We spent our week at a 3-day Classical Conversations practicum, so I’m thinking a lot about the decisions we make for our children’s education and our vision for the future. I’ll share more about that in the coming weeks, but today I’m revisiting this post because I think it’s an important one!
At this point, our family plans to stick with the Classical Conversations’ Challenge program through high school. Things could change, of course, but I think setting a long-term vision is important for maintaining our sanity in the here and now, and this one fits with our hopes and goals for our kids.
We may not do everything by the book, but as hokey as it sounds, I often say that when I went to my first informational meeting, the things I heard resonated in my soul. I just knew it was the right fit for our family. It’s our curriculum of choice, and one we’re very happy with.
That said, I know the overzealousness of some CC’ers has been a turn off for many people I know, so I’m going to say some things that might upset some people.
Because here’s the thing: at the end of the day, Classical Conversations is just a curriculum company. The combination of a curriculum and community in one package is an amazing thing—not just for the benefits the model offers homeschoolers but also as a marketing tool. And make no mistake, the CC team includes master marketers who know exactly what they’re doing. That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of the fastest growing homeschooling companies right now.
And, honestly, as an entrepreneur myself, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We’re budgeting to pay for Challenge—which will cost us upwards of $7,000 a year (not including books and supplies) when all four of our girls are in the program—and we’re willing to do that because we believe in the approach and the benefits of the program.
However, I’m part of the Classical Conversations group on Facebook, and whenever someone mentions that they’re concerned about the cost for their family’s budget or wondering about the time commitment, people respond in an almost cult-like manner, putting a guilt trip on the original poster for not prioritizing the cost or telling them that they simply won’t be able to offer the same quality on their own at home.
If someone says the program isn’t working for a particular child, they’re told to trust the system and make it work.
But, y’all, CC is just a curriculum (a curriculum created by human beings, just in case there was any confusion), and it’s not going to work for everybody.
Our family has very happily struck a balance of doing Foundations at home (or, truthfully, in the car on our way to Essentials each week) and then doing Essentials with our community. Giving up one morning a week for Foundations was putting so much stress on our schedule, and the cost (both time and money) was not working for us. Reserving a fifth weekday morning at home and then heading out in the afternoon for Essentials (which I tutor and love) has been such a huge blessing for our family that I chime in every time someone asks about doing Foundations at home to let them know that you can make it work and that some of us even enjoy doing it that way.
We need to be honest about the downsides—like the constant “upgrades” to the curriculum (which can get expensive), the annual cost (especially for larger families), the time commitment (which is a lot for families with working parents or busy schedules), and so on. It is a great fit for many, many families, and many other families use parts of it to create their own program. But let’s not make it an idol in our lives that ignores the unique situations of various families and children.
Even for classical Christian homeschoolers, CC is not the end-all, be-all of curriculum, and when we treat other choices as inferior rather than just different, I think we’re actually hurting the company’s reputation, not helping it.
(And I hope it goes without saying that this is true for every curriculum and educational philosophy…)