could work well for those who don't put the same emphasis on history that our family does. I'll blame SWB for that ;)

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That's fine if it doesn't work for your kids or your family or that you don't like it, but you sound awfully judgmental of those who have chosen to make the program work for their family.

 

I am sorry if I came off too strong - it's partly a reaction to the "CC can do no wrong" attitude I've experienced, as if it's immune from criticism, and anyone who questions its methods is labeled a naysayer. I also just get frustrated with the way I see people not thinking for themselves and just following a herd mentality. If we're going to do that, we may as well go back to school.

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This is our third and last year in the Classical Conversations program, so I can see the parts that are great and those that are not so great.  I would just like to talk about memorizing out of context for a minute and to give an example of how this has benefitted us.  We are a family that has gone about our business as far as school goes without much CC integration.  We memorize completely out of context, and this has paid off in a lot of ways.  One example that is going on as we speak....My daughter is learning about cells in BJU Science 6.  She has memorized the parts of the animal and plant cells last year in CC, so she is ahead of the game here.  This is not a perfect process because sometimes things don't match up (additional cell parts, for example), but for the most part, she already has this committed to memory. 

 

The science "experiments" drive me a little batty because they are really demonstrations, so it is difficult to apply the scientific method.  However, CC kids have seen a lot of demonstrations performed which is very "classical" because they will have that experience going forward when they study upper level science.

 

There are a lot of things in the program that I would change if I had the ability, but that is true of almost any curriculum I have used.    

 

I am also hesitant about the challenge  program for many, many reasons.  At this point, I am not planning to enroll.  (For the  OP's statement about Henle--I believe they use the classical pronunciation with this.)

 

We have never participated in the essentials program because it seemed too complicated.  Why re-invent the wheel?  BUT...essentials has been a life saver for those parents who have very little grammar background and are terrified of teaching writing.  Just because it doesn't work for you and me does not mean that it is not worthwhile.  I have had many mothers tell me that now they understand grammar.  

 

I do think the program is classical, but the conversations come later.  This program was originally a high school program (challenge).  (The foundations program was added later.) 

 

See my previous replies to other comments re: context. Though I do think it works better with science than history, so I can see your point there.

 

I researched the pronunciation for Henle again and apparently it can use either type. When I googled it last time, I had read that it uses ecclesiastical, but now it appears that may have been a misunderstanding because a companion CD for the course uses that pronunciation. I will edit my original post to correct that.

 

It is true that no curriculum is perfect, but CC is in the unique position of not actually being a curriculum, but a methodology, and one which is based on a community model. I think that can generate its own set of problems... 

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I am sorry if I came off too strong - it's partly a reaction to the "CC can do no wrong" attitude I've experienced, as if it's immune from criticism, and anyone who questions its methods is labeled a naysayer. I also just get frustrated with the way I see people not thinking for themselves and just following a herd mentality. If we're going to do that, we may as well go back to school.

 

It sounds to me like you're assuming that those who don't disagree with CC haven't thought it through.  Maybe they have thought it through, are not just following the herd but instead are doing something that works for their family, and maybe they just disagree with your conclusions.  

 

For the record, I've seen it criticized about as much as anything else on this board (well, okay--probably not as much as Saxon math, but I've definitely seen it criticized and discussed).

 

Also, I'm not involved with CC and never have been, so I don't even have a dog in the CC fight.

 

 

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It sounds to me like you're assuming that those who don't disagree with CC haven't thought it through.  Maybe they have thought it through, are not just following the herd but instead are doing something that works for their family, and maybe they just disagree with your conclusions.  

 

For the record, I've seen it criticized about as much as anything else on this board (well, okay--probably not as much as Saxon math, but I've definitely seen it criticized and discussed).

 

Also, I'm not involved with CC and never have been, so I don't even have a dog in the CC fight.

 

 

 

I think that because you're not involved with CC may be why you're not experiencing the attitudes that I'm talking about. It's since I joined that I've had an inside view of it. 

 

Also, when I've googled criticisms of CC, they have been very hard to locate, with the exception of a few threads on this forum. The blog post I had linked from my original post was one of the few. I find that a bit suspect.

 

I'm not saying that everyone who is in CC hasn't exercised their critical thinking skills, but being intelligent isn't the same as being independently minded, though one could argue that homeschooling itself is evidence of that. I would say that as homeschooling has become more mainstream, it's not so countercultural, therefore there are a lot of people (particularly those drawn to co-ops, me included) who are more willing to get on board with something because of the community/support aspect, and trusting the experience/judgement of others, particularly if it sounds right and their kids are enjoying it. 

 

And just because something "works" for one's family (it's "working" for all three of my kids) doesn't mean it's objectively valuable, though again, I'm not saying it imparts no value. I would really like to hear from the families who did CC - a full cycle (or three) of Foundations - and how at the dialectic and rhetoric stages, they reaped the fruits of that labor of memorization. I am skeptical that all that time spent on memory work in every subject - divorced from context - is that much of a boon. I would also like to hear from those who completed Challenge after completing Foundations, and how that worked for their students who are now graduated and in college (assuming CC has been around long enough for there to be such people - I don't know).

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I agree with you completely. We did CC for a year, and we stuck it out because we'd paid for it, but we kind of hated it by the end. Our CC had a lot of behavior issues, so that didn't help matters.  I thought the program was way overpriced for what we got. My dd's tutor knew nothing about most of the subjects except what was in the material, so she gave out a lot of misinformation when she answered the kids' questions.

 

I read Leigh Bortins book about Classical Ed, and when I was done, I still didn't have a clear pictue of what she thinks Classical Ed should look like.  It also seemed like in some areas, she makes it up as she goes and calls it classical even if no-one else calls her method classical.  (I know there's more than one way to do Classical, but I don't think we can just make up our own method and call it classical to make it sound good.)

 

I don't begrudge anyone else using CC, but we were very disappointed with it.

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I've been strongly "encouraged" to join by several of my friends.  I just can't wrap my head around the cost.  From what I understand, none of the "tutors" are professional educators, plus the parent is required to stay with the children.  I have one who loves to memorize and would probably enjoy the program.  But there is no way my other son would sit still that long.  And I'm told he would have to join CC or sit with me for the hours that CC takes.  I can see paying for a professional educator, or for the convenience of being able to drop off my son so he could work without the distraction of his brother.  But with CC you get neither.  What are you doing that can't be done at home for a fraction of the cost?  Just invite some friends over, recite the memory work, do a science demonstration and voila, you've got Classical Conversations.  I'm sure I'm simplifying it quite a bit, and I hope I haven't been offensive.  But like I said, I'm stumped by its popularity.

 

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I can never figure out exactly what classical education is, so I don't feel qualified to speak about if CC is or not. However, we are in our first year and I am pretty sure we will not continue next year. For several reasons, I just don't feel like it is a good investment of our time and money. There is definitely, a "drink the koolaid" thing going on at our campus. I did tell someone that we probably weren't going back next year and was shocked to find out she shared a lot of the same concerns. So many moms have just gone on and on and ON about how CC has just been the most wonderful thing in the world. It's okay, there are some good things.....but with it taking ups whole day every week and next year I'd have two kids in, so the price would double..... I can buy a lot of really awesome ( and IMO more developmentally appropriate) curriculum.

 

ETA: Developmentally appropriate for my kids who will be 4 and 7 next year.

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This is our fourth year with CC. My son is 7, so our experience is limited to the Foundations program.

 

To answer your question, yes, CC has been both classical and a conversation for us. Other posters have given this a good going over, so I won't repeat our similar experiences or knowledge of classical education. I will share, however, that seeing the value of CC required persisting through the first semester snark phase, and coming to some pride stripping realizations about my treasured education.

 

The first semester snark phase -- I engaged in heavy generalization. Our tutor's slight mistakes set off the academic police siren in my head. My esteem for the program hinged on the correct pronunciation of Dvorak.

 

Second semester humility -- the formerly generalized denim jumpered woman with 14 children saw something beautiful in my son I was blind to. (That I didn't at once appreciate the parenting wisdom of a woman with 14 children is one of my less than intelligent moments). I confidently explained atmospheric pressure to my son, which my husband later informed me was entirely inaccurate. Thankfully, my graduate degree and the respect of my violin students doesn't hinge upon my ability to pronounce Betelgeuse.

 

And this is where the value of CC became apparent to me. It isn't about a mass of knowledge... It's about parents humbling themselves so that they might take on the awe of a new thing in tandem with their child. CC has presented me with an abyss of what I don't know, quite frankly. I can walk outside tonight and take in the Leonids meteor shower. But I have to know it exists first, and I love that CC has done that for us.

 

It may not be the program for you. But if it isn't, that doesn't mean it is without merit or "unhealthy." That seems like a hasty assessment in search of a desired outcome.

 

Peace,

Stella

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I would argue that 24 history sentences is not enough bones, and in order to keep up the pace, important periods in history have to be skipped. SOTW has 42 chapters and we'd have to read several per week to keep up with that pace (as it is, we can barely get through one chapter a week, supplementing it with the complementary materials). And the science jumps all over the place, so I wouldn't find continuity with that either. 

 

Then again, maybe it could work well for those who don't put the same emphasis on history that our family does. I'll blame SWB for that ;)

 

 

 

You should not assume since we use the history sentences as our starting point, that we do not have a strong emphasis on history.  We do not skip important periods of history.  We take our time, it is not a race.  We make the program work for us.  No two families in our community do things at home in the same way.  

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The complaints you have with CC could have been seen at an Open House. Did you not attend an open house?

I attended an open house. They showed cute pictures of kids doing great projects-like for art, painting while laying on the floor like Michelangelo painting the Sistine ceiling. The projects we actually do are more like "artists use circles, straight lines, dots, and curvy lines to make pictures. Let's make pictures using those." Only one science project has been both educational AND interesting/age appropriate. The way people talked, I thought the projects were going to be awesome. But, IME, they haven't been. Another thing that was not obvious was that the schedule is so packed tight they do not have a chance to build relationships or community with other kids. They are busy every minute. They don't work on things together. Part of what I was looking for was friends for my kids that were hsing and academically focused. Yes, there is "recess" at the end, but it's not conducive to building friendships. There's just a bunch of kids running around in the gym. Kids are mostly playing with other kids they already knew because of the lack of time to get to know anyone else. Another thing they assured me of was that I could pick and choose what to work on from CC, that it didn't need to dominate my schedule and I would have plenty of time to do all the other stuff I had planned. But we have to spend tons of time on it because they play these review games that put the kids on the spot to know everything (6yos). And everything needs context and explanation. So, in addition to taking up a day, it eats significantly into our time on the other days. (I don't want to make my 6yo spend hours every day on school and really, our time needs to be focused on reading and math.

 

Nt everything is bad. I've met some cool moms, the history timeline is great, sometimes there is a project that is done better than I could at home. But overall, it's not worth for us, and I went to the open house and attempted to do due diligence beforehand.

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Hmmm....I came by this morning to respond to a post from last night (by OhElizabeth) that seems to have been deleted. 

 

I think this discussion is great for those of us who are on the fence, or who have pros and cons of the program as a whole. For those who either love it or don't like it at all, this is a moot point.

 

~liz

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I don't understand the hesitancy to discuss this topic, it seems there have been many discussions on here about the definition of classical education. Considering the popularity of CC in many places it seems prudent to discuss its merits and worth. People slam all kinds of choices so I don't understand why CC should gets some special pass. It seems people don't worry about offending those who use other choices why is this a consideration here?

 

We don't have CC here so it is not an option but considering my son's extreme difficulty w/ rote memorization it would be a nightmare for us, even if I did agree w/ it philosophically.

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Sonlight, which is very history-focused, goes through two SOTW books per year in their world history (6th/7th? grade) courses. 

 

Just a side perspective from someone who doesn't have a dog in the CC debate & who believes in having a context for memorization.

 

I was referring to the grammar stage for SOTW, since that's what it's designed for, although it can be used up through 8th grade. Since my 11 yr-old and I went through all four volumes in grades 1-4, and her younger siblings are in the process of doing that, she listens to the SOTW reading (we all sit on the couch together), and then when it's time to use the AG for questions, narrations, map work, etc., she does the work that that is outlined in TWTM for the dialectic stage (with some modifications). 

 

However, even without using SOTW, I still think the four year history cycle used all the way through (so three times in grades 1-12), does more justice to history than squeezing it into three (or less) year cycles, but I know there are many homeschool curricula which have a greater emphasis on American history (and homeschool families who value that more), so in order to allot more time to that, they have to condense world history. Or they do it to allow a year for geography or something else history related. 

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At an open house, you and your child can sit in on a class to see what it is about. There should really be no surprises as far as content goes. The things that I am not as happy with, I knew going in. The foundations guide states exactly which art projects and science projects are to be done. (The art projects are second semester, by the way.). I am not thrilled with many of these projects, but I understand that they do their best to use materials that will work well for all age groups.

 

When you decide to outsource any class, you are at the mercy of that organization as to what they will do. The GOOD thing about CC is that you can know exactly what will be done/used because it is highly structured.

 

I would not spend significant time at home with CC for a 6 year old. You do not have to provide context for any of the memory work. You are choosing to do that. You can provide context as you learn it in history. Listen to the CDs and leave it at that.

 

I agree about the lost day, though. Those of us using a full curriculum at home really miss that day. It is a sacrifice.

 

T'smom, sorry your child hasn't made any lasting friendships during lunch/recess. It will come.

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I attended an open house. They showed cute pictures of kids doing great projects-like for art, painting while laying on the floor like Michelangelo painting the Sistine ceiling. The projects we actually do are more like "artists use circles, straight lines, dots, and curvy lines to make pictures. Let's make pictures using those." Only one science project has been both educational AND interesting/age appropriate. The way people talked, I thought the projects were going to be awesome. But, IME, they haven't been. Another thing that was not obvious was that the schedule is so packed tight they do not have a chance to build relationships or community with other kids. They are busy every minute. They don't work on things together. Part of what I was looking for was friends for my kids that were hsing and academically focused. Yes, there is "recess" at the end, but it's not conducive to building friendships. There's just a bunch of kids running around in the gym. Kids are mostly playing with other kids they already knew because of the lack of time to get to know anyone else. Another thing they assured me of was that I could pick and choose what to work on from CC, that it didn't need to dominate my schedule and I would have plenty of time to do all the other stuff I had planned. But we have to spend tons of time on it because they play these review games that put the kids on the spot to know everything (6yos). And everything needs context and explanation. So, in addition to taking up a day, it eats significantly into our time on the other days. (I don't want to make my 6yo spend hours every day on school and really, our time needs to be focused on reading and math.

 

Nt everything is bad. I've met some cool moms, the history timeline is great, sometimes there is a project that is done better than I could at home. But overall, it's not worth for us, and I went to the open house and attempted to do due diligence beforehand.

 

This resonates with my experience as well. Thank you for saying it. Sometimes you can't really understand how something works until you participate in it. Although I do wish I had at least sat in on a class, but I didn't look into it until they had just wrapped up the year, so all we got was the open house, which was really just the timeline song and presentations. At the information meeting, I was told what the schedule was - and I don't feel I was deceived, but it just played out differently in practice than in theory, and I didn't realize how much it would bother me that there couldn't be discussion (hence my beef with it being called "conversations") about the content of the memory work in class. 

 

I agree that the timeline is probably the best part in terms of learning - my girls have already memorized the whole thing (as many kids there have), so that's at least one thing we can take away, despite the financial loss (live and learn) since we paid a full year tuition for both Foundations and Essentials, not to mention the cost of the materials (which seems to be where CC generates its income, in addition to its website subscription, app, etc.).

 

I also just want to say that the main reason I decided to try it was because the director and her husband are wonderful people - they are seminary grads and have devoted themselves to educating children. They have their own tutoring center and they homeschool their children. It's ironic to me, though, because they are so out-of-the-box with the classes they offer at their center, and very eclectic, technology oriented, creative, etc., and not even classical homeschoolers. In fact, a lot of the people who are in our CC community aren't classical homeschoolers, and some are even unschoolers. Several families are piecing their children's education together with co-ops, classes, and extracurriculars (so the home part is light and therefore not context oriented), while others are basing their whole curriculum around CC. 

 

They only just started this community last year, so before that I would have had to go into SF, which is where some of my friends go (and where our director went with her then 4 yr-old to experience the program for a year before starting her own), and it's a more established community. I had too many reservations about doing it to spend the money and to commute, but when it came to our county, and was started by people that I trust (my kids had loved their summer camp classes), I put those aside. I really really wanted it to be a good fit for our family, so it hasn't been easy struggling with all this, not to mention when I quit a the Essentials tutor, and felt like I was letting my friends down (they didn't make me feel that way - I just did), but that it was either that or that  my family would suffer from the time, energy, and frustration required by that commitment. One thing I could never understand was why there was no tutor manual. We were directed to webinars, forums, and various sources that we had to compile together, and it would have been much simpler and less time consuming if it were all in one place. And yet, even tutors weren't supposed to share their materials with each other!  For IEW, you've got to watch hours of DVDs, and then re-watch them, because it's impossible to retain all that after such a long viewing time. And the book that CC uses with IEW doesn't follow the same order as the units - it also moves much more quickly through them. Everything just felt very bloated and overcomplicated and rushed (even though it's the same program for three years except for a different book to go with IEW to match the history cycle). 

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they are doing away with the History-Based Writing books (thank goodness!) for the very reason you stated above: CC's schedule of following the TWSS syllabus made it impossible to stay in historical/chronological order in the MBHW books. Drives me batty!  CC came up with their own book, following the TWSS syllabus and the lessons will be historically chronological.

 

it's baffling to me that tutors aren't supposed to share their lesson plans in teaching as well. fortunately a friend of mine gave me hers to look over when i was starting to make lessons plans. otherwise, i'd still be trying to come up with my own system. there is a lot to do as a tutor, but i enjoy the preparation for the class each week. except for the IEW part. :-)

 

 

 

This resonates with my experience as well. Thank you for saying it. Sometimes you can't really understand how something works until you participate in it. Although I do wish I had at least sat in on a class, but I didn't look into it until they had just wrapped up the year, so all we got was the open house, which was really just the timeline song and presentations. At the information meeting, I was told what the schedule was - and I don't feel I was deceived, but it just played out differently in practice than in theory, and I didn't realize how much it would bother me that there couldn't be discussion (hence my beef with it being called "conversations") about the content of the memory work in class. 

 

I agree that the timeline is probably the best part in terms of learning - my girls have already memorized the whole thing (as many kids there have), so that's at least one thing we can take away, despite the financial loss (live and learn) since we paid a full year tuition for both Foundations and Essentials, not to mention the cost of the materials (which seems to be where CC generates its income, in addition to its website subscription, app, etc.).

 

I also just want to say that the main reason I decided to try it was because the director and her husband are wonderful people - they are seminary grads and have devoted themselves to educating children. They have their own tutoring center and they homeschool their children. It's ironic to me, though, because they are so out-of-the-box with the classes they offer at their center, and very eclectic, technology oriented, creative, etc., and not even classical homeschoolers. In fact, a lot of the people who are in our CC community aren't classical homeschoolers, and some are even unschoolers. Several families are piecing their children's education together with co-ops, classes, and extracurriculars (so the home part is light and therefore not context oriented), while others are basing their whole curriculum around CC. 

 

They only just started this community last year, so before that I would have had to go into SF, which is where some of my friends go (and where our director went with her then 4 yr-old to experience the program for a year before starting her own), and it's a more established community. I had too many reservations about doing it to spend the money and to commute, but when it came to our county, and was started by people that I trust (my kids had loved their summer camp classes), I put those aside. I really really wanted it to be a good fit for our family, so it hasn't been easy struggling with all this, not to mention when I quit a the Essentials tutor, and felt like I was letting my friends down (they didn't make me feel that way - I just did), but that it was either that or that  my family would suffer from the time, energy, and frustration required by that commitment. One thing I could never understand was why there was no tutor manual. We were directed to webinars, forums, and various sources that we had to compile together, and it would have been much simpler and less time consuming if it were all in one place. And yet, even tutors weren't supposed to share their materials with each other!  For IEW, you've got to watch hours of DVDs, and then re-watch them, because it's impossible to retain all that after such a long viewing time. And the book that CC uses with IEW doesn't follow the same order as the units - it also moves much more quickly through them. Everything just felt very bloated and overcomplicated and rushed (even though it's the same program for three years except for a different book to go with IEW to match the history cycle). 

 

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I don't understand the hesitancy to discuss this topic, it seems there have been many discussions on here about the definition of classical education. Considering the popularity of CC in many places it seems prudent to discuss its merits and worth. People slam all kinds of choices so I don't understand why CC should gets some special pass. It seems people don't worry about offending those who use other choices why is this a consideration here?

 

We don't have CC here so it is not an option but considering my son's extreme difficulty w/ rote memorization it would be a nightmare for us, even if I did agree w/ it philosophically.

 

I don't have a problem with CC being discussed at all.  I have a problem with the assumptions by the OP that her assessment is the only correct one and taking jabs at those who like it.

 

I'm not a CCer.  I've checked it out, I know people who've done it and tried to get me on board, but it's not my thing.  That doesn't mean that anyone who has tried it hasn't thought it through, as OP implies.

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At an open house, you and your child can sit in on a class to see what it is about. There should really be no surprises as far as content goes. The things that I am not as happy with, I knew going in. The foundations guide states exactly which art projects and science projects are to be done. (The art projects are second semester, by the way.). I am not thrilled with many of these projects, but I understand that they do their best to use materials that will work well for all age groups.

 

When you decide to outsource any class, you are at the mercy of that organization as to what they will do. The GOOD thing about CC is that you can know exactly what will be done/used because it is highly structured.

 

I would not spend significant time at home with CC for a 6 year old. You do not have to provide context for any of the memory work. You are choosing to do that. You can provide context as you learn it in history. Listen to the CDs and leave it at that.

 

I agree about the lost day, though. Those of us using a full curriculum at home really miss that day. It is a sacrifice.

 

T'smom, sorry your child hasn't made any lasting friendships during lunch/recess. It will come.

CC just started in our area, so there were no classes available to sit in on. I wish that had been an option.

 

I don't really feel like there is a legitimate choice to not provide context. Without context, he might as well be memorizing a random list of nonsense words. I radically underestimated the time it would take to provide context (and was assured by many people that we could just listen to the CDs and be fine). I disagree with that and wish someone had said that to me before we enrolled. That is the biggest thing right there. I vastly underestimated the time that this would take and really, really wish someone had told me. And I don't provide nearly as much context as I wish I did. There simply isn't time.

 

I didn't buy the foundations guide until we were enrolled....honestly, it did not occur to me to do that or to look up every activity that would be done. I assumed what was said at the open house (which I am just now realizing probably wasn't an actual open house.... It was more of an informational meeting. But, it was all that was available since it just started this year in our area) was an accurate representation.

 

It is sweet of you to say that about ds making friends at recess. He is happy because he gets to shoot baskets.

 

I only chimed in because these are things I wish someone had said to me before we enrolled. I'm glad it is such a great fit for you and the rest of the people who love it so much.

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I am a CC tutor, a CC Essentials drop out and a would-be Foundations drop out. I agree with pretty much all that has been said. It depends on the tutor, the child, the family.... I tutor ChA and wish the Foundation kids would not learn the Latin save the Declension endings. Its confusing and puts it in their heads that Latin isnt for them. For this History major, I wish the memorization went deeper - to say that the kids will get context when they get older is a little misleading in my opinion - they do not go over the timeline again in depth in the Challenge programs - I wish they did. To say that the kids just need to memorize and they will not appreciate or understand context is just wrong.

 

In the Challenge programs, the discussion increases dramatically with the expressing of ideas, concepts, information. If it is not for your family right now, please do not throw the entire program under the bus and consider it again when your child reaches Challenge age.

 

I also bristle at what the parents "need" to buy - however, these are generally easy to find used or make friends with a family whose last child is ahead of you and just buy their used books. And what I originally scoffed at, most books are ones I have loved when finished.

 

I see both sides of the coin - but at the end of the day, we love our community. These families are the ones we do life with in our rural area. These texts were on my personal list when I was scoping out High School. I love having a "backup" from women who have gone before me, who cursed Henle under their breath and wondered if it was worth it, who have chucked a week's worth of work to have a break and then picked it all back up again. Who sees the proof of the Latin in their kids' SAT scores. I personally see it with my son in his confidence at mastering such a difficult thing when most of his friends have not...

 

Blessings on a "program" or book list or anything that will aid in your homeschooling adventure - if 1 size fit all, well... we wouldnt be homeschooling ;)

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I don't have a problem with CC being discussed at all.  I have a problem with the assumptions by the OP that her assessment is the only correct one and taking jabs at those who like it.

 

I'm not a CCer.  I've checked it out, I know people who've done it and tried to get me on board, but it's not my thing.  That doesn't mean that anyone who has tried it hasn't thought it through, as OP implies.

 

I expressed my opinion and asked if anyone else shared it. If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't say it. That's what an opinion is - saying what one believes. I am actually far more open minded than you paint me, and that's also why I ended up in CC in the first place. I wanted my skepticism to be wrong and I forked over a whole lot of cash to prove it!

 

I didn't say that everyone who is in CC isn't thinking for themselves. I just said that there is an aspect of following the crowd / trusting in authority, and I even said I have been guilty of that myself at times, whether it was with CC or TWTM. That it isn't "taking jabs." 

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I just wanted to share something I wrote a few months ago, because I finally took the time to sit down and articulate my reasons for pursuing other avenues. The pressure to join a community was quite intense this past summer, since there were so many new ones opening up. You may appreaciate my list. ;)

 

Repost:

 

I know Sonlight has done something like this, and I found I agreed with their list of reasons NOT to do Sonlight. I love their books and the company, but their list solidified why I didn't want to use their program. In that same vein, I have written a list of 27 Reasons NOT to do CC. My goal is not to slander CC, but in a slightly humorous way summarize and convey some of the criticisms that have been voiced on TWTM boards. As with anything, there are pros and cons to any co-op, curriculum, etc. If any of these cause you to pause, maybe you should do more research on that particular point.

 

 

27 Reasons NOT to join Classical Conversations:

1.) You are required to stay and observe the class if you are not tutoring. You think you’ll be bringing newspapers or a novel to read by the end of the year. Maybe you’ll even brazenly start clipping coupons, because it only takes one other mom to pass out crayons.

2.) You like your history in four or six year cycles and can’t imagine reducing it to three.

3.) You like teaching your children their memory work in context.

4.) You don’t need to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars (depending on family size) for the benefit of a home school community.

5.) You don’t want to choose between “fleshing out the material at home†and teaching memory work out of context.

6.) You like other classical latin programs that use song for teaching your little ones latin memory work much better than what CC offers - and you can wait until they are ready for it.

7.) You think it is silly to compare the cost of trained music teachers to tutors when there is very little training of one compared to the other.

8.) You don’t appreciate the strong sales pitches made to join CC at every turn. (*This may be most relevant to you - as you will feel a need to grow your community/business*)

9.) You understand that while all that is required is the tin whistle and the Foundations guide, to really succeed you need to buy a memory work CD, a CC Connected subscription, pictorial timeline cards, and some cute memory cards on a keychain.

10.) Opportunity cost: you value your time and money. You can buy a lot of books and can afford an online latin class for the cost of CC. You can join a co-op that better meets your specific areas of weakness.

11.) You realize that if you purchase curriculum from classical publishers, they have memory work built into their programs. CC grammar memory and math songs would be redundant.  

12.) You think CC corporate is extremely quirky about their position on copyright. So how many times do you have to purchase their material anyway?

13.) You don’t think CC is the only way to provide a Classical Christian education.

14.) You realize CC corporate exists to serve classical homeschoolers who are members of their communities.

15.) You like The Well-Trained Mind better than The Core.

16.) You lean a little more Charlotte Mason.

17.) You feel like CC Connected is unfairly benefitting from the hard work of its valuable paid members, because the members supply tons of content and to your knowledge receive no monetary reimbursement for their time and effort (CC owns the material and the forum).

18.) You think it is crazy to mandate 4 year-old siblings to register for the program instead of playing in the preschool room. But then again you are paying an extra cost for babysitting your little ones - not a preschool program.

19.) You would have trouble abiding by the following: Thou shalt not say anything critical of or negative about your personal CC experience and why it wasn’t a good fit for your family.

20.) Not all tutors are equal.

21.) You may not like the emphasis on earning Memory Master status, especially if your child has learning challenges.

22.) There is no 100% satisfaction guarantee. All money is paid up front.

23.) You don’t need someone to model memory work. It just isn’t that tough.

24.) Youtube is free.

25.) Twenty-four weeks of six subjects of memory work is a very long time and a whole lot of unrelated information. In fact, it is too fast and too much for your personal taste. Can we memorize a poem or a hymn now (see #16)?

26.) You don’t see how it is possible to really teach quality art, science, and music in the time allotted if the parents aren’t asked to supplement with context at home and the paid tutors may or may not know what they are talking about. (See #7 and #20)

27.) You don’t think the community at CC is somehow academically superior to other groups serving the elementary ages and recognize that people use many different philosophies and methodologies for their child’s education - and God uses them too.

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I just wanted to share something I wrote a few months ago, because I finally took the time to sit down and articulate my reasons for pursuing other avenues. The pressure to join a community was quite intense this past summer, since there were so many new ones opening up. You may appreaciate my list. ;)

 

Repost:

 

I know Sonlight has done something like this, and I found I agreed with their list of reasons NOT to do Sonlight. I love their books and the company, but their list solidified why I didn't want to use their program. In that same vein, I have written a list of 27 Reasons NOT to do CC. My goal is not to slander CC, but in a slightly humorous way summarize and convey some of the criticisms that have been voiced on TWTM boards. As with anything, there are pros and cons to any co-op, curriculum, etc. If any of these cause you to pause, maybe you should do more research on that particular point.

 

 

27 Reasons NOT to join Classical Conversations:

 

1.) You are required to stay and observe the class if you are not tutoring. You think you’ll be bringing newspapers or a novel to read by the end of the year. Maybe you’ll even brazenly start clipping coupons, because it only takes one other mom to pass out crayons.

 

2.) You like your history in four or six year cycles and can’t imagine reducing it to three.

 

3.) You like teaching your children their memory work in context.

 

4.) You don’t need to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars (depending on family size) for the benefit of a home school community.

 

5.) You don’t want to choose between “fleshing out the material at home†and teaching memory work out of context.

 

6.) You like other classical latin programs that use song for teaching your little ones latin memory work much better than what CC offers - and you can wait until they are ready for it.

 

7.) You think it is silly to compare the cost of trained music teachers to tutors when there is very little training of one compared to the other.

 

8.) You don’t appreciate the strong sales pitches made to join CC at every turn. (*This may be most relevant to you - as you will feel a need to grow your community/business*)

 

9.) You understand that while all that is required is the tin whistle and the Foundations guide, to really succeed you need to buy a memory work CD, a CC Connected subscription, pictorial timeline cards, and some cute memory cards on a keychain.

 

10.) Opportunity cost: you value your time and money. You can buy a lot of books and can afford an online latin class for the cost of CC. You can join a co-op that better meets your specific areas of weakness.

 

11.) You realize that if you purchase curriculum from classical publishers, they have memory work built into their programs. CC grammar memory and math songs would be redundant.  

 

12.) You think CC corporate is extremely quirky about their position on copyright. So how many times do you have to purchase their material anyway?

 

13.) You don’t think CC is the only way to provide a Classical Christian education.

 

14.) You realize CC corporate exists to serve classical homeschoolers who are members of their communities.

 

15.) You like The Well-Trained Mind better than The Core.

 

16.) You lean a little more Charlotte Mason.

 

17.) You feel like CC Connected is unfairly benefitting from the hard work of its valuable paid members, because the members supply tons of content and to your knowledge receive no monetary reimbursement for their time and effort (CC owns the material and the forum).

 

18.) You think it is crazy to mandate 4 year-old siblings to register for the program instead of playing in the preschool room. But then again you are paying an extra cost for babysitting your little ones - not a preschool program.

19.) You would have trouble abiding by the following: Thou shalt not say anything critical of or negative about your personal CC experience and why it wasn’t a good fit for your family.

 

20.) Not all tutors are equal.

 

21.) You may not like the emphasis on earning Memory Master status, especially if your child has learning challenges.

 

22.) There is no 100% satisfaction guarantee. All money is paid up front.

 

23.) You don’t need someone to model memory work. It just isn’t that tough.

 

24.) Youtube is free.

 

25.) Twenty-four weeks of six subjects of memory work is a very long time and a whole lot of unrelated information. In fact, it is too fast and too much for your personal taste. Can we memorize a poem or a hymn now (see #16)?

 

26.) You don’t see how it is possible to really teach quality art, science, and music in the time allotted if the parents aren’t asked to supplement with context at home and the paid tutors may or may not know what they are talking about. (See #7 and #20)

 

27.) You don’t think the community at CC is somehow academically superior to other groups serving the elementary ages and recognize that people use many different philosophies and methodologies for their child’s education - and God uses them too.

 

Oh man, I wish I had this list before I joined!  Then again, when I don't listen to myself, and am blinded by my own idealism, I pretty much tune everything else out…until I'm enmeshed and the blinders start coming off. I'm glad you posted it, though, because it balances out all the CC cheerleading, and generates a lot of talking points. 

 

Also, it speaks volumes about Sonlight that they want people to be clear on their program and that it's not for everyone. I wish more companies that get their income from homeschooling families had that kind of humility and transparency. 

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T'smom, the truth of the matter is that those people who are providing context are not doing a separate curriculum. All they are doing for history and science is fleshing out the material. For me, the history and science are too random to build a study from, so I don't flesh it out.

 

When I think about grammar stage memory work, I think about some of the things SWB has said about having pegs to hang information on. When my child learns a history sentence, she learns SOMETHING about the topic. She doesn't need to know everything. It is just a starting place. When you go home and place it into context, you are hanging information on the peg, whether that is next week or next year isn't important. The whole point is that you are adding information into your brain that you can use later.

 

This is the way I use CC. I am not at all concerned about understanding the topic at all at the moment. That comes later. Once those sentences are in your brain, they are there permanently to use when you need them. We use them as we get to them in our studies.

 

CC isn't perfect by any means, and I can understand the frustration of not getting what you expected. The director of our community goes to great lengths to explain exactly what will be going on. I also did a lot of research about foundations and am currently poring over the challenge information. For me, it looks like challenge is a no go, but foundations has been very beneficial.

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