Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I am Not Returning to Classical Conversations

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If you have been here a while, you might remember my post from last year, Why I Decided to Join Classical Conversations.    I had always had my eye on Classical Conversations, but for some reason it never seemed like it was the right thing for my family to do (for many reasons).  Then last year a new campus opened in my city, so I thought it was a good time to try it.  As I re-read my post from last year, the reasons for joining are still very valid, so why am I not returning?  First let me talk about some things that I really appreciated about my CC community.

The Memory Work


One hour of each community day is dedicated to memory work (1/2 hour to new material and 1/2 hour to reviewing past weeks' material).  Yes, the great volume of memory work comes at you like a tidal wave.  Yes, it is mostly disjointed from each other and from other things you are learning.  Yes, for the most part the kids don't really understand what they saying...BUT I still appreciated it and think it has great merit.  

It truly does provide great pegs for my children to hang their other learning on.  We have referenced different memory work pieces many times this year.  

I also loved seeing how much can truly be retained when it is learned through song (we put a song to most everything).  I learned many, many new things through those songs too!

Next year I plan on continuing with the memory work at home.


Timeline


Classical Conversations created their own timeline.  It is put to song and available in flash card form.  My kids did not master the entire timeline, but they can sing along when the music is playing and will often reference events that they hear about in their daily lives.  I think it is so important for every person to understand the general flow of history and their place in it.  We had been using the Veritas Press timeline song and cards, but we will stick with the CC ones now.  I plan on continuing to use them next year at home.


Presentations


Each week the children give a short presentation in front of their 8 person class.  It was wonderful to see how each student grew in their confidence and ability!  I think it was a great idea for CC to put this as part of the class time and I am going to miss that opportunity.  I am hoping to continue some form of this, maybe with a few homeschool friends getting together, because I think it is a vital skill to learn!


Scripture in Latin


I have been using Song School Latin with my kids for the past couple of years, but I really enjoyed the Latin component of CC as a supplement!  Last year we memorized the vocab of John 1 and then put it together to learn to say the first 7 verses of the chapter.  It was really neat to do this as a group and to get the feel of speaking a long passage in Latin.  I am thankful that we got the opportunity to do this!


The Community 


One big reason that many people like CC is the community aspect of it.  I especially appreciated knowing that a group of other people were doing similar things and that many of us thought the same way on many issues.  It was great to get to know a group of other homeschool moms (only one of which I knew before) and to learn from one another.  A few of them scheduled outside field trips for us, and that helped me to learn about opportunities in my community that I didn't know were there!

From the perspective of my children, they appreciated getting to know new kids too.  They both LOVED going to class each week.  Honestly there really isn't much time available for getting to know one another very well (everything is so jam packed and fast paced), but they enjoyed being around the other kids and always looked forward to play time after lunch.


Classical Conversations' desire to help families grow


Classical Conversations really is a support to homeschooling families.  I particularly appreciated the encouragement that came in the form of helpful emails and at the practicum.  I think the company is finding great topics to talk about and to explore with homeschool families.  

The lady who ran my area practicum last year set up two meeting times during the year for parents in my area to get together and learn about classical principles.  She asked me to speak at both of them, which was a great privilege!  Our first meeting had a focus on ScholĂ© and the second on Assessment.  I appreciated the desire to help inform and encourage community members through these events, and I will miss not being a part of them next year!



So, why am I not returning to Classical Conversations?




As you can see, there are many great aspects of CC.  I am thankful that I was a part of the community last year.  The problem is that I had a nagging feeling through most of the year that I just couldn't shake.

You see, Classical Conversations has a great focus on the trivium.  They understand the grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages and heavily write their material to go along with them.  That sounds great, right? Well, the problem is that the trivium is only one small part of the classical model of education.  

Over the past two years I have been reading and listening to great authors and speakers share what they have rediscovered about classical education.  Two years ago I would have thought that CC was spot on and would have equated classical education with the trivium as well.

Classical education is SO MUCH MORE than the trivium.  (It be fair, I think that CC is discovering this as well, but it is very hard to change things in a large program that has been running the same way for many years.)  Classical education is also about concepts like multum non multa (much not many), scholĂ© (restful learning), festina lente (make haste slowly), cultivating wonder, and more!

I would see emails from Classical Conversations starting to talk about topics like these, but the reality is that the program (in the foundations level at least) is not set up in a way that allows them to take place.  A big focus of the morning is sticking to schedule.  In tutor training, it is drilled into us that each segment of the morning must be a crisp 30 minutes long, and there is no freedom to change anything.  Of course some tutors or campuses may choose to not obey those rules, but I cannot speak for them.

How can students revel in the wonder of learning when there is no time for a student to ask questions and no ability to dive deeply into a topic of interest?

As much as I enjoyed the memory work, the broad scope and fast pace is the opposite of multum non multa.  

Fine Arts and Science are two other segments of the morning.  I enjoyed both of these aspects of the program, but they were not without problems as well.  Often, the children were enjoying their art projects so much that they wanted to continue working on them.  That is a wonderful thing!  But it is not possible in the structure of the CC morning.  Art time must be a crisp 30 minute segment.  

Science experiments, on the other hand, were often a quick demonstration and the tutors were left to try to fill the rest of the half hour.  It is very clear from the guidelines that tutors are not supposed to be teaching, but instead just modeling for the parents, so this left us in a bind.  We were not really supposed to teach what was happening in the experiment, nor were we allowed to add another related experiment.  

In a parent-led co-op, the problem would have easily been solved by giving more time to art and less to science.  Or activities could be chosen differently (longer science experiments and shorter art projects).  This is not possible in CC because when you sign up as an official campus you are agreeing to follow their program and you give up your freedom to make changes like this.

These things are definitely not cause to discredit the program, but part of my reason for choosing to homeschool my children was so that I could do things in ways that I saw fit to most benefit my children.  I don't want to give up that freedom, even for one morning a week.

Another issue for me, personally, is that (like I mentioned before) the class is not actually designed to be for the children.  It is supposed to be teaching the parents (who stay in class) how they can teach at home.  I am sure that some parents benefit from this, but it is just not what I need right now.  If I put out money for a class, I want it to be for my children, not me.  It only adds to the problem that I don't think they are teaching truly classical principals during class time.  They are teaching helpful ways to memorize information, but that is not all that classical education is about.  (I cannot speak for the Essentials and Challenge programs, only Foundations.)

It is hard for me to type this because I really don't want to come across saying that the program is bad.  I think it is very helpful to many families and I appreciate that it is available.  I am honestly not trying to dissuade you from joining your local community, it just isn't the right thing for my family at this time.

I understand that many of my issues stem from the fact that CC is an international company and that in order to make a program that large to work, there needs to be rules and regulations. standards and consistency.  Therefore I am not faulting the company, but personally I need to make the best decision for my family right now. 



So what is the plan for next year?




I have learned a lot this past year, both from my experience at CC and from other sources. So, what do I desire for next year?

I want a truly classical group.


I want a group of like-minded people to dive into the full richness of classical education with.  I want to dive deep together, cultivating virtue, enhancing wonder, and pointing our children toward truth, goodness, and beauty.

I want freedom.


I want the freedom to change things that need to be changed.  I want the ability to stay on one subject for 2 hours if the children are engaged in the wonder of God's creation and there is no pressing reason to stop!  

I want to work together with other moms.


The Body of Christ is so diverse in our gifts and talents.  CC literally left me in a state of exhaustion each week because their model has the tutor doing everything (to show that "You can do it too, mom!")  I appreciate their desire there, but it has made me understand more fully how every person is uniquely gifted and that it is beautiful when we come together and share our strengths!  

I think that meeting days could be a time of joy (instead of stress), with each mom doing what she loves to do, blessing the entire group by doing it.  A few friends and I have been experimenting with that concept this spring and it is working well so far!

So what is the plan?  Well, I'm working on it =)  I am excited to say that it is beginning to come together and I look forward to sharing the details with you soon!



I do not want this to become a "praise CC" or "trash CC" fest, but I would love to discuss this more with you in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts to share.  I am sure that I did not remember all the good things about CC and I am sure that I did not adequately explain my reasons for not continuing, so I am happy to dialogue with you in the comment section if I can help in any way!



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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trivium Tuesdays - Classical Link-Up #160

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Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this link-up is hosted by Living and Learning at Home (that's me!) and Classically Homeschooling and is aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.


Don't forget to follow my Pinterest boards that are a part of the All Things Classical List!

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Also, please remember to only link up posts that have to do with homeschooling using the classical model of education.  Thank you for understanding this link-up's theme.


Featured Post from Last Week



The Hungry Schooler is loving learning Latin and so am I!  I'll be sharing soon about how we are enjoying Song School Latin 2, but for now check out Angela's post which is full of encouragement and ideas for learning Latin along with your kids!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please link back to this post in some way. You can use my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) if you'd like so others can learn about this link-up! Button code: <a href="http://www.livingandlearningathome.com/" target="_blank" title="Trivium Tuesdays"><img alt="Living and Learning at Home" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZNtNfqeG_W4/U0qj7mUZCfI/AAAAAAAAFbo/vhEStFGbogw/s1600/Trivium+Tuesdays+-+button.png"/></a>
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!


I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         

If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

If you want to be reminded of this link-up each week, make sure to sign up below!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trivium Tuesdays - Classical Link-Up #159

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Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this link-up is hosted by Living and Learning at Home (that's me!) and Classically Homeschooling and is aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.


Don't forget to follow my Pinterest boards that are a part of the All Things Classical List!

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Also, please remember to only link up posts that have to do with homeschooling using the classical model of education.  Thank you for understanding this link-up's theme.


Featured Post from Last Week



I really enjoyed these tips about homeschooling high school from Sara over at Classical Homeschooling.  If you have older kids (or if you have little kids who will one day grow up =) check out Sara's great ideas!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please link back to this post in some way. You can use my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) if you'd like so others can learn about this link-up! Button code: <a href="http://www.livingandlearningathome.com/" target="_blank" title="Trivium Tuesdays"><img alt="Living and Learning at Home" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZNtNfqeG_W4/U0qj7mUZCfI/AAAAAAAAFbo/vhEStFGbogw/s1600/Trivium+Tuesdays+-+button.png"/></a>
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!


I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         

If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

If you want to be reminded of this link-up each week, make sure to sign up below!
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trivium Tuesdays - Classical Link-Up #158

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Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this link-up is hosted by Living and Learning at Home (that's me!) and Classically Homeschooling and is aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.


Don't forget to follow my Pinterest boards that are a part of the All Things Classical List!

 photo AllThingsClassical-titlepic_zps4a3485e7.png

Also, please remember to only link up posts that have to do with homeschooling using the classical model of education.  Thank you for understanding this link-up's theme.


Featured Post from Last Week



Karen, over at Living Unabridged, talks about how she has a relaxed, classical style of homeschooling.  I love the great ideas and quotes that she shares!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please link back to this post in some way. You can use my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) if you'd like so others can learn about this link-up! Button code: <a href="http://www.livingandlearningathome.com/" target="_blank" title="Trivium Tuesdays"><img alt="Living and Learning at Home" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZNtNfqeG_W4/U0qj7mUZCfI/AAAAAAAAFbo/vhEStFGbogw/s1600/Trivium+Tuesdays+-+button.png"/></a>
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!


I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         

If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

If you want to be reminded of this link-up each week, make sure to sign up below!
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Trivium Tuesdays - Classical Link-Up #157

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Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this link-up is hosted by Living and Learning at Home (that's me!) and Classically Homeschooling and is aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.


Don't forget to follow my Pinterest boards that are a part of the All Things Classical List!

 photo AllThingsClassical-titlepic_zps4a3485e7.png

Also, please remember to only link up posts that have to do with homeschooling using the classical model of education.  Thank you for understanding this link-up's theme.


Featured Post from Last Week



I love these beautiful prints that Learning Mama made to help children remember the parts of speech!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please link back to this post in some way. You can use my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) if you'd like so others can learn about this link-up! Button code: <a href="http://www.livingandlearningathome.com/" target="_blank" title="Trivium Tuesdays"><img alt="Living and Learning at Home" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZNtNfqeG_W4/U0qj7mUZCfI/AAAAAAAAFbo/vhEStFGbogw/s1600/Trivium+Tuesdays+-+button.png"/></a>
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!


I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         

If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

If you want to be reminded of this link-up each week, make sure to sign up below!
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