One of the most popular homeschooling programs currently available is Classical Conversations (CC). When CC came to our area a few years ago, I explored it as an option even though we are relaxed homeschoolers. I taught for a year in a Classical Christian school and therefore was very familiar with classical education. CC offers a number of features that interested me including the advertised community aspect. In fact, I checked it out two years in a row because I really wanted to like it and I wanted it to be a good fit for our family. In the end, we opted not to participate in CC.
There are several reasons why we chose not to join Classical Conversations. I am sharing what I see as some of the Classical Conversations negatives. This review is for parents who are exploring CC, but may be doubting their own research or perspective. I’m listing my reasons in roughly the order of importance for our particular family, starting with the most important.
It is my hope this overview of our thoughts will be helpful for other parents as they seek to make decisions for their particular child and family. Many people enthusiastically participate and current members can be very persuasive when inviting people to join. However, every family is different and not every opportunity is a good fit, no matter how much someone else may like it and recommend it.
Rigidity Of Classical Conversations Program
The rigidity of the program was one of the first red flags that Classical Conversations would not work with our child. I think CC can probably be a very positive experience for kids if they have a learning style that fits well with the program. For others, it will be disastrous.
For example, it became clear to me that if your child needs legitimate accommodations due to real learning differences or challenges, it isn’t going to be a good fit. Classical Conversations is a tightly controlled program with a clear hierarchy. They have very definite ways of doing things handed down from the corporate entity. While some families might find this rigidity a source of accountability, other families will find the rigidity stifling. We are in the latter group.
If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I would have had fewer qualms about this before I became the parent of a gifted/2e child. When you are parenting a child who doesn’t fit the normal parameters, you look at everything very differently. The tight structure I would have seen as a positive before I became a mother became a huge negative. A tight schedule with very definite parameters and very little room for rabbit trails would frustrate my child. There is a reason we became relaxed homeschoolers bordering at times on unschoolers. Classical Conversations would not fit my child at all however much I might like about the classical approach.
Performing and Perfection
There is definitely a strong performance component to Classical Conversations. One of the things people say they love about it is how amazing it is to hear the kids recite or perform all of the facts they have learned. Again, before becoming a mother I would have loved that aspect of it. I now have a child who does not like to perform in any way, shape, or form. She backed out of being a flower girl because she didn’t want people looking at her. She is not a performer. She’s not interested in singing or chanting what she is learning. She’s also not interested in recalling facts or information under pressure.
So for example, there is the Memory Masters program which rewards students who master everything and demonstrate it through multiple “proofings.” When I met with someone from CC a few years ago, she made it very clear that perfection was the standard. A memorization competition that demands perfection? I would have totally rocked that when I was a kid. I was brilliant at everything memorization – school, AWANA, VBS, etc. However, it would be a terrible fit for my daughter. Many gifted/2e kids already struggle with perfectionism. The last thing I need to do is add more fuel to the fire by putting her into a situation where the line between excellence and perfection is razor-thin to non-existent.
(I looked up Memory Masters Guide to make sure I was remembering this correctly and it appears there is some wiggle room now. They apparently do allow for a teeny teeny tiny bit of room for Mastery versus Perfection.)
However, as I said before, there is no accommodation for kids who have learning differences. From the Guide:
Can directors change the requirements for Memory Masters for students with special needs, especially those who have dyslexia, dysgraphia, or are on the autism spectrum?
Classical Conversations is honored that families who have children with different kinds of special needs like dyslexia, dysgraphia, or autism participate in the Foundations program. Students with many different abilities and capabilities enjoy, benefit from, and are valuable members of our local CC communities. We celebrate each achievement. The Memory Master title is set aside for those who are able to meet the required objectives. The director should be aware of physical limitations and may extend time and offer a break during proofing. The Memory Master requirements should remain the same for all subjects. Memory Master is not for every child, and that is really OK! If your child cannot meet the requirements for mastery, we recommend that you create your own special “Memory Master” rules and reward system for your home school.
While I believe that CC has every right to set the standards they wish, I would not feel comfortable taking my child into a situation where she would always feel “less” for not being able to do what is put out there as something to achieve, even if it is not required.
Classical Conversations Cost
Classical Conversations is not cheap. We live in a fairly affluent area, but we are not well-to-do ourselves relative to a significant portion of the population around us. I felt a distinct subtle shaming when I expressed my concern about the total cost (which I don’t think I knew about before I attended a one-on-one informational meeting). The reason I remember the feeling of shame so vividly is because it completely blindsided me. I wasn’t expecting it.
For families where money isn’t a concern, the cost of CC might not be a big deal. But I felt the cost outweighed any potential benefits Caroline might have derived from it. It was explained to me that I could become a tutor to pay for it, but I did not want to take that on for a number of reasons (including the last reason we didn’t do CC).
Parents Must Stay For Classical Conversations Sessions
Although this is last on my list here, it was perhaps most important to me individually. To Caroline? No. But for me as the mom, this was a big negative.
Classical Conversations requires that parents stay for the entire time. At that time, we were participating in a Christian drop-off co-op which we really liked (and still do to this day). I’m not going to lie. We love being able to drop Caroline off for a few hours and get some time to ourselves. It’s the only time we get a parenting break ever.
I found the idea that parents had to stay off-putting. But I especially found the reason they gave made no sense. The reason provided is that the parents need to see the tutor demonstrating how to use the materials and how to present the information. Well, I could maybe accept that if we were talking about master teachers who were highly trained. But many of the tutors are parents who are tutoring to offset the cost of their own child attending. I have a teaching degree and have been a classroom teacher. Yet I would be expected to stay to watch another parent (who may or may not be a teacher) show me how to work with my child. I could get that from a one hour video rather than being forced to sit there for hours week after week.
So the parents have to stay so they can learn from the tutors, but anyone can become a tutor if they attend a couple of days of training. The material to be presented is so challenging that parents have to be there to learn how to do it at home, but anyone can learn to be a tutor in a few short training sessions. This made no sense to me then and it still doesn’t.
In the end, I didn’t want to sit in the back of the room for hours when I had other things I could be doing with my valuable time.
Classical Conversations Negatives
So those are a few of the negatives I found when I researched Classical Conversations as an option for our family. I know there are many families who love CC and are passionate evangelists for it. But I think it’s also helpful to read reviews from people who have seriously researched it, considered it, and realized that it isn’t a good fit for every family and every child. Understanding your child is the most important part of homeschooling, far more important than any popular movement or view within the homeschooling community. If you are someone looking for “permission” to not do CC even though it is popular where you live or for someone else to say, “This wouldn’t work for our family either,” I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging. In the end, we are happy with our decision to be relaxed homeschoolers.
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“If your child needs legitimate accommodations due to real learning differences/challenges, it isn’t going to be a good fit….I would have had fewer qualms about this before I became the parent of a gifted/2e child. When you are parenting a child who doesn’t fit the normal parameters, you look at everything very differently.”
YES! You really put into words all my jumbled thoughts about Classical Conversations. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I love classical education, and I like many of the ideas behind what CC is trying to accomplish, but after visiting a community and seeing it in action, I realized it just wasn’t right for us. For an outlier like my daughter, it would just be repeatedly trying to jam her wonderfully wiggly, wild, square self into a round hole. And I am right there with you regarding the perfectionism and the perfectionist tendencies.
Thank you so much for writing this!
I’m so glad this post helped put into words your own observations. That was my main reason for writing it. As wonderful as CC is for some families, it is not going to work well for many families with a child who is wired differently. And that is okay!
The beauty of homeschooling is being able to discover what works for our child and do it with the full confidence that we’ve made the best choice for our individual child at that moment in her learning experience.
Thank you so much for commenting!
Let me tell you what’s wrong with ice ceam. Now, I’ve never eaten ice ceam, but I did look at it once. Lol. Your article cracks me up. In all seriousness, as a CC mom, I certainly can see that it isn’t the program for everyone. A certain level of proper behavior is expected on behalf of the child, but children are allowed to wiggle, to dance, to sing and basicly be children. At $12 a day, I also don’t think that this is solely a program for families with money to burn, but maybe I’m misguided. Maybe as a former professional teacher, you feel that you have nothing left to learn. How absurd to suggest that you could glean something from a mother volunteering to lead a classrom as a means of pouring into the community. Memorization may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Schooling in a community of families has both its blessings and it’s curses. One might also balk at maintaining a school schedule as freedom is a key bonus of homeschooling. While there are mqny valid reasons why CC isn’t for everyone, I really feel that your article sure missed the mark, both in content and in tone.
Thank you for sharing your perspective. 🙂
Hello 🙂 I just wanted to offer another perspective I haven’t seen represented here. I have been in CC for 7 years, my oldest now in challenge B. There are plenty of things that don’t make CC “perfect” for our family but ultimately I stay in it because of the community aspect and I remain excited about what is offered in the challenge years. I am currently directing challenge B. To me it sounds like the negatives that are being expressed here have to do with the culture of the particular community. I am not a high achieving person and I don’t push my kids to be high achieving. I ask them to give their personal best, not to compare or compete. We have never once been looked down on for this. The people in my community are relaxed while appreciating the rigor as well as the flexibility of the program. Every single level of CC is meant to be tailored to your child’s individual needs. It’s not rigid at all. As a director I have worked with kids of differing abilities and it never comes up in class. Only one of my own children have participated in memory master. She did it her last year of foundations and no other time. It was a personal accomplishment for her, not something she was competitive about nor did she compare herself to anyone else. Anyway! Just want to put it out there I that it sounds like it depends on the culture of the community. Some are not intense!
I actually don’t like ice cream, I never have, and it turns out I’m allergic to dairy milk, so your critique of her intuitive response to her child’s needs, and her own, is even funnier to me. Sarcasm does not equal authority and a superior knowledge that trumps another person’s needs simply because they aren’t the same as your own. You tried to make it sound like you found it humorous but really you just tried a subversive way to shame her because you were offended by the difference of opinion. That type of response from CC people is yet another red flag.
Thanks, Louise. 🙂
Why do CC diehards take critiques of CC so personally? Do they not look at and review other curricula? Should everyone using a curriculum they decided wasn’t for their family and why be so offended? Over and over and over I see comments from insulted CCers any time anyone provides a negative review. Feels like a cult to me at times…
YES!!!!! I am struggling with this myself. We are new to CC and Im just not diggin it. I feel like CCrs worship the program, constantly giving praise to CC and themselves and no glory to God for their childs education and learningB. I paid for a year of CC and then I found that I needed to also pay for another year of different curriculum. CC just is not enough for us
Excellent and meaningful observation , Becky, regarding the glory of God as the standard. I had an opportunity to witness something similar and noticed the element of pride.
This is my struggle as well. My son is only 5, but I would have been happy to trade his Latin Grammer for any math curriculum beyond the memory work.
Very well said Thank You!
Couldn’t have said it better. It is not right for everyone, but as a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, a child who is a Wild and rambunctious boy (both who have achieved memory master) and a child with Down syndrome, I can say it can work for your not so typical families very well. Some of my closest friends are other CC moms–women who brought meals when my child had heart surgery. That would not be if we were not on campus. And compared to some university model homeschool organizations, CC is really quite affordable. I repeat, it may not be for everyone, but to give a review without actually trying it just seems odd.
So do you buy and try absolutely every curricula before deciding it isn’t for your family? Everything from CC says to come visit, etc etc. This mother did. More than once. And decided it wasn’t for her family. Her opinion is just as valid as another’s.
I have a love-hate with CC. While I love the format, I feel the implementation has benefited their “system” more than the teachers, parents & students.
I speak from our high school experience.
My now 24 yr old (who is an RN) and my 20 yr old (manager Chick-fil-A while finishing college) both took HS challenges from CC.
We found several things:
•the expense of CC outweighed dual-credit at our local college which is $150 per credit hour.
•the teachers are parents hired to “learn” the material over the summer (or sadly, along with the students).
Depending on your campus and the quality of teachers is KEY. We intentionally chose our campus based on the teachers for that particular year. We drove further to avoid unengaged, uneducated parent/teachers who were merely filling a “teacher/director ” slot so they could afford their kids to attend.
???Teacher, Tutor, Introducer???
•CC is out in the open now, saying they are not the teacher-you as parent are-this gives them a lot of wiggle room. They are merely “introducing” the concept to the student.
**I personally have a problem with this. The whole reason for me seeking out & paying for education is because I feel ill-equipped in areas where my student needs support-we found that an “introduction” to the concept was NOT what we signed up for. Especially when it came to Chemistry & Physics.
We found, Dual crediting offered so much more, at a lower cost and **BONUS, included college credit.
•the literature and writing portion is phenomenal -both of my kids benefited greatly.
•Both my daughter and son experienced 2 challenges/years of fantastically qualified and dedicated teachers.
•we loved the syllabus
REMEMBER-IT BOILS DOWN To 2 things:
-We ran into the issue of the “hierarchy” demanding the campus To strictly abide by their regulations, instead of allowing each campus to modify, to fit the good of those students in a particular campus.
EXAMPLE: regulation says a student must not take a 9th grade math and a 10th grade science-they cannot cross or mix grades/challenges-even if they have achieved it already.
My son had already taken Algebra 1 and needed Alg 2 but technically needed the other classes for his 9th grade level-CLASSICAL CONVERSATIONS will NOT “level you up” for one class. Instead, we were told that he could “sit in on the class to better himself” (and PAY for the class, and help other students and the teacher) for a class he had already taken-while doing Algebra 2 at home.
###This is when my antennas began to wiggle. A Lot!
•Ask tons of questions.
•Adore the tutor.
•Know up front
-The teachers and directors are paid a fraction of the tuition cost.
That’s why I would love to see more university models start.
Texas has dozens of them. Google university model Texas.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. This is really helpful for other parents to read so they can see the various pros and cons.
For 2e kids, the not “level you up” thing is a very real problem. Twice-exceptional kids are all over the place in terms of abilities. They can be below grade level in one subject and several grade levels above in others. That’s the context in which I wrote my post and your comment about how this policy impacted your child illustrates it isn’t just a problem for 2e kids, but also for other kids who learn some subjects more quickly than others.
It’s hard to fathom being told to pay to take a class so your child can sit and “better himself” while serving as a free tutor for the rest of the class. Crazy!
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!
The parents that lead the Challenge programs are not teachers. They’re tutors. The student’s parents are the teachers. The tutors simply help facilitate discussion throughout community day, review material from the week’s lessons and go over each strand with the students. CC is very up front with the fact that the parents are the teacher. So you, as the parent, get to decide how to scale each week’s assignments, grade your child’s work and teach your child the material.
The thing you have to remember about CC is that it is made up of families of Christians, who know we aren’t perfect and are sinners. I’m sorry you feel the people you have met don’t seem to possess the humility God tells us to have. However, I do feel the need to clarify a few problematic areas in the article.
First, the quote you pulled up isn’t the Foundations Guide, its from the memory Masters guide/section. Memory Masters isn’t at all designed for everyone. Its entirely optional. The majority of kids don’t do it because either they don’t want to, or the aren’t able to master all the material, and neither are the parents in most instances. It almost always for the older kids who want the T-shirt and bragging rights – and even among the older kids, most don’t do the Memory Masters program.
Second, each community (and they are communities of believers) is different. While they all do the same basic curriculum, each community is essentially a franchise. Each community has its own personality based upon the people who make up the community and the Director/Tutors. Some are more rigid than others and some are much more relaxed. Visiting and experiencing the groups in your community should be a step to see if you “fit”. And if you don’t have one nearby, think about start your own.
Third, Autistic/ADHD kids often do well in community because the tutors are trained to use all types of learning styles. But it is still a classroom. There are still some rules. And another family/child shouldn’t have to be neglected for one other. A ‘helper’ is often a way to alleviate any issues in the classroom.
Fourth, it isn’t a babysitting service and nor should it be. Parents need to be there because it helps to keep them engaged in their home school, helps the kids to see them as their teacher, and the majority of parents have never experience the classical method and therefore need to be shown how to present it. Each parent is encouraged to expand or build on the curriculum to suit their child/classroom at home during the week. There are so many ways to build upon the memory work, I can’t agree that it’s a rigid curriculum. Many do their memory practice in the car. Also, they class leaders are called tutors because the parents are the primary teachers.
Lastly, tuition is approximately $14 per week per child ($335 per YEAR) – or the cost of a few cups of coffee. Private school is approximately $8k per year where we live or approx $250 per WEEK . There is a supply fee that pay for everything a child will need throughout the year in class. I guarantee if you are on track with your home school, you’re gonna pay at least this much for supplies in a year. Even public school kids pay a bunch upfront for supplies (tissue, folders, etc). Except for the $85 registration fee that goes to corporate to pay for the website, staff – every dime paid in tuition/supply/site fees goes to the tutors – who almost always use the money to pay their own kids tuition – and the director, who uses most of it to pay for insurance, state licensing, etc. – or to the location/building. No one is getting rich.
CC isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. God leads us all in the direction he wants us to in. But I encourage you/others to really get a look at more than one nearby community, talk to parents, and get a deeper look at the program, or any program, before deciding whether it would work for you. It is impossible to get a really clear picture of anything, by doing what amounts to a drive by.
Hi! Just wanted to debunk the “CC is less expensive than private school” myth.
$335 tuition, $85 mandatory apication fee, $50 mandatory supplies fee, (and not including facility fees which are usually around $50) to $470 for Foundations only, which meets for 3 hours, once a week, for 24 weeks in a year.
Private schools meet 6-8 his a day, 5 days a week, for 36 weeks of the year, approx.
Extrapolate CC’s cost to 6 hours a day: $470 x 2 = $940, 5 days a week: $940 x 5 = $4700, and 36 weeks instead of 24: $4700 x 1.5 = $7,050.
It’s true that $7,050 is less than 8,000, BUT at private school you don’t have to stay at school with your kids.
It’s just not a valid comparison.
Not to mention that the older years are $1400 not $350, and that does not include all the extras
I also may be mistaken (which wouldn’t surprise me), but doesn’t the tuition fee not even cover the cost of books? I thought the initial 335$ tuition was for the just the class.
So if I am correct, that doesn’t even include the cost of books.
Totally agree with this comment l, except the tuition portion. For us as a 1 income family it’s hard to come up with, that’s why I tutor. The rest I agree 100%!!! No program is going to be a great fit for all families, but to say it doesn’t fit kids with special needs is untrue, as I’ve seen the opposite be true. Hardly anyone does memory master as it does require alot of studying to be accomplished.
There are a few things I dont agree with the “powers that be” but I don’t let this ruin my whole experience. I grew up in a strick Christian school and then went to a strict Christian college, I did not agree with every single rule they had, but followed them (mostly) without making a fuss. If you cant do that, then no CC is not for you and probably not any other program like it.
It is unfair and rude for anyone to say that CCer’s are cultish. Especially when they are defending their choice and giving their perspective on things.
The OP gave her opinion as wall are able to do, but I do feel she I’d misgiving some things like MM, without giving all the facts.
Again I do feel the cost is a bit to high, but 8t is a sacrifice we are willing to pay for our family. Our CC family is one of the most kindest and GRACIOUS group of Christians I have met! It is an honor to do our homeschool journey with them! ? my oldest is in Challenge A this year and seeing foundations and essentials come together has been awesome! It is definitely a program to look further into, and visit a challenge and essentials class even if your kids are littles… see where this program leads too. And if you are interested find a campus that fits you and your family because I do think some are different than others!
A couple of things…
There is a well-known and oft-repeated saying in gifted/2e and special needs circles.
If you’ve met one gifted child, you’ve met one gifted child.
If you’ve met one 2e child, you’ve met one 2e child.
What makes them outliers is the fact that they don’t fit into any box neatly. Every 2e child, for example, has a completely different set of gifts and learning differences.
My 2e child isn’t like the 2e child of any of my readers who have one. They are ALL different. Some of them are WILDLY different. About the only thing they all have in common is they don’t fit into traditional learning structures. That’s what makes parenting and homeschooling them SO challenging.
You said: “but to say it doesn’t fit kids with special needs is untrue, as I’ve seen the opposite be true.”
Great. You’ve seen CC work well for one special needs child. Or a few. Super. I’m happy for them. Truly. I want kids to be happy and learn. But CC is NEVER EVER going to work for ALL kids with special needs.
As far as the claims that it is unfair and rude to say that CC families can’t be cultish… I challenge anyone to read through this series of comments on this site alone with pro-CC blinders off and tell me that there aren’t cultish elements in some CC groups and some CC leaders.
I can also show you a breakdown of how many people each month end up on this post because they searched in Google for some variation of “Is CC a cult?” and how many people search that on average in Google each month with the keyword tool I use. They didn’t get that idea from me. So it’s coming from somewhere.
On the nose, Sallie. I have PG 2Es.
Gifted kids have several distinguishing hallmarks:
Asynchronistity, mentioned above: they develop various skills at different times, so they may be way ahead in one area, on level in another, and behind in another. It’s completely normal and part of being gifted for many.
Excitabilities: They appear to be over-excited about what others deem to be nothing. This can be misinterpreted and can make the classroom experience difficult. What is happening is that they have insights into things and often realize the implications long before people around them, so they’re actually acting completely appropriately. But most other people don’t catch up for awhile, sometimes a very long while.
Divergence from the norm *and each other*: As a person’s IQ moves away from what is considered average, they also move away from each other, in terms of interests, what specific parts of giftedness are strongest with them, and more. You’d think a Profoundly Gifted (PG) person would have more in common with another PG person than someone with average intelligence, but that’s not always true. A PG person who is passionate about guitar may have more in common with a person who is also passionate about it, rather than a PG person whose passion and gifts are sculpture or math.
And as mentioned above, that means that what works and is “normal” for one gifted person may be completely off-base for another gifted person. It’s why “gifted education” so often fails in public and private schools, because the one-size-fits-all approach that is common is diametrically opposed to the needs of gifted individuals.
When you add in the “2” of “2E” (Twice Exceptional, meaning both gifted but with some kind of disability), then you get into even more uniqueness, from the PG kid who is dyslexic and covers it so well no one guesses he can barely read, to the gifted artist who is both deaf and an Olympic swimmer in training.
I have considered CC myself several times, and several of my kids’ friends are in it. But my kids are all gifted in the PG range, and two are 2E. I know the pattern of their thinking and inquisitiveness and creativity, and know it would not work for us, any more than 4-H was a fit.
Excellent points, Esther & Sallie! In this way, CC is more rigid than public school! In public school one can take a variety of levels in classes depending on abilities in each subject!
So instead of having MORE freedom and flexibility as a homeschoool parent, one actually has less in the Challenge program.
Also of note -most challenge parents do not stay on campus- this is not required for children in the challenge program.
Challenge guides cannot be viewed by challenge parents prior to signing up for the class & the challenge director/tutor only receives 3 afternoon academic training sessions to teach the program.
the $ (which is far greater than $12 a day that is often touted by CC Corp – if one counts the cost of tuition for foundations alone – excluding the exorbitant registration fee, which just jumped from $85/student to $155/student- just the tuition alone is more than $13/day… but that’s before tons of other fees).
Also good to know- challenge directors cannot/do not grade your students’ papers. Due to this and other factors that make parents LESS involved – it leads to the feeling that NO ONE is in charge. This is concerning, especially when high school credits are involved.
Also- are “communities” truly a group of believers in Christ?? It is my understanding that one need not be a believer to join CC – and certainly not necessary to adhere to any statement of faith in Biblical standards. I’m aware of non-Christian families who are members as well as families who do not adhere to biblical mandates. I’m even aware of tutors and some in leadership who do not adhere to Christian values and ethics. … ??
Thanks for sharing details about your experience.
Your comment about the fact that being a Christian isn’t required for membership surprised me. The website is pretty clear about it being a Christ-centered learning environment. Are parents and tutors not required to sign a basic statement of faith to participate? (I don’t have time to dig for the answer right now.)
Your perspective that it feels like no one is in charge is an interesting one. I wonder if that is a common feeling among CC parents?
Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment!
Tutors are required to agree with/abide by a statement of faith, but not parents. Anyone can join, regardless of beliefs ?
Thanks, Han, for clarifying that. I have to admit that I’m surprised that CC membership is open to people who don’t profess faith in Christ. There is so much talk about the community aspect of it and about the Christian fellowship that I assumed it was only open to professing Christians. I somehow missed that detail at the time.
So, being part of CC for 9 years, different communities and levels, I just wanted to clear up a few things… It is definitely not a good fit for everyone-and that’s ok:) That’s the beauty of homeschooling. Memory Masters, to start with, is completely optional. The majority of participants in CC do not even do it. Only one of my 6 kids did it, and it was just because he wanted to, and he could. As far as challenge level goes, the director is NOT your child’s teacher. They are there to facilitate the conversations and allow the kids to share with each other. With that being said-the director is also there for the parents who are the teachers… Many parents do not feel equipped to teach their children at home and this is where I feel CC is most helpful… It is not a fit for everyone, but the “rigidity” described and rules are actually because it is a nation/worldwide program… The cycles repeat and everyone is on the same cycle. This is actually a huge advantage of CC to me and others that move frequently,.. When we moved to a new community we automatically had ONE thing that was the same… New church, new house, new neighbors, etc. but the CC format was the same and easy to pick up right where we left off. I do appreciate your perspective and have no problem with the critique, just trying to clear up any misconceptions.
And this exact tone is why parents should be wary of joining CC. After having done 4 years of CC in 4 different communities and tutoring one of those years, I would like to applaud Sallie’s article. She hit the nail on the head. As for $12 a day, maybe for Foundations, but Essentials and Challenge parents face a much larger cost.
I’ve always said CC had a slightly cult-ish sway and have been careful not to drink the Kool-aid, and based on your (graceless) comment alone, I will definitely stick to that mantra and warn other parents to do the same.
I agree with you, completely, Sunday. Thank you for taking the words from my mouth. 🙂
First off, I want to just say, this is a good article, and you clearly have spent your valuable time writing it, so I want to thank you for you, and your perspective as a dedicated mom of a gifted child.
However, I wanted to give a perspective of a 14 year old (CH. 1) student of Classical Conversations. To give you a bit of background, so you know where I am coming from; I am a daughter of a former Tutor, former Director, and current mom of 4 children (who have all been through the program.) We have attended/enrolled in CC for 12 years, going on our 13th.
As a student, I find my perspective differently from yours, not only because you are an adult, but because you have taught, and I have not. But I have also been taught, whereas, you have not.
I just wanted to clarify a few things you mentioned:
1. “One of the things people say they love about it is how amazing it is to hear the kids recite or perform all of the facts they have learned. Again, before becoming a mother I would have loved that aspect of it. I now have a child who does not like to perform in any way, shape, or form.”
– As a student who has enrolled, I can honestly say, I’ve never been a performer either, I despise acting, and dancing, etc. And I have minor anxiety when it comes to public speaking, and talking in front of others. Although, when you had said this, it puzzled me, because it totally makes sense that some don’t like to perform at all, but that shouldn’t be a reason, in my opinion. As someone who doesn’t like to perform in “any way, shape, or form” I still achieved the title of a Super Memory Master, which you can find here: https://www.wfmynews2.com/article/news/education/triad-whiz-kid-will-blow-you-away-with-her-memory/432045141
Your daughter may dislike performing, and that is totally okay! But CC doesn’t require dancing, singing, or performing at all, really. In fact, I did most of my reciting without singing or dancing. I used the songs as a crutch, in fact, I sang it in my head to help guide me to say the next words. The students get no punishment, and the don’t get discredited if they’re unable to recite the facts.
2. You had said, in your own words, throughout the post, that CC isn’t very friendly to those with dyslexia, and other conditions. As a sibling to a brother, who is now 21, who has dyslexia, went through the program with barely any struggle. I say “barely” because he still refused to recite some of the facts, or study them, but he’s never complained about his experience, to this day. He still appreciates the program, and what it provided him. I cannot speak from experience when it comes to 2E children, or gifted children, but I do know this: I know plenty gifted children within the program who thrive in it. In fact, they get excited when it comes to that special day of the week!
3. “Classical Conversations requires that parents stay for the entire time.” This reason made me really, really sad. I say this because although me, nor my siblings are gifted children, my mom willingly stayed with us every week. No exceptions. But to hear you say you didn’t prefer to stay with your child, it made me overwhelmingly sorrowful. I was also a bit surprised because you’d think that as a mom you would want to stay with your child, gifted or not. Not only do you want to see what they’re being taught, and if they’re being taught correctly, but also being there for them in general. As an introverted kid myself, I didn’t ever want my mom to leave my classroom (even though she did have to leave to go visit my siblings classes). It is no personal attack against you, I was just a bit surprised.
I’m sorry for my rant, I just felt really captivated to write this, I hope you understand, this is just a perspective, and it is no attack against you, or your article.
-Evalyn, 14, CH 1, CC Student of 2020
Evalyn C. and Evalyn B.,
You are free to leave a comment and share your perspective. But please leave one comment with one name. You have the same IP address with two different emails on two comments.
I’d like to respond to your comments, but I’ve said what I needed to say.
However, I just asked my daughter if she felt badly because we dropped her off at co-op and she laughed and said, “No.” We’re together 24/7 around here as we homeschool and have our own business. A few hours at co-op once a week to learn to be her own person and spread her wings a bit is a great thing for her as an only child. The fact that someone sees this as a problem just makes me shake my head.
You disregarded my entire comment, which leads me to believe you are avoiding my point. I don’t see you not wanting to stay as a problem at all, if you look back at my comment, it would say otherwise.
Anyway, like you have mentioned, every child is different, and no child is the same. I respect that you asked your daughter, however, if you would’ve asked me when I was younger, my answer would’ve been the opposite, which supports my point “no child is the same”.
I also said that this was no personal attack against you, several times. Don’t get defensive, I am not discrediting you at all.
My comment was just a perspective for you to be open minded about. Once again, I am only a student, and I was very respectful in my last comment, so I am offended you feel that you would speak to me that way.
There are 162 comments on this thread now. I’ve been called everything from stupid to uninformed to dishonest to I don’t remember what else.
Did you do me the courtesy of reading all the comments here, especially the ones I’ve already made in reply, before commenting? Maybe you did. All I know is that you agreed with someone who was very rude and condescending to me and then proceeded to leave another comment from the same IP address using a different email. I’m not sure if you really are 14 years old or a mom. Or someone sent by Classical Conversations to do damage control since it is the sign-up season for CC.
This post was simply me sharing my point of view which I do all the time on my site (which you would know if you read all the subsequent comments I’ve made). But the condescending comments from the pro-CC people have steadily made me dislike CC more and more.
If you truly are 14 years old and your motives are pure, then thank you for sharing your perspective. I approve every comment left by people who disagree with me because I believe in free speech and I”m not afraid of people sharing their perspective. However, I also reserve the right to respond as I see fit and that is what I did.
I hope my explanation of why I find your two comments somewhat suspect makes my position clear.
I am sorry to hear you are receiving messages that offend you, and they should be more careful with their words.
I should have been more clear with what I was agreeing within that comment: “they are still allowed to wiggle and dance” is truly what I was agreeing to, but I see now that wasn’t very clear, and I apologize.
I see that your suspicions are very much adequate, and I can see how you wouldn’t believe me, but I am, in fact, 14, and I am currently a student in CC. The separate comments were not supposed to send that way, I have two gmails and I thought I used the same for both. So, when I tried to delete the “Evalyn C.” comment, I found there was no way of doing that. Sorry for the confusion. And don’t worry, CC does not send out people to attack pages like this, and I am not a mom, I can assure you, I just love writing, lol! I came across your article when I was looking up a debate format for CC, and your post showed up.
I appreciate your openness to other opinions, and I hope you still understand mine as a student.
We were in the program for seven years. I tutored Foundations 7 years and Essentials 4 years. I had five children in the program. I appreciate your perspective as a child in the program and I’m glad you had a good experience.I know there are some students who have had those good experiences. There may be some more that you might also like to be aware of from the perspective that is different from Sallie’s. Her perspective is from visiting and research. Mine is from 7 years in the program with my five children.
I think it’s kind of you to write in. You seem old enough to be given accurate information and to withstand discussion. There are some things about the company you might like to be aware of:
I liked your point that you didn’t feel the need to “perform” as in dancing and such. I’m glad it worked well for you, even as an introvert. I do have to ask you … are you aware that what Sallie meant in her article was that students must perform in the sense of remembering the memory work, not specifically in the areas of dancing and singing? Tutors, of course, not only introduce the memory work, they ask the students to remember it and then play 30 minutes of memory review games. Many, many, many of these games are competitive in nature and rely on children being quick and able to remember word for word, zero mistakes. Are you aware that in the Memory Master Guide it explicitly stated (until at least 2-3 years ago) that NO accommodations could be made other than taking little breaks? The goal was “grace” but without any grace. Students were allowed to misspeak but they MUST self-correct and repeat the correct word-for-word work. That was explicit in the Guide. That was their version of “grace”.
In fact, you may have had gracious, wonderful, intelligent tutors who designed your classes to be child-friendly and respectful of children. There is something you need to know about this program: for every tutor who is wonderful, CC didn’t ask them to be wonderful or train them to be so. The training does NOT train tutors to be wonderful or even to know the material. In fact, so many of them have no experience or skills. They approach children incorrectly and damage them.
Now, there are many tutors who are educationally minded and understand educational theories and child-appropriate behaviors. These tutors set up wonderful classrooms, accommodate for those with difficulties, create memory reviews that are non-competitive and don’t highlight only those with quick memories, understanding appropriate behavior at various ages. These tutors are remembered as being among the best by families and, in their students’ families’ minds, these families attribute all of these wonderful experiences … to the company. But you need to know that in training, NONE of those things were taught, trained, or encouraged by the company. In fact, when asked, the company would respond that tutors didn’t have to do that good of a job. I remember being told about a tutor who scowled the entire day, “A tutor is not required to smile.” I remember being told (when discussing the difficulties of a tutor whose students were leaving crying each day), I was told directly to not worry about it because, “It’s only one day out of the week.”
Do you know what else I remember? I’m going to say that there are absolutely wonderful things I remember about our years in the program. We met great friends and I worked hard to a wonderful and appropriate educator within the restrictions the company placed upon tutors. But here are other things I remember:
I remember dyslexics with low working memory and word recall being dead last in every memory game. My son is a diagnosed dyslexic (there is a difference between someone who is called “dyslexic” by their parent and one who is diagnosed … I don’t know if your brother is dyslexic or not … I am a certified remediator for dyslexics and I am aware that many people toss the term around without diagnosis). But my son was often in classes where the instructor had ZERO knowledge of the the disability and ZERO knowledge of how to appropriately work with a classroom of students on varied levels. People who do not know what they are doing often do major damage. They can do major damage to a child who is ADD, one who is on the spectrum … and you NEED to know that CC’s training does NOT require anyone to know anything about these different children or to find out or to do a good job with them. At all.
I remember children whose memory was pretty stellar without trying really all that hard. These are the lauded children. There was neither recognition of student character at the end of the year nor recognition of interesting bits about the students. No, it’s about Memory Master and performance. That is the sign of an educationally deficient company that has almost zero knowledge of educational theory.
I remember our director saying children couldn’t play outside if the temperature was under 50 degrees (when the schools here have their number as -20 degrees). The number of 50 degrees is completely unreasonable and not child-friendly.
I remember our director controlling the mess so much that zero mess could potentially be made. She admitted she didn’t like children and that was why she didn’t tutor. Her dislike of children showed. The children didn’t really like her all that much and she favored her own children regularly. That is who CC hired to direct.
I remember adults seeing our director mistreat one of my children.
I remember a substitute tutor who slapped one of my children and then was promoted not only to have her own community but to be a Support Manager. That is who CC hired.
I remember a tutor who spoke in a monotone all day long and the children never moved from their seats. Challenge A kids … from 9-3.
I remember this same tutor wouldn’t let those kids sing a memory song, “because someone might not know it.” I remember asking a Support Manager about that and the answer? The answer? The answer from a program whose PRIMARY purpose of the Foundations years was to teach children how to memorize so they could USE those skills in later years … the answer was that, “The tutor is not required to allow children to sing in the classroom.” That wasn’t even the question. She shut a child down from singing memory work.
I remember that same tutor being so confused in math (and telling me that she was that confused and didn’t know it) that the children left confused and in tears. That is NOT math discussion. She allowed error after error to stand … not because she valued discussion … because she didn’t even know the errors were there.
I remember being asked to come to a meeting while my family was going through something very hard. The reason? “We wanted to discuss your concerns.” Then I found out it was a lie. When I couldn’t come to the meeting, I was called and told I couldn’t tutor until the problem was resolved. The problem I was never told about. There were no accusations or safety concerns. They were just being over controlling and trying to get rid of someone who wasn’t a sheep who followed every word from the program (who never ever wanted to improve or admit fault).
I remember being told I would not be tutoring again because I was too experienced (but they also said I was empowering of the parents). Does that make sense?
I remember being told that my director didn’t like it that people wanted their children in my class. I asked and, no, neither I nor any families had ever caused a problem with people liking being in my class. But hey … mediocrity is better than excellence, right? Who in their right mind would want a high quality tutor speaking into their children’s lives?
I remember being told that I needed to share my concerns with leadership (I had, but they certainly didn’t believe me … even though CC promotes Matthew 18 above all else, THEY DO NOT APPLY THAT TO THEMSELVES). I had been brutally silent about my concerns other than speaking to leadership. And get this. What they said next was, “Because you have shared your concerns with leadership, we feel you are not philosophically on board.” Can you reconcile those two statements? And then they ended with trying to play the God card by saying, “But don’t worry. God can use this in your life.”
You know what they said then, Evalyn? (And, mind you, this response was layers deep. They came up with these answers from Director to Support Manager to Area Manager to Regional Manager). They said, “And you’re very influential so we would counsel you to be careful in telling people your opinions about this meeting. Because we see what happened here differently than you do.”
How healthy is that as a company, Evalyn? It’s desperately disgusting. They are the opposite of healthy. I recommend you read a wonderful book called “Growth Mindset” by Carol Dweck. I recommend you read up on some educational theory. You’ll probably really like it.
I remember a Support Manager telling one of my friends that she was undermining a community because she had planned a good-bye lunch for me at my community that was five minutes away. He said that parents wouldn’t be back in time for Essentials so she was undermining the community.
I remember my director lying and saying food was not allowed in a particular room because she didn’t want my good bye party to happen. Food was allowed in there regularly. But she lied to someone who was not at our community, so she got away with it. Evalyn, that room they were going to say “good bye” to me in? It was the room I taught in and IT WAS THE ROOM in which we had our inside lunches. She lied.
Are you aware that there are MAJOR issues with the business structure? That they operate as a for profit while trying to call themselves a ministry (with the goal of trying to let that word “ministry” substitute for “nonprofit” which is a tax designation that they DO NOT HAVE)? That they have carefully worded their legal papers to let all the burden of being a for profit business hosted in a nonprofit location (a church) which jeopardizes tax exempt statuses … that burden gets passed onto the homeschool mom director? That CC is very carefully protected from it? Are you aware that they make people sign forms that they will use mediation should a problem arise, but that they have their lawyers send cease & desist memos? So we have to use mediation but they can threaten court?
Are you aware that people are barely and rarely allowed to question or say something negative about their company? That they are sent to their local directors for answers? Have you read any dystopian novels? Are you aware of the answers given to people who have questions who then go to their directors?
The majority of the answers are:
You just don’t understand the classical method.
Trust the method.
I’ll ask someone above me.
Returns with another non or partial answer.
Are you aware that ind discussions with a North Carolina tax assessor the company did not disclose that their communities are primarily for profit? They they kept that disclosure to themselves (which is the primary concern that was being discussed)? Then they received a letter from the tax assessor saying that all concerns were considered solved? And that Robert Bortins waved that letter in front of the faces of all leadership to prove they were absolved? And that someone called that tax assessor to find out more and in conversation with that tax assessor, the tax assessor discovered that the communities are almost exclusively nonprofit and he immediately did more research and produced another letter? Do you think Robert Bortins will wave THAT letter under the noses of all the leadership?
Here is a CPA reporting and the letters are included: https://homeschoolcpa.com/tax-assessor-clears-confusion-on-cc-communities-using-churches/?fbclid=IwAR2B5kyGvhbQBqVngQX3OAHH9gxegdUwFnTAl3xsEFtZnfDc4joAJrmnr1k
You seem like a girl who likes to think and consider her words and consider information. I appreciate that effort in a person. I think you should continue doing that, continue researching, continue finding out more, and keep an open mind as your form your opinions.
I left out the majority of my stories. But I’ll end with just one point. In Bloom’s Taxonomy of thought, he lists it as so in order from least challenging to most: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create. In schools, teachers strive to have children doing activities where children are doing the higher level skills, which naturally result in the remembering and understanding. Have you ever done some research and through it you learned facts without necessarily trying to memorize them? That is what teachers do. What CC does time and time again (and for years and years in Foundations) is to have children working on the very lowest level. The very lowest level. They spend HOURS on this level every week and are NEVER pushed into the higher levels except perhaps during their 30 minutes of “science” (which is often VERY poorly done by the way). I want you to be aware that what CC does is operate without having considered educational theory and what is entirely best for students. They have a very narrow and ahistorical view of classical education. That is why many people call them neoclassical. They just kind of make up their own version of what classical is and then call it “classical”.
The problems abound. And it’s probably good to know. And, by the way, when you attempted to use your words to manipulate Sallie into feeling bad for not wanting to stay with her daughter and then claimed that you were doing nothing of the sort, your logical fallacies were quite obvious. It was especially obvious when you claimed to be offended by her very factual statement.
It hurts my heart to see a mom so burned from a program. You are absolutely correct: nothing is regulated. Tutors are not trained. Directors can be almost anyone. There can be and absolutely are problems.
Yet- public schools have such a shortage of teachers that they’ll hire anyone with a piece of paper. One of my sister’s coworkers shot the principal and VP at the end of the year several years ago. Abuse happens too. My sister is reserved with what she tells me because she supports school more than homeschooling, but I’ve heard dozens of stories from her, a fifth grade teacher, of children who get to her class unable to even read.
I am grateful to homeschool. I will use CC. It works. No- it is not perfect. A lot leans on the quality of any tutor as an individual. I carefully assess Challenge instructors and will pull my child if it goes poorly. Yet- that is true everywhere. Perhaps knowing, as I do, how much learning actually happens in an elementary education degree makes me more quick to dismiss it as a gold standard for judging how well a teacher will teach or an adult will study when they need to. My ADD child had me in class with him, communicating with his tutor beforehand.
I watch the CC tutors, and they only get one day a week to perform, observed by me. It is enough.
I also have several years of experience teaching in the public school system, and I learned more from watching “uneducated” moms tutor in the cc model then I ever learned in my education degree. Seriously, the idea that these are uneducated tutors and therefore you have more valuable things to do with your time entirely misses the point of the community. I totally understand that it doesn’t meet the needs of your child, although I’ve seen special needs and gifted children thrive in CC, too.
I have friends who are members of CC and love it. I decided it was not right for my child for many of the same reasons you did. It would not be a good fit for her learning style AT ALL. One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the ability to tailor your child’s education to him/her. So we chose a different path. When people come to me asking about homeschooling options, I do present CC as one of the many resources in our area. I think it is important to do your research and look a variety of homeschool approaches/curriculum/programs. CC works very well for some. But it’s not for everyone. If one size fit all, we wouldn’t be homeschooling in the first place! 😉
Well said, Elizabeth! One of the best parts of homeschooling is the ability to tailor our child’s education and eliminate what doesn’t work. I’m so thankful for that!
Hi Sallie, thanks for this article- very helpful for families who have similar questions about CC. We are part of a classical co-op that formed independently after the group spent some years as an official CC group. The co-op was inspired by the good in CC and changed other parts for reasons very similar to what you explained above. Our co-op offers classical content and teaching/learning styles with a less-rigid structure than CC, but still a rigorous education.
Also, our family joined our classical co-op in 7th grade when the CC-type format changed from heavy memorization and repetition into more varied, free-thinking work for the older kids. The younger years in the CC Foundations-style would not have fit our homeschool at all (just like you explained above), but the differences in the jr. high/HS format made it a perfect fit for my daughter and our family. We are planning to stay through high school.
Love your blog. Thanks for all your work.
Thank you for sharing about your family’s experience with CC and how you have adapted through the years to make homeschooling work for you. That is what it is all about!
I’ve been weighing the pros and cons as well. I can easily cover everything in the Foundations and Essentials program myself, especially if I invested in IEW’s materials and just the Foundations book. So why pay over $1000 for it? But, that’s just for my daughter. My son would be entering as a 7th grader, and he has had none of the Foundations/Essentials program, nor the rigors of the older program. I LOVE that it is rigorous. I think our kids need a community of some sort. But after doing 1 year of an average co op with basic classes, I don’t know if I want to pay to rise early one day a week, plus bring along a 2 yr old. I think I might look into something else. Thanks for your help!
There are so many factors to consider when choosing homeschooling materials and activities, aren’t there? If you have an interest in CC there is no harm in looking into it. But I do know cost is an issue for many families, especially if they have multiple children and plan to do the program the entire way through (which is the point of CC and the way it is set up). One vblog I watched explained the cost to get her children through the entire thing and by then later years they would be paying a lot every month. For some families that is no problem. For others it is not even in the realm of possibility.
Best wishes as you decide!
Thank you for writing back, I truly appreciate it, in all honesty. And I am sorry you have had some tough experiences through the CC program, it really pains me to hear some of these traumatic events that occurred during your 7 year visit. I also am aware of your credibility, as a Specialist in dyslexia, dyslexics, etc. And as as a tutor and a parent. So, it was an obvious pleasure reading the lengthy comment you had posted.
So, regarding your first sentences: I was not aware she meant that, so thank you for pointing that out. I still feel my point was credible because, like I said, I struggle with talking in front of others, which supports my point in that I didn’t like to recite in front of tutors, parents or my peers. in fact, I wasn’t very good at it either. Does that make sense, Mrs. Brooke?
Regarding your next few sentences: I was aware of the guide situation, (I’m talking about the Memory Master section in the guide, by the way) However, the guide never says students MUST accomplish Memory Master, or Memory of Excellence. In fact, most of the kids in my class never did either MM, or MOE. When I said there are no repercussions or punishments if the students can’t recall the facts, I was implying the memory work in class, and memory games, sorry if that wasn’t clarified. I also understand that you stated the “grace but with no grace.”, your statement: “that was their version of “grace”.” I tend to disagree with this ONLY because I do feel this standard of CC is a good one, because if this rule was not enforced, everyone would do MMS and MOE. Based off of experience with MMS and MOE, I can inform you that if they gave any more grace and leisure than they already do, I repeat, everyone would do it, and it wouldn’t be as rewarding. HOWEVER, this totally depends on the location and community, not the program! Because it is enforced heavily in some places, and lightly in others. I know this because I have been to 6 different communities, and 3 in SC, and 3 in NC, and I have taken either MM or MOE in each of them. I had completely different experiences with all of them. And not ALL were positive!! I am not saying this is right that CC’s are somewhat inconsistent in this criteria, I am just saying that you can’t blame your experiences you encountered at your specific community and judge that EVERY community is that way. Does that make sense?
“You may have had gracious tutors..”: I have. I have had gracious tutors, Mrs. Brooke. However, I have also dealt with the bad ones, just like your experiences. Like I had mentioned, I did Super Memory Masters when I was 11 at a certain location. I was being proofed by my tutor. After two hours of proofing with no break, she looked up at me and said these words: “Good job, who knew you knew all that?” (in a mono-tone/sarcastic tone), with that she then patted me on the back un-enthusiastically, and walked off. That is just one of my bad experiences, but I, nor my family saw this as a company issue, but rather an issue within the community. I would like to ask you a question also, how many communities have you been to (not visited, stayed at for at least a semester.)? How many locations? And how many different directors?
Based on your experiences with the director, tutors, etc.: First off, I am greatly sorry about your experience regarding your good-bye party, but I find it amazing that a few of your friends made it a priority to make your departure memorable, and endearing. That is what CC community is all about! But back to your experience, this also boils down to your community, and your director. (who, by the way, sounds disgraceful.) This is, however, should NOT paint a picture of every CC community, nor the company itself as a whole. (The answer above also includes your experiences with the tutors also.)
Regarding your statement “They approach children incorrectly and damage them.”:
I hate to keep disagreeing with you, Mrs. Brooke, but I genuinely and respectful disagree, and here’s why: Although you’re right about CC not specifically encouraging “being nice”, respectful, etc. However, the DO encourage the Bible, and they DO encourage Biblical (Christ-like) behaviors on not only the tutors, but directors, parents, and kids! Some tutors aren’t nice, and they aren’t behaving like the Bible emboldens, but that doesn’t mean the CC program did not enforce it. You know? Also, your situation encounter about: “It’s only one day out of the week.”, and how your director hated kids: IS TRULY DISGUSTING!! But this does NOT, like I keep repeating, mean that every community is this way! And if you feel it does, you’re being overly judgmental, and lack open-mindedness and experience. I hope this makes sense.
You sound like a good tutor, which gives you a lot of credibility which I will not refuse to give credit where credit is due. It sounds like you were a well-liked tutor, and parents would probably pay more to have their kids in your class, and for good reason! You have a good heart, and good intentions. But, like I’ve said it is all based on community and NOT the program. My mom dealt with a similar situation that you had with the hierarchy of people. She was also told you be content, and trust the method. HOWEVER, did any of the Borton’s say this to her? No. Did someone with a higher authority than the regional director/manager? No.
Now, I don’t know the whole circumstance, so I am judging this by your comment alone.
I can’t reply to all of what you said at the moment, but if there is anything you would like to discuss further, I am open to talking more, as CC is a very big passion of mine, and my family’s.
So, I am in contact with people from communities all over the nation. It wasn’t until that contact occurred that I realized these sorts of things are a company issue. I actually believed, as you did, that this was unique to multiple bad apples in our area. But when this is widespread, one realizes that the company has created an atmosphere and environment in which these things are promoted/allowed. Because these sorts of extremely unhealthy situations occur (and strikingly similar) all over the nation (reported by parents, directors, and above) … it leads me to believe that, unfortunately, yes … this is a company issue. Also, it is Bortins who is 100% aware of the tax exempt status fraud, the misclassifying of tutors as Independent Contractors, and if someone attempts to try and get a complaint or suggestion or idea all the way “up” … it will not happen. That is a company problem, not a local problem. In fact, just take one look at their facebook page and you will see, over time, that they delete honest questions. I remember asking honest questions (on a tutor forum) about a discrepancy in the Essentials Guide because I was tutoring and wanted to know which piece was correct. They deleted my very respectful question and then gave me multiple nonanswers in a private email. They wanted the TUTOR FORUM to be a “rah-rah” location and believed questions to be threatening. Any company that believes questions to be threatening is highly unhealthy.
I believe they have been taught to run a company in an unhealthy way. For instance, in the past, the military would be so hierarchical that a lower ranked individual felt uncomfortable speaking up and speaking truth to power. So, a plane could crash into the ground not long after a lower ranked individual uncomfortably said, “Ahm … is that the ground?” The military and business realized that this is an unhealthy environment. They decided to empower lower-ranked individuals to be respected when they spoke up and to be protected. This has changed many companies and many units. And saved lives. CC does not run their company this way. They place value on the tutors and families ONLY so far as they pay and can be controlled.
There are of course, still some companies who do not realize that their base is valuable, knowledgeable, and has on-the-ground experience. But CC claims to follow the ways of God and then uses God’s ways when trying to control people. That makes me angry enough to keep speaking up about their reprehensible ways of running their company.
When I would have a question (and I can promise you that I asked very smart, intelligent questions), I would not be given an answer. If I had a suggestion, it was not taken. I noticed that CC would claim to be for using rhetoric for truth, goodness, and beauty but then would use rhetoric to try to get people to accept something from them for some other reason. Instead of saying, “We have decided to switch to streaming because it doesn’t benefit our bottom line. We realize this impacts our customers, but here are our changes.” No, they tried to create some lovely, flowery, overly-wordy explanation (this was years ago on the old platform) that was so obviously not even true. In another instance, when their maps are incorrect (which happens often), instead of saying, “We realize that mistakes have been found on our maps. We apologize and will make it right,” they say, “When differences are found, it inspires students to seek further and learn more.” Do you see that no one wants perfection from them, but they certainly do not want shamed for speaking up as if it were their own fault for not using the moment as a learning experience? No, they want the company to OWN their OWN. And that is what CC does not do.
The problem with the map explanation is that… sure … if I have an incorrect map, I get to decide if I will use it as a learning opportunity. But if I was the one who PRODUCED that map, I don’t get to decide that for my own company’s benefit I will try to spin my failures into making families feel shamed for even bringing up errors.
That is the style of company that CC is. And my own experiences went all the way up, personally, to Regional Manager. You do realize that that is VERY high up. In fact, it is a really sad story … but when they scheduled a “reconciliation” phone call to have the tutor who slapped my son solve the issue with me … the Regional Manager tried to get me to apologize to the tutor who slapped my son. Why? Because “it had surprised the tutor to hear that it was being brought up after she thought it was taken care of.” Ahem … she knew full well it had NEVER been addressed or brought up to her. I respectfully declined to apologize for surprising her that I had told on her for slapping my son. This is the kind of company we are talking about. That situation was creepy-weird. And they picked the wrong person to push around.
And the experiences of friends of mine went up much further than that.
It is unfortunately an unhealthy company. That doesn’t bother me quite as much as the fact that, as an unhealthy company, they prey upon homeschool moms and families and places all the tax and legal burdens upon them while protecting themselves and gaslighting the families into believing that they shouldn’t ask questions.
And questions are another thing: this company prides itself on conversation, questioning, logical & objective thought. But just you try to turn it on them and you will find they only give lip-service to those ideas. They only want YOU to be a humble learner, but they never make a mistake. They’ll say, “Well, Leigh’s original vision was …. and communities have just gotten away from it ….”
I challenge you to watch how many times CC takes full blame for something that was their fault.
Oh, did you see a couple years ago? They had a graphic about Challenge IV graduates. They showed all the wonderful and amazing involvements they have (listing things that are often done ONE TIME in the 6 years of Challenge … as if that qualifies as an ongoing extracurricular activity when they were one-time classroom activities). And their test scores! They just put those front and center. This is a file that is accessible and I have screenshots of both of these. If you looked at the small print at the bottom, this beautiful graphic showing how amazing Challenge grads are … was compiled from 24 self reports. 24, Evalyn. 24. Self reports. Think about the logic of applying only 24 reports … and those are only self-reports. If you have learned anything in your statistics knowledge, you know that that is the most bogus reporting you can have. When it was brought up, do you think they did the honest thing and accepted their part in such a bogus ad? No, I will tell you what they did. And there is a screenshot of it. They removed the small print about the 24 self-reports … and then put the ad out again.
Again, that is the kind of company they are.
As to answer your questions:
– so yes, I am familiar with multiple communities from multiple friends all over the nation and these experiences are widely dispersed and range from the bottom with tutors all the way to quite high up. And the experiences are many.
– I definitely disagree that MM would mean less if more people could accomplish it. Being accomplished by fewer people means it’s a poorly designed program. The old school method of looking at things is to say that something is valuable if only a few can do it. I feel in education something is valuable if many can accomplish it. That shows success.
– On that same note, there is something called Universal Design for Learning. One looks at the goal. So if the goal is that people can get into a building, then design it so people can get in. If there is a ramp along with or instead of stairs, it will not just help those in a wheelchair, it will help moms with strollers, someone on crutches, …. UDL is an architectural concept that has made its way into the classroom. Consider the goal and then find multiple ways to the goal that allow for multiple humans with multiple backgrounds and mental processes to be able to access it. So with Memory Work, one thing CC does well (if one considers memory work to be as valuable as they rank it) is to encourage multiple ways of memorizing the knowledge. Of course, that doesn’t mean they continue to inspire and allow creativity in that as the years go by, but at least in Foundations they do it. The experiences we have had in Challenge and many many many that others have had lead me to believe otherwise about Challenge. The more accessible tutors make it, the more they get pushed out because they didn’t just use pencil and paper (which leaves many learners out … the assumption that pencil and paper is the gold standard is one that is so far removed from true pedagogy as to be ridiculous).
– Thank you for your kindness regarding my difficult experiences with CC. It is very thoughtful of you to recognize how hard it was. And I was grateful for my friends who stood by me. These friends are community. Not CC community. Just community.
– And unfortunately, “it’s just one day out of the week” was passed down from the Regional Manager. And the multiple bad experiences of people around the nation are a testament to the health of this organization.
– While they desire people to act in a biblical way, they actually seem to only desire to REQUIRE that others do so. They do not require it of themselves. But I do not think that someone who loves Jesus is automatically a great teacher and incapable of damage. I strongly believe that running a classroom and reviewing or teaching or tutoring or whatever they want to call it takes great skill and thought and understanding. Some are meant to be teachers. I have seen many that are not. Keep in mind that the training (as reported by tutors ALL OVER THE NATION) does not teach the material (Latin or grammar or math or …) and it does not teach how to teach and what is expected. When you have experienced lovely and gracious tutors, it is because those tutors were lovely and gracious humans. CC never asked them to be skilled. In fact, CC very very often downplays skill and downplays master teachers. They most certainly downplay intelligent questions asked of them.
I wish you all the best and I’m so very glad you’ve had a lovely experience.
I realize this comment was written three years ago, as were the rest of these comments. I would like to remind the blogger, Sallie, and this person that it is inappropriate to give lengthy replies and argue online with a 14-year-old. I ran across this blog post because I was awake at night and bored. But I have to remark on this. Even if a person is convinced that CC is concerning, it is better to affirm the experience of a child and continue writing separately about the organization.
Both the writer of this blog and this commenter are arguing with a child about her positive response to CC. Evelyn, your positive experience is a great blessing in your life. And you are a remarkable writer with a great online carefulness. Keep speaking whatever your truth is. JESUS IS RISEN, ALLELUIA,
Evalyn, I am sure it’s too late for this comment, several years after the fact, but I want to encourage you that your experience is very valid, and a testimony to the good homeschooling of your mother and the community you were in, as well as to the character you display in your careful writing on this topic. You are respectful and clear in your speech.
Now several years later, as I read this, I am struck by your carefulness and I pray you are doing well. It isn’t appropriate for adults to argue with a child on a blog. Blessings in Jesus. JESUS IS RISEN, Alleluia, Margaret
I would never single a teen out on the street or in a church to tell her that the educational choice her family made for her was to choose an unhealthy company.
But, when engaged by that same sweet teen to discuss such things, I will answer her questions respectfully and give her information. I will not disrespect her for her age. She deserves far more than that.
I would love to hear where she is now that a few months have passed (these comments were not that long ago). I think she is delightful and would love to know her in person.
Thank you for this review. There are so few reviews out there about how different homeschooling programs would work for 2e kids. I do like how you stepped through the specifics of why this program would not work for your family. I will certainly be bookmarking your review for reference for other 2e families who may be considering this program and need to have a look at whether it would be a good fit for their needs.
Thank you so much! I’m glad this was helpful. Every 2e kid is different so what works brilliantly for one may be a disaster for another. I hope this post will help families as they think through their options so they make a choice that works well for them – whatever that choice may be!
FYI… This post was shared in the CC Facebook Group this morning. It has generated a LOT of traffic and quite a few comments so if it feels like there is a significant shift toward positive CC comments or comments telling me why I’m wrong, that’s why. I’m approving all of them, but I want people who find this post in the future while doing research to know why there was an influx of pro-CC comments. 🙂
I’m the mother of a gifted middle schooler with emotional challenges. She attended public school through 7th grade. I have taught college classes and my husband is a public school teacher. We put my daughter in CC for Challenge B and it was one of the best choices we have made. I will wholeheartedly agree with you that the cost is a stretch for us and full disclosure, my gifted son still attends public school.
I think you highlighted some important points for people to think about when considering CC. I also think you made some unhelpful generalizations.
First, as a Challenge level parent, I have the option to leave the campus. This year I chose not to due to my daughter’s emotional needs. I could list all kinds of reasons I’m glad I stayed but some of them are specific to being a Challenge parent so I’ll stick to the issue of not benefiting from the tutor. This is far from true. It wasn’t teaching techniques I learned from her. It was the way she saw the best in my daughter when I struggled to do that. It was the way she guided my daughter through difficult moments with wisdom and love. It was the way all 3 of us would pray together when facing overwhelming challenges.
As for tutors just trying to offset the cost-in my case FALSE. Our tutor put WAY more work into facilitating the education of our students than she was compensated for and in our case she certainly didn’t need any extra financial help. She opened up her home for hours on Friday nights for several weeks to help the students prepare for mock trial among countless other things she did for the students.
As for rigidity and feeling excluded-False! I will say that not every CC campus is the same so it’s possible that at certain campuses a student might experience that but not at ours. My daughter was severely bullied in public school and though she views many issues very differently than her fellow Challenge B students, they embraced her and cheered on her growth every step of the way. She started the year certain everyone hated her and so fearful of being judged, she wouldn’t read her paper in class. She ended the year with friends who love her despite their differences and the confidence to be a defense attorney in the mock trial (the mock trial experience itself almost made CC worth it!) A boy with Aspergers switched to our campus this year too. He was never made to feel less than or like he wasn’t keeping up with the class. While there is a guide that offers great structure for the parent to follow, the parent ultimately makes all the decisions about how faithful they will be to the guide and can keep the tutor updated with this information. Anyway, I’m sure you can tell I felt strongly about our positive experience and just wanted to make sure there were some balanced views on this program for those considering it. For those on the fence-if you have several campuses close by, I would recommend checking them all out. Thanks for the opportunity contribute to this discussion.
Thanks, Michelle, for taking the time to share your CC story!
I agree with this reply! A couple of specifics are as follows: the rigidity is totally up to the individual families and it also may be based in part upon the personality of the Director. One family in our CC community came here from another state and their community there was very rigid. In contrast, she said ours was very laid back, relaxed, and exactly what her kids needed. We were a brand new community that year and I was just glad to hear it was great for her kids and family. The former Director was very Type A and was very control-oriented (she would observe the tutors and tap her wrist telling them to stick with the time, etc.). So, I can see that our Director was VERY different from that. CC allows for each family to do however much of the CC work they deem best for their kids because the PARENTS are the TEACHERS. If kids do not complete the work (upper levels) or do not have the memory work down pat in the lower levels, they are not looked down upon. (The whole Memory Master thing was not even mentioned in our community last year, either). The whole point of community day is fun learning in a loving community atmosphere, glorifying God. For my family personally (we have 5 kiddos ages 17, 14, 11, 8, and 3), it absolutely is our fun school day of the week! We love to get together with friends the last day of our school week. Also, because of our kids’ age range and the weakness it seemed we had in our schooling year to year (it was different each year), CC filled in the gaps for us and has put us all on the same page, going in the same direction, etc. IT IS WONDERFUL!! I agree that it is costly. We always are pinching pennies. With 3 kids enrolled in CC, 2 this next year in Challenge levels, I absolutely work hard in CC tutoring and directing. It is totally worth it to me. All that being said, I do agree with Sallie that CC isn’t for every kid or every family. We’ve done lots of different co-ops prior to CC, and they don’t always pan out, so to speak. They get cancelled often, people leading jump out, or you-name-it. From our experience, of course, CC isn’t perfect; but for our family, it’s the best thing we’ve found. As for the parents sticking around through Foundations and Essentials, the point is not so much (especially in Foundations) for the parents to be learning from the tutor (though the tutor is the lead learner and is modeling ideas for parents) as much as it is for the parents as the kids’ teacher(s) to be with their student(s). For me personally, it is very clear that one primary vocation God has given me is raising and educating my children. If I am their teacher right now in these years, I ought to be with them, especially on the one day they go to the “co-op” with others. Look how much I would miss out on in that one day each week and what that would communicate to them if I didn’t want to be there with them. Day to day at home in the thick of homeschooling, we have a struggle here or there. The thought of sending them to school somewhere may look really wonderful on some days; but God has called me to this for now. So, when our fun community day comes, I REALLY want to be a part of that with my precious kids. It is great, and we get to do it together. What a blessing!
I appreciate you mentioning reading reviews from those familiar with the program. We left CC after six full years of involvement. There were many reason including finding the best fit for our teens.
Thanks for sharing this link, Anne! 🙂
I agree that CC is not perfect, and that it is not a good fit for some families. But for anyone reading who is on the fence, I feel there needs to be some correction. Memory Master is not the standard for success at CC. In fact, a very small fraction of our CC communities (we’ve been part of three now) even attempt MM. It is never implied that to the parent or student that MM is the end goal. MM is celebrated, because it is quite a dazzling accomplishment, but I have never felt pressured to complete it in any of the five years we have been involved. Secondly, the program is designed to have five specific areas on community day, new grammar, fine arts, science experiment based on the scientific method, presentations, and review games. There is not time for “rabbit trailing” in that schedule, in fact, tutors present new grammar in a way that the parent can easily mimic at home for practice. You are welcome to follow any and all questions your child may have during the other four days you are working with the material, or simply stick to the memory work and keep doing Sonlight or Ambleside or whatever your other curriculum is. There is no “right” way to do CC at home, a family adapts it to their schedule, learning styles, and desires. We personally use it as our spine, but other families in our community use Tapestry of Grace or Sonlight and CC as supplement. Thirdly, I have never once asked my youngest to demonstrate her knowledge to anyone. Ever. She doesn’t like to do it, so I don’t ask. I am a tutor and I ask for volunteers to present and encourage everyone to do so, but if a child says no (even my own child in the class), that’s perfectly okay. Some like to present with mom, also okay. Some are natural performers, and that’s okay. When we play review games, my students always have the option of answering solo or answering as a team with each question, there is no pressure to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with. There is no performance expectation.
I completely understand some families don’t think CC will work for them, and that the awesome thing about homeschooling, there are so many choices., but I did want to add some clarity to some of your critiques as someone who has been with the program for five years and tutored both Foundations and Essentials :).
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Christie. 🙂
Very good perspective. We are part of a local CC community because we love the community aspect and having a group learning time once a week. I wouldn’t say we are a “classical” curriculum family overall as we do other curriculum at home that is a mix of Charlotte mason, Montessori, and nature study. I can see how the “performance” thing could be taken too far with CC but it’s up to each of us as parents how to integrate it with our family. We do a small amount of review at home but most of the time we do our own thing. My daughter doesn’t like performing either but I haven’t seen any pressure for her to do so in our CC community. I do see the value of her learning to be a part of a team and learning to speak in front of others in a relaxed atmosphere where no one is judging and they are all in the same boat. Overall I don’t think CC is for everyone but I think it can supplement various styles of home education.
Thanks, Christie! This is exactly what I was thinking when I read the article. I felt it was misleading and you clarified it very well. This is our 5th year in CC and it saved my homeschooling. By Feb of 2nd grade, I had called the school to get enrollment papers and tuition assistance for 3rd grade. I have an only child and we live in the country and we needed community and accountability- I am not a teacher by nature. My daughter was extremely shy and it took her 8 weeks to build up the courage to give a weekly presentation, but when she did it she was so proud. There was never any pressure, just an invitation every week, and the tutor was so encouraging. My daughter is now in Challenge A and will stand up with no problem in front of the class to give a weekly presentation on her science research. I also never felt any pressure at all for her to be perfect in all her memory work and to become a Memory Master. Very few in our community actually decided to try for it, and the ones that do it, do it from being self motivated. The cost can seem expensive because it has to paid all up front (or for the Challenge years, in semesters); However, if your kids take music or dance or art classes, etc, you will find that the weekly cost for CC is equal to, or sometimes even less than these other things. They just seem less expensive because we usually pay for them weekly or monthly. I paid $12/week for a 30 minute piano lesson. I paid $12/week tuition for a 3 hour CC class that included art/music and a science lab (which I would not have done at home because like I said, I am not a teacher by nature.) I think that’s a pretty good deal, but each family needs to decide on what and where they want to spend their money. I bet if every music teacher asked for a full year of payment up front, though, people would balk about how expensive it is and wonder if it is really worth it, so it is really important to put the cost of CC into perspective and I think it is important to relay that information (on both sides- when we CC people are telling others about the program so it is known that there is a cost and when people are writing about reasons CC is not a fit for their family). I can appreciate that CC is not for everyone, and I have no problem with people not liking the structure and am not offended by that, but I do want to make sure to clarify things that I think have been misunderstood.
Sallie, would you have a good recommendation for a program suited for a 2E child? I find myself in the same situation you were facing when looking into the program and would love to hear more about what programs may be better suited for these children and their learning styles 🙂
There really is no one program for a 2e child. Children who are 2e are all so different depending on their diagnosis. I can imagine there are 2e children who do just fine in CC depending on their particular learning disabilities and gifts. Others would not like it at all.
It really depends on the child. There is no way I could tell someone with a 2e child how to homeschool. I can only show people how we think through decisions we make for our family and I know my readers love that about my site.
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I have to research and take one year at a time. Homeschooling 2e kids is a journey with many twists and turns. I have a page about gifted/2e and another page about just 2e. I’ve written lots about those topics there. You could check them out!
I have been in a CC community for 10 years, have graduated out 3 students, and have 2 more young Challenge students. I see the validity of your critiques, and have experienced some pros and cons myself. But I will say this — the tone of each particular CC campus can be vastly different. They take on the “personality” of the member families and the local director. Our campus has always been a warm, welcoming community, which is generally laid back (very few kids have ambition to be Memory Masters, but they are all having fun learning lots together!). I have also seen lots of different kinds of students thrive on our campus. So I know the program CAN be accommodating. (There is even a campus in our region which is 30% autistic/ special needs students! )
I have stayed for the depth of community and the excellence of the overall curriculum (saves me from doing all the “research”). But I know that I might not have stayed as long at other campuses, where there is more pressure and rigidity! The program strives for consistancy from campus to campus, but there really is a lot of diversity within that framework! As a director, I ALWAYS recommended that people visit as many campuses as they can within reasonable driving distance. The first one you visit may not be a good fit for you.
But we agree on the bottom line of your posting: it is NOT going to be the right program for every family (for many different reasons). Each family needs to explore their personal goals in home schooling and investigate whether CC will help them meet those goals.
Thanks, Lorri, for taking the time to comment and share from your experiences. 🙂
My daughter is gifted, and she is a very different style learner, which is why I am leaning toward home school. I am wondering what different style you think wouldn’t work for CC? I am about to join, so I am truly quite curious. She loves to memorize and loves to perform, but she is bored in the classroom, which is my problem.
One benefit I have found in our classical co-op is the variety of learning styles. This is extra-important for my 10 yr old son who is often bored at home because he’s such an active learner (and I’m not), but the once a week co-op classes keep him motivated. I’m a former public school math and science teacher, now homeschooling for 8 years. We started CC 2 years ago for my daughter because her learning style was so different from mine. She had a great year so I added my younger son – huge success. Next year my highly gifted math-oriented older son will attend because he needs the rigor in the humanities classes and the positive influences from kids who bring their various learning styles to the group. In our experience, the CC work suits gifted kids very well – every student works at their own level, according to their strengths and family influences. I love that each family interacts with the curriculum differently and there is no one right way to do your work – definitely a homeschool mentality and that’s why we homeschool in the first place.
The Foundations program wouldn’t have fit my 2 older kids and it would have been torture for me, but my younger one loves the Foundations program. I originally thought the CC memory work would bore him (and me) to tears, but it isn’t overbearing, he does it independently, and there are many other benefits for him that make it worth it for me. There’s lots of positive, personal interaction among kids and tutors and other parents. I love the spirit and independent learning styles that homeschoolers bring to the classes. My son can’t get that variety at home with me so it’s a blessing for our homeschool.
As an introvert, I could do without the social activity of the group, but I avoid what I can and attend the rest for the benefit of my kids. We’re there 1) for the HS academics, especially humanities, and 2) because it’s such fun for my youngest. Every CC group is different so I hope you find a good group for your family.
Eliz gave you a good summary of her experience. I will add that my daughter is 2e and that’s very different from “only” being gifted. CC might be a great fit for your child. Did you visit to see CC in action? That might help you make your decision.
Just wanted to clarify what I think is a big misconception here. The tutors are there to present the material to the students in a variety of ways, addressing many and multifaceted learning styles. Not every student will gleen from all of the activities, but at some point, and often, there will be the opportunity for each child to see, hear, touch, jump, wiggle, dance, read, write, etc. There is no requirement for you , the parent, to present the information the same way the tutor does. The beauty of homeschooling, right? You are the parent and you then have the total freedom to present, teach, read about, explore, or totally ignore whatever parts you want and to the depth or shallowness you feel meets your child’s needs. I’m sorry you felt there were so many negatives and rigidity to CC, but I think there have been some real misgivings about the structure of CC and that somehow it dictates how you as the parent then have to teach your children at home. I also think it was a very unfair assumption that the most of the tutors are untrained, uneducated moms who have nothing to offer you, while many, MANY of us, are highly educated, highly trained former public or private school teachers, finance experts, chemists, registered nurses, artists, and musicians, etc, just to name a few from our own community. We can all learn from each other. No one mom has all the ideas or all of the answers. That’s the beauty of building a community. And for those families with special needs, I would not be afraid of giving CC a genuine fair shot. In our community, as well as both of the othes here in our town (we have 3), there are a number of special needs students, with everything from autistism to Downs Syndrome, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and others, and those kids are flourishing in ways their families didn’t think possible. It is not for everyone, this is true, but I do not believe this article provides an accurate, full portrait of what CC is, the freedom that it offers, or the benefits that can be gained from belonging to a community of loving families trying to do their best.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Kayla. 🙂
There are dozens and dozens of places to find positive to glowing reviews of CC. There is very little out there for newer homeschoolers (let alone a newer homeschooler with a gifted/2e child) that walks them through why someone would NOT choose CC.
It was not my intention to present a post that explained all of the positives of CC. That’s not what my readers look for from me. They look for me to explain choices we make and the thinking behind those choices. They look for me to give information on why I think something will or will not be a good fit for particular children. A quick look around my site will make that abundantly clear. Again, posts abound on why CC is loved so much. I wanted to offer another perspective.
I deliberately chose not to address any controversial issues related to CC that put them in a negative light and stuck to facts about why it would not work for OUR family based on the research I did. Other people who have joined and left CC have written posts about the issues and they have the personal experience to do so. I do not and so I did not. I did not even provide links to places where readers could find that information (although that is something I often do in posts to provide multiple views). So the idea that I’m out to slam CC in some way is just false.
I wrote a post that I wish I could have read a number of years ago as the mother of a gifted/2e child who doesn’t fit traditional parameters. I walked through the decision-making process I made for our family and let other people see it. That is really the focus of my entire website. I write to support parents and homeschoolers who have kids that necessitate they approach everything a bit differently.
I would invite anyone who feels I attacked CC unfairly or purposely set out to cast them in a negative light to read the post again with a fresh set of eyes.
I very much appreciate this review. I first heard about CC after I’d already been homeschooling for 10 years or more. I’d already been mentoring new homeschoolers for years at that point.
What we’d been doing worked well. And while I wanted a good Classical Ed co-op, if I could find one, for some subjects starting at around age 11, I really needed a la carte-style. We do TJEd, so it’s Classical, but starts unschoolish and gets progressively more Classical as the child gets older. All my kids are 2E except the youngest, who is simply towards the end of the gifted scale. They’re all rampant learners, so really what we needed were mentors, lab sciences, languages with native speakers, and public speaking. CC was simply not what we needed.
But as I went on mentoring new homeschoolers, I kept hearing about CC, and finally started hearing from people who were thinking about homeschooling who thought it was “too expensive” and “too rigid”. Upon talking to them, I found that often they were talking about CC. They’d been told they could tutor to offset the cost, but they were just *thinking* about homeschooling and not sure they could teach their own, let alone an entire classful! And so they were thinking they couldn’t homeschool because the only thing they’d seen was CC and thought that CC was the only way to homeschool for some reason. Odd, but true.
So I do find your review refreshing and saying something that needs to be said. As a long-time mentor, it’s important to realize that while we ourselves might have found the “perfect” way for us (and how many of us think we’ve found something that works, and then a child or two change and it’s no longer working so well?)–while we may have found a system that works for us, it will not necessarily work for every other family. We cannot and should not shame others for whom our choices do not work for whatever reason. That subtle shaming you felt I’ve felt as well. And I have my oldest two on full or nearly full international scholarships, so I think what I did worked pretty well–and yet people with young kids hear we’re not involved with CC and give me that sometimes.
Thank you for providing another perspective, especially as someone who mentors new homeschoolers.
I absolutely agree that there is no “one way” to do homeschooling and that things can change dramatically from year to year (or even within a year).
And that is my intent in writing this. To help homeschoolers who have doubts about CC know that they aren’t the only one it doesn’t seem to fit well and that there is nothing wrong with doing something else for your family. There were lots of successful homeschool families before CC ever existed and there will be many successful homeschool families without it. 🙂
I agree Sallie! Moms like me can benefit from your perspective for sure. I did CC for two years but it really was NOT for us. I kept trying to make it fit because I was new to homeschooling and thought maybe I just needed to work harder. The reality was that I desperately needed a different curriculum and a different pace for my son! And I put my child from public school in a challenge program and it was a terribly difficult transition. She only did 1 semester. I didn’t think she’d have a problem because she is an excellent student and always has been. She was overwhelmed and worse, I was completely overwhelmed. Parents need to understand the whole picture so they can make an informed decision. I do college instruction part time in the subjects of business and accounting on the side so I am not unfamiliar with structure. Bottom line, CC was not for us and I felt guilty because we could not get with the program. Our home school is running so much more smoothly now. I’m not knocking CC but just offering a path out of the guilt if you feel it is not for you.
I would love to hear more about why Challenge was not a good fit for your child. I was thinking of putting my high schooler in Challenge, but he has never been in CC before and I am having doubts. Thank you!
Hi Stacy, our family also dropped out of the Challenge program after the 1st semester. Our family has been homeschooling for 9 years, 2 years with the co-op. The primary reason we left is similar to what Robin wrote – my kids are excellent students and the program wasn’t a good fit, and because of what Sallie tangentially referred to above, it wasn’t worth our valuable time. For us the writing assignments were too vague and there wasn’t enough support for the students. Our purpose to be there was to learn how to write better, not just do it to get it done. Also this year the class discussion methods were lacking because there was so little student participation because of instruction style. The admin might say that we are responsible for teaching our kids at home (yes, we are) but by 9th grade I wanted valuable instruction and discussion during their hours at the co-op, not for my kids to spend time with a bunch of teenagers in a room. Previous years had been fabulous and my daughter learned tons, but we had new instructors this year. In principle I loved the assignments but I thought the students needed more scaffolding in order to learn to do them well. Also, we are very math/science oriented and the time-sink into the writing assignments was so great that my kids didn’t have time to follow their passions. We were at the program because we were looking for advanced humanities classes because that is my homeschool weakness. If we were to look at another classical program, I would want to observe the discussion/writing classes and see samples of the writing produced in the course.
Sallie, I just love your blog and your heart to help us with our own homeschooling journeys. Thank you for giving us a place to share, even if we stray off your original post topic.
Thank you for your kind words about my blog and what I do here. It’s been a long week and I really needed a word of encouragement. So thank you. Truly.
I put my son in Challenge A because his good friend was going there and he was my youngest needing more social stimulation after his sister went to college. It was so overwhelming for both of us. I had homeschooled for 20 years and for a while could not figure out why we were having such a hard time. I really liked the IEW but the course had us doing 2 lessons each week and skipped some crucial teaching that we later needed to know. In January I just took over and we did it my way during the week and the cc day was extra as I was not expecting any teaching from the tutor. We did our own math because Saxon is horrible and he didn’t get it. I totally dropped Latin because I at 55 am just not going to learn it well enough to teach him. Slowed down the IEW and discussed the bible but didn’t do the work. I loved the geography and mapping the world and the anatomy where we learned and drew all the body systems. I do have friends who have loved it and continued, but it was not for us.
RIGIDITY: amazingly enough, the rigidity of CC is a firm schedule, something that I have had every year among all my children (even my struggling and gifted ones). We flex around a plan, and that helps in every way for every child. Like learning a schedule of when to brush teeth, it is a comfort to know when lunch is, and when we will read together. I am certain that you saw CC’s rigidity as an outsider: seeing it for the first time can be daunting. A good tutor takes it and gets the children excited about doing. Many aspects of life do not have a routine, and that is great. I think it is well-rounded to have all aspects. Of course, whatever floats your boat. Just recognize that you were looking at a program you didn’t try and quick to judge from the outside, and don’t be upset when those of us respond who tried it and were pleasantly surprised at how well our ADHD children did focusing (for once). If I dislike anything regarding CC, I dislike the corporate side and that’s it. A bad tutor or director can ruin it, but a bad tutor or director can ruin any co op. The curriculum is interesting and important. The presentation covers all the parts I would like in a co op.
PERFECTION: If you were ever a member you would know that this is not stressed unless the parent (primary teacher) wants to stress it. Some do when they perhaps shouldn’t and I disagree, but I am a tutor, not the primary teacher/parent.
PERFORMING: I am so so very thankful my five year old will get up and present to eight children. My 12 year old will teach a subject. My 10 year old explains his building projects. My 8 year old shows her class how to make balloon dogs. All without the lack of self-confidence that can happen to children who don’t ever have to present until a 10th grade writing class. Any adult in any position of power or influence has to have the ability to present ideas, and we are all grateful when we are not terrified to present. Passion makes us want to present better, and everyone in the world has things they are passionate about. CC children are learning powerful things.
COST: I also do not like this. But I was a member of SEVERAL free groups, and you know, it is disruptive to have a different class every week because parents don’t bother to show. Education is worth something, right? Now – with CC – everyone comes every week unless they are ill. Add to that, most of the cost goes to the tutor and director, who often use it to pay for their own children to attend, AND buy supplies. The parents who are having a hard time financially often tutor. I only wish the corporate would become non-profit and branch out into missions, but I guess I can’t have everything.
Parents stay? Why not? It is fun! The tutors go to an extra effort to find good songs to learn, games to play, teach sit-ups, etc. You are the primary teacher, you homeschool, right? Why would you not want to stay? In this case, yes: CC is NOT for everyone. I find it is most often for parents who are homeschooling because they want to be involved, but love the chance to add variety to their curriculum and learn other ways to teach.
No, the tutors are not professionally trained. My sister is professionally trained and she has a 5th grade inner-city class that is practically a daycare. Last time she visited us she wouldn’t stop the teacher attitude and be an aunt. It annoyed my two older children to no end. I had to explain to them that she had no children so didn’t know how to talk to them outside that role. I am not professionally trained, but I have two English degrees and edited my husband’s military history Thesis (among other things). I may not have elementary group-management down like my sister does, but I have some fascinating tidbits about linguistics and history that I add. What is professional training? Most CC parents have degrees, just not elementary education. Does a parent even need a degree to study how their child learns best and capitalize on it?
I was going to take the time to respond to each of your points (including the condescending ones) and realized I don’t want to use valuable time in my day to do so.
I don’t think you read the comment thread before commenting because we’ve already covered your points and attacks on me/my post multiple times.
Did CC HQ send you to leave this? Or do you work at HQ in NC?
Anyway, God bless you and have a lovely day.
I perhaps shouldn’t have responded: Your objective in rejecting CC is based on your perception, and you are of course entitled to that. I just wonder what your objective in writing this article was? Plenty of quality negative reviews exist for CC from people who were in it and found in-depth reasons for their family to reject it. Your rejection has inaccuracies that those who have tried CC find assuming and obtuse. Hence the backlash from people who have had CC work for their family: not because of affiliations (there are none in my case: I don’t care to ever support the corporate CC as I clearly stated) but because of my belief that a subject should be well-studied before being written about, lest our words unintentionally lie. So my discomfort came across strongly in my comment. But as you say: we are both wasting our time discussing this. You are obviously an accomplished writer and Mom and really: kudos. Do what works for you and absolutely encourage other moms to do what works for them.
I just hope no one thinks your comments are anything but a vague opinion of someone who only glanced at something before decrying it bad for anyone who doesn’t want an expensive, strict program with an obsession for perfection. I really do not know the CC you speak of.
You apparently did not take the time to read the MANY stories in this comment thread written by people who had terrible CC experiences. Do their experiences not count either?
You also weren’t able to read the emails people sent me because they were too afraid to speak publicly for fear of being recognized by their story details. That’s reality. People who are so AFRAID of CC they won’t speak publicly. What does that tell me?
Did you read the stories over at Spiritual Sounding Board that I linked to in another comment? There are currently nine posts over there about CC. Do their stories not count?
How about the many people who left comments here who thanked me for writing this and putting into words something they had also observed about how CC wouldn’t work for their gifted/2e child but couldn’t quite put into words?
I clearly said why I wrote this post. The entire last paragraph CLEARLY explains why I wrote this. You also apparently did not read the additional comments I made in this comment thread regarding why I write what I write on my site.
There are NOT plenty of quality negative reviews and this was especially true two years ago when I originally wrote this post. I know of NO other posts that explain why people with a gifted/2e child considered CC and opted not to do it. In fact, people who have done CC and written negative reviews have been pressured to take them down. People aren’t allowed to say anything negative about CC in many Facebook groups and elsewhere without being censured and having their comments deleted.
In closing, thank you for telling me I am inaccurate, obtuse, assuming, vague, and even perhaps unintentionally lying.
I wish this had a ‘like’ button.
Sallie, I was wondering why I was getting emails on this thread again. Looks like someone is trying to school you. haha
Katherine, it doesn’t look good when you dismiss everyone who has had legitimate negative CC experiences. A little empathy goes a long ways . . . unless CC actually is the very first perfect homeschool program out there with perfect leaders, perfect curricula, perfect results.
First, thank you for your analysis of CC.
You say that “there is no accommodation for kids who have learning differences.”
However, you then post that the CC materials state that ,”The director should be aware of physical limitations and may extend time and offer a break during proofing….If your child cannot meet the requirements for mastery, we recommend that you create your own special “Memory Master” rules and reward system for your home school.”
The ‘physical limitations’ part may be what you are referring to, and if CC limits accommodations to physical issues, you may have a point.
To me, it sounds as if CC is making an accommodation. Accommodations (in the public school, IEP sense) are actions, devices, approached, etc. that help a child to accomplish a given task. Accommodations are NOT changes to the curriculum. Often people think that is the case, but it is not. Extended time and breaks would be examples of accommodations.
Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m still not reading their statement in the way that you are.
The bottom line is the last thing my daughter needs is to be in a group where perfection is the expectation. Perfectionism and the expectations of performance are a terrible fit for many gifted/2e kids which is one of the points of my post. Perfectionism is not a goal I aspire to and nor would I put my child in a place that encourages it even in a small way. People say over and over again that it’s not like that in “their” CC group and everyone is so loving and supportive. That may be the case. But I know from researching that this is not the case in all groups and that there is INTENSE pressure to perform and excel in those groups.
On the CC website, there is a blog post called 10 Tips from a Classical Conversations Veteran. Number 2 says: “Mastery is not everything. Strong familiarity will often meet the case. For example, in Challenge III, if students have not mastered Latin vocabulary or complex grammar, they are able, nonetheless, to translate Caesar because they are familiar enough with the concepts to recognize them. Foundations parents, unless your child is willing to become a Memory Master, beware pushing him into it out of a sense of pride. What is best for your own child? You know the nature of your child better than anyone else. Some students will be able to master everything. Others need to spend their time differently.”
So maybe it was just your perception that “perfection is expected.” They certainly don’t say that themselves.
(And I’m not necessarily pro CC yet… we have just started our first year and are feeling it out. I’m not opposed to criticism of the program, but just trying to point out that your claim may just be your own perception of that aspect and not a true “negative”).
It is true, that not all CC groups have a pressurized atmosphere to perform. I have been a part of a pressurized group. In fact, during a family presentation in this particular group (all CC groups have this, usually the family presents during the all community assembly, before breaking out into Foundations classes), the mother yelled at her son during the presentation in front of the entire assembly. It was embarrassing for me, and I could feel the boys humiliation. We left this group. In speaking to the SR about it, she, though very gracious, and understanding of this situation, told me that CC knew about these groups and just allowed them to exist.
In another group, I had the opposite experience. The director just had emotional intelligence. She took each family issue presented to her on a case by case basis, and allowed certain modifications even if it went against official CC policy. She strove to work through any problem that arose at the lowest level possible. God Bless her. I hope that she is still operating that way, because her love and grace has probably kept many small problems from becoming big problems.
― June 7, 2017 – 2:12 am Reply
I am a trained teacher with a Bachelor of Education, homeschooling my children. After a year in a CC community, I’m absolutely shocked by the attitude of the CC crowd! What I find very crazy about CC is that that style of “teaching” children is arrogantly ignorant of different learning styles & the multiple intelligences. Memorizing lists of words in Foundations does not meet the learning needs of the different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Not to mention that it’s all JUST surface “knowledge” – CC discourages the child’s questions about these random list of words. The goal is to simply memorize lists of words. I was told to shut the children down if they asked too many questions… YIKES! And yet there is TONS of research that the best way to learn is by asking questions and having those questions answered. Do yourself a favor – don’t bother with it.
I have to add that the tutors expected word for word recitation of these sentences and lists of words. If a child repeated the concepts in their own words it was rejected. As I said, it was purely about reciting lists of words – not about understanding what they were reciting (as the child who could rephrase it could…).
I appreciate your remarks on your experience in CC. This is our 5th year in it and we are in Challenge A (7th grade). I can understand how it seems the kids are just learning lists of facts that don’t mean anything. And you are correct that in class, they are to just recite all those memory facts and not to go deeper into the subjects. That is because there are only 3 hours of the week that they are in class. At home, as the teacher, my daughter and I delved into those areas so we were getting more than just surface knowlege. I had science and history books at home and we would take our science memory work and history memory work sentences and read much more about them. That is when we had the deeper discussions that can be had in a regular brick and mortar school that kids go to every day, all day. So it’s not that CC doesn’t allow you to have those learning opportunities- you can do whatever you want at home. Now that my daughter has reached the Challenge class, all that memory work is really coming in to use! It was not all just wasted time- it was building the foundation for what she is doing now and will continue to do.(Just like memorizing the alphabet was not wasted because you need to know that to read and spell.) She is obsessed with horses, so for her weekly science research papers, whatever the topic is (astronomy, plants, etc) she is finding some way to relate that to horses (astronomy: Pegasus; plants- which ones are poisonous to horses), so she is excited about learning science because she is getting to research things that interest her and then present that to her classmates. CC is really meant to be a whole program all the way through high school, not just an elementary school curriculum. In fact, it started out as just high school socratic discussions. Then LEigh Bortins, who started it, realized these highschool kids didn’t know foundational things that were critical to what they needed to know in high school, so she developed the Foundations program, which is all the memory work. The last piece she added was the Essentials of the English Language for 4-6th graders to bridge the gap between the 2 and start delving into English grammar and composition. I understand this approach is not for everyone, and that is completely okay. But I just wanted to clarify the “Why” of the memory work and not branching out from that in the 3 hour community day. Peace! 🙂
I appreciate your article. I’ve been in CC for 2 years now, signed up for a 3rd year and it has been a battle. My son doesn’t like it and personally I don’t look forward to it either. He is 6 years old and my husband said we should stick with it, so I signed up for a 3rd year. My son is extremely smart but not interested in any of the memory work. It must not be his way of learning. He has never done memory master and it has made me feel like a failure when I should be looking for another way to do things. I appreciate your article, I know there are many that thrive in CC but it is okay if not everyone does. Your article has freed me a little bit to thinking it is okay to find something else. Any comments saying your article isn’t helpful must be people who are thriving in it.
Thank you for your comment. You are correct. I wrote my post for people who are not thriving in CC or who feel pressured to join CC even though they suspect it wouldn’t be the best fit for their child/family. Thanks for confirming that. 🙂
I hope you can find something that works well for both you and your son. Homeschooling shouldn’t require doing things we dread.
Thanks for writing this article! I have also decided that CC is not a good fit for my family, even though I appreciate so much about the Classical approach. There is a new community starting in my area, and while I am always thrilled for there to be more choices for homeschool families, the reality is that in my small, rural community there are only so many like-minded families. I am already feeling like our family is being “excluded” because we are not signing up. Truthfully, the cost is very high when you have a large family (I have 4 school-aged kids) — actually, I could put them all in our local tiny private Christian school for almost the same cost. Having, also at home, 3 younger kids the option to tutor to offset the cost is simply not realistic.
Three of those were reasons I chose not to do CC. The other one is something I didn’t know, and knowing that gives me a fourth reason to stay out of CC.
Has anyone been a part of a CC group that constantly excluded them and their child? If so, how did you handle it? We are starting our 3rd year in Challenge and what I once thought was an unintentional habit of being left out of the loop, has become and obviously purposeful effort. I can not think of anything we have done that would upset anyone. I am not obnoxious and barely speak at meetings, I go with the flow. My child fully participates and is always well prepared. She loves the kids in her group but the moms exclude her and me whenever possible. It is obvious they don’t really want us there and I’ve already paid for the year. Joining a different group may not be the answer because she feels connected to this one. I am so heartbroken and angry and at a loss.
I would suggest talking to your Challenge Director about how much this is hurting you and your family and asking him/her for their understanding of any underlying issus. If yiu feel that this conversation doesn’t resolve the issue, reach out to your SR for advice. I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.
(I’m not sure that this is the place to post your question… The common theme here is very anti-CC.)
I can imagine how disappointing it is to discover that what you thought was happenstance seems now to be intentional. I know that has to deeply hurt both you and your daughter. I would speak to whoever is in charge in the hope that you might gain some insight. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer and you feel compelled to leave, you will at least have covered that base.
I know this won’t solve your situation, but this is not the first reply I’ve received like this since writing this post. My impression as an outsider is that there are a lot of people hurting in CC, but there is nowhere to speak of it publicly for fear of the consequences. I don’t have an answer for you other than to tell you that you apparently aren’t the only one dealing with this issue or others similar to it.
What is interesting to me is that a post that simply showed my readers the thought process of why there were aspects of CC that would have been negatives for us and made it not a good fit for our family has elicited such a wide range of emotions and comments both here and in personal emails.
I sincerely hope you find the answers you need and that you will either find a way to be happy in your CC community or God will provide another homeschool co-op or community that is a better fit for you and your daughter.
Thank you so much. I already know that I am in a no-win situation. I know that no conversation will make the group like me or my child. The other kids in her group are great, it’s just the mothers. Any calling attention to the behavior will result in denial of such behavior or further exclusion. I do believe the academics at the challenge level are a good fit for us, I was actually just wondering if others had experienced the same at the Challenge level. The sad part is, I have known these women since my daughter was in pre-K. Yet, we don’t share the same interests, so I’m an outsider, which is fine for social things, but not when it comes to school related matters. I know my options are to tough it out (which we will this year because we’ve already paid) or leave. It’s a tough choice to think of leaving the academic side which has so many benefits for my child’s learning style or keeping her in a situation where we aren’t wanted. At any rate, I thank you for listening and for your sweet reply.
I wanted to write this post as an encouragement rather than anything else. Sallie thank you for this post. I do not have a gifted child but I have looked into CC, we didn’t have any CC places in our area but I wanted to learn more about it. I am definitely the person who leans towards negative reviews to see if the negatives are something that would make a program not work for me and I decided that some of the features I DO like about CC I can just get the stuff and do it myself at home.
With that being said, I think it’s sad that as homeschoolers people get bent out of shape that something negative has been said about a curriculum/learning style they have picked. Everything doesn’t work for everyone and most of us want to know WHY something didn’t work so we can make an informed choice. That doesn’t mean it’s bad and no one should make that choice, what it DOES mean is that our children, lifestyles, learning styles, beliefs are different and our curriculum choices reflect that.
Sallie don’t be discouraged by people who have reacted negatively, keep doing reviews and helping those who need to see your reviews when it comes to making choices for their gifted child. This is my first time reading a post on your page and I do not have a gifted child but I agree with the above cons even for my own children.
You are very welcome! I laughed when I read your comment because I like to read the negative reviews of something as well. When I look at a product on Amazon, I almost always click on the one star reviews first. They are far more helpful in helping me decide about a product than only reading the five star reviews.
I’m not discouraged by the negative comments whether they are here or on Facebook. I’m glad people are discussing it and my post has provided a way for people to express their opinions and share their experiences. We all benefit from a variety of opinions and perspectives. 🙂
Yes Sallie me too with Amazon! Lol I find one star reviews much more helpful.
I am so glad you are not discouraged. I agree we can learn from different opinions. It was more the ‘tone’ of some messages rather than differing opinions. 🙂
Believe me, this is mild compared to some of the situations I’ve faced in life. LOL! But thank you!
Rebecca, I’m not sure that we are getting bent out of shape (at least I am not). I think it is very good to look at pros and cons for your family about every curriculum- we all do it and we should. But as I have seen mentioned in other comments, not all communities are alike and some of the things explained here as negatives are not true in every community. I would hate for someone to read this and think that every single community is rigid and perfectionist and performance driven. Sally, I appreciate your reasons for not wanting to do CC, but I think maybe a better way to have phrased those things is “what I saw in the community I visited” or something like that, because unlike books that are the same no matter where you use them, the people and leaders in each community make a different personality for each community. And I am truly heartbroken over stories of parents and kids who are not made to feel welcomed into the community. That is not right and very unchristian. I just want people to know that it is not like that at every community and it makes me appreciate mine even more.
Thanks for your comments. Honestly, there is very little in my list of reasons that is going to vary from place to place.
The cost isn’t going to vary much.
The expectation that parents remain isn’t going to vary.
The need to perform isn’t going to vary.
I guess one can dispute how rigid and how much perfectionism is expected based on the leaders of the group so I will give you that.
The bottom line is I KNOW MY CHILD. She enjoys the co-op she attends and CC would not improve on that experience. The things I brought up about CC would not work well for her or us as a family.
I’ve approved EVERY SINGLE POSITIVE CC comment in this thread. The only three comments I didn’t approve were snarky comments that were quite negative about CC. It wasn’t my intention to start something with this post, but I trust that people are smart enough to research and make their own decision. I’ve given pro-CC people ample opportunities to state their case here. I’m confident homeschoolers who come here can read, evaluate, and make the right choice FOR THEIR FAMILY.
I’m on a message board with moms from all over the US. I’ve seen many, many mothers post the same thoughts as on this blog post.
Some of us don’t like CC and we never will. I believe the model is flawed, no matter how nice the people are. You can disagree and think it’s wonderful.
What baffles me is how over-the-top CC customers are when someone states why they don’t do CC. What are you afraid of? Why can’t some people dislike CC without CC customers trying to talk them out of their opinions? Does the regurgitation go all the way up to the parents? One of the best parts of homeschooling is that we can all do something different. Can’t you embrace that?
Yes, I can absolutely embrace the fact that we can all do something different! Most of my homeschooling friends do not use CC and their children are getting wonderful educations. I am not afraid of any reason people have for not wanting to use CC. Every family is different, every child is different and not every schooling approach works for every child. I’m not sure why you think my comment above says that or if this was just a comment in general.
When a homeschooling mom goes to a convention or curriculum fair, she’s there to check things out. She’s evaluating what is available, flipping through books, picking up samples, listening to talks, talking with other parents, etc. She’ll probably go home and do more research online because that’s what homeschool moms do. She’s making judgements about what might work for her child and what probably won’t. She’s factoring in time, cost, usability, etc. We ALL do that as homeschoolers. That’s how we plan for each year.
My guess is that if I went to such a convention and took notes, I could come home and write a post about why I did or didn’t choose (insert curriculum here – Apologia, Abeka, Well Trained Mind, Calvert, Ambleside, etc.). No one would object to me saying that I researched such and such curriculum and this is why I didn’t think it would work with my daughter. I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at that. They would think that I did my research, made a judgement based on the information available to me, and move on. I’ve written about why we don’t do Charlotte Mason and there was barely a blip on the screen in terms of feedback.
For some reason, people who love CC think CC is something completely different and is above the same kind of scrutiny. It’s not.
We did CC for a few years. It wasn’t a fit for us. While I like the idea of memory work, I didn’t like the speed at which they moved through everything and I didn’t fully agree with all that was chosen. (Now, I make up my own memory work…Bible verses, hymns, useful life info-our address, what to do in a fire, etc., states and capitals, etc.) My kiddo DID learn a ton of facts and I was a total CC mom fail (that is, we never did the memory work at home). It is a strong program and it is GREAT for some.
What I’ve come to realize is that it truly comes down to your philosophy on education. I knew going in that I didn’t really adhere to classical education and was more of a Charlotte Mason kind of girl with a good dose of eclectic mixed in. CC can work with other styles, but I really felt there was this cloud of rigor overhanging us that isn’t my primary goal in educating my kids. Sure, I want them to know stuff, but I’m far more concerned with their character than the content of their brains. It made me feel stressed and overwhelmed, led me to a lot of comparison after hearing how much the other kids had retained and were involved in(because they had good CC moms who did review at home…), all the talk about memory master, and remembering everything I had to bring (I tutored.) In the end, it wasn’t for us. BUT, this is WHY we homeschool. To have FREEDOM in making choices for our families. It’s what I tell new homeschool mamas: I can tell you what curriculum I use, but in the end, you are different than me. Your family is made up differently than mine. You’re in a different season. You have different learners. We homeschool by FAITH, not by fear that our kids are going to miss out on something that everyone else is doing.
You do you, mamas. And give each other grace. In real life. And in virtual life. Everyone is doing their best and life is hard. We don’t need so much negativity in the world. Encourage each mama. Don’t take personally someone else’s preference or choices. It isn’t negating yours. I see homeschool mamas so laser focused on how they do things that we can often take others opinions of the curriculums we use as personal attacks. It isn’t. It’s just proof that God created a wonderfully diverse humanity with bents and giftings in all different directions! And guess what…the world NEEDS Christians in all walks of life so let’s cut each other some slack and celebrate one another. Hey, you homeschool? Me too! CONGRATULATIONS!!! It’s so hard!! I’m proud of you. Hey, your kids go to public school? THAT’S AWESOME!!! Mothering is tough! [high fives and air hugs]
Beautifully said, Ashley. Thank you!
An open comment to the CC Directors and others who continue to attack me on social media for this post.
Are you sure you want to keep poking the bear? Do you want to keep insisting that I should have presented a more balanced post about CC listing all the pros and cons of the program?
Are you sure you want that? Do you want me to seek out the pros and cons more thoroughly and write a detailed review? Maybe one post on all the glowing positives from people who love CC and one post on all the heartbreaking negatives from people who have done CC and left? Do you want me to get permission to quote the people who have written to me privately and told me about their experiences with CC? Do you want me to discuss the agreement that CC Directors sign? Do you want me to break down the finances? Do you want me to go deeper? I’m an awesome researcher. I could do a bang up job if that’s what you truly want.
I wrote a simple post about how we made a decision based on what I perceived the negatives to be for MY child and MY family. That is what I do here (and on my other sites) if you actually took a minute to look at the HUNDREDS of posts I’ve written here and elsewhere over the years. For that, I’ve been repeatedly attacked and called variations of stupid and uninformed and unfair and any other number of things. Do you really want me to write the post you keep insisting I should have written? I’ll do it. Just let me know!
To make my point a bit more clear, I searched “Why we” in the header of my site. Here is a portion of what came up as well as popular posts that are similar. This is what I write about. I ask questions, I make decisions, and I share my decision-making process. My regular readers understand that. People who stop in for one post with a preconceived idea of how things must be apparently don’t understand that or choose not to see it. (I don’t have time to make the links pretty.)
Sallie – thanks for sharing this! When I first started homeschooling, it seemed like EVERYONE was doing CC. The cost was definitely off-putting to our one income family, and I didn’t agree with the approach to learning (which is ok). But I did get the drift when I broached the cost concern that went something like this, “But dont you want to give your kids the best?” Why yes, yes I do. Giving them the best doesn’t necessarily equal CC, and I had no interest in tutoring. It was the attitude that got me – and I realize that is not all CCers by any means. It wasn’t for us, and that’s all that Sallie was saying here. She gave her reasons and they are helpful and confirming for those of us who have decided not to participate in CC. Thanks for sharing Sallie!
They don’t want my story to go viral, that’s for sure. But I’m done being quiet. If you decide to do a pros/cons and want a full story from inside with someone who can list the positives even though she’s been mistreated by CC and is willing to tell what happened to her … feel free to contact me.
Here’s the deal, Classical Conversations claims to teach logical, objective thought, but they will NOT tolerate logic or objectivity being applied to them or their programs.
That is why you are being attacked.
A six year veteran/tutored both Foundations and Essentials/had five kids in all levels (including Challenge)
Thank you for your comment. I really struggled with whether or not to approve it. I thought about editing it heavily and then posting it. I decided to just approve it. I am not into censorship, but it’s amazing the way this one post – THIS ONE POST – has caused me more angst in whether or not to approve comments than anything else I’ve written in 12 years of blogging/writing online.
I have no intention at this point of doing a pro/con post. My only intention in writing this post was to walk people through MY decision-making process for MY child. This fact seems to have been lost on many people or else they seem to be unwilling to allow a family to make a different choice. In any case, I have no desire to get into anything with CC or people associated with it.
Thank you for your offer and best wishes as you homeschool your children in whatever way is best for your family. 🙂
Amen. And same here. I actually have no desire to “out” them for their behavior or tell my big long story. It would be honestly pretty embarrassing for them as an organization. But I do have a desire that they allow for criticism (whether they agree with it or not). They are so way old school that they won’t tolerate ANYONE to have an idea. The answer to all ideas is, “You just don’t understand the classical method. Trust the method.”
Just like ANY program that exists, there are positives and negatives. And then there is the occasional company that believes negatives couldn’t possibly exist in their perfectly designed program. It’s unfortunate.
And for the record, your observations were accurate.
– they do say “anyone can do this” while telling the parents “you have to attend hours of class to ‘grasp’ what our highly trained tutors have ‘grasped’ in 9 whole hours of training”. Both things can’t be true at the same time. (I actually think that a big piece of their “parents must attend” is actually insurance, but they’d like to present it as other things)
– Memory Master is virtually word perfect (the child is allowed to misspeak but then must correct themselves or you can go back and re-ask a few questions to see if they’ll say it correctly). And no, they would NEVER allow for someone with a learning disability to have any sort of accommodations. The only accommodations are for every student, which are what I listed in misspeaking and also that it can take longer for some than others (they don’t go for speed, rather for the clear idea that the work is mastered)
– Yes, it’s rigid. The classtime anyway. You have freedom to do what you want/adjust at home and the tutor is supposed to respect that. But the variety in the hour of memorization (new and games) comes ONLY in the WAY things are memorized, it’s still to be memorized and the games are still tests of their memorization.
– Some people are arguing with you by listing what Challenge is like (while you are clearly referencing the elementary classes). So they aren’t making apples to apples comparisons.
– They will hire virtually any warm body. There is NO checking to see if the person can handle a classroom or any references for how well they do with children, etc. It’s basically, “If you’re a Christian and look good to us, you’re in.” And then it’s pretty much called an act of God. No criticism or complaints regarding that decision are tolerated. And if you speak with other parents to do just basic research on an issue that might be had … you’re accused of gossiping, even though you are just a parent, not an employee that should probably be taking concerns to upper management.
– yes, it’s awfully expensive for what you’re given (the amount of training is minimal … then you must attend class for that cost … so while some people think it’s nbd, that’s their budget, not someone else’s). Some people have great experiences, but that’s generally attributed to the tutor/friends made than the curriculum itself (sure, they have some good stuff and chose some good stuff that other people wrote, … but on its own without a good human in charge of the classroom, it really really is bad, like most things)
There are so many positives, like anything else. But I just wanted you to know that the things you said wouldn’t work for you family are legitimate things about CC. You weren’t wrong. You were correct that those things do exist, do work for some families, and do NOT work for others. And that’s okay. You were giving an opinion that was not unresearched and was actually correct.
One time I was told by the highest levels of Essentials that a child could NEVER overdrill the material in memorizing it and they were speaking of a child who is Mensa-recognized with a photographic memory. It was like … asking me to work on memorizing my ABCs. The thing is, the experiences people have had don’t always represent the overarching management (whether they’ve had a good or bad experience). Someone can have a chill director who doesn’t buy into all the junk, or you can have a Type AAA person who doesn’t recognize gray areas and makes everything a “no” and has a rigid, awful situation. But many of these issues do lie with the management up above who have some core beliefs that they refuse to recognize as incorrect. And the company has created an environment that allows for some pretty bad situations.
None of this is my story. It’s just some things that are unfortunately true of this company. And like I said, I don’t actually desire to tell my story. But that desire starts to creep up when I see these unhealthy defenses of a legitimate article that merely set out to say why something didn’t work for her family. It’s not even like you were wrong and someone could kindly give you more information. You are actually correct.
Hi! I’m about 5 years late to the party here, so I’m not sure if you’ll see this. But I’m a homeschool mom considering CC and I personally found your blog post helpful.
I use a classical Christian model at home but had never considered CC seriously because the groups were too far away. Well…one just decided to use our church as a host site. Right next door to my house. When I’ve been praying that the Lord would bring Christian education options to our town. It seemed like a no-brainer!! But as I learn more, I am increasingly hesitant. The biggest drawback to me is the schedule. My husband is a pastor, so Sunday is a work day for him. Friday becomes a weekend day and so far we have made Mon-Thurs our school days. It has worked well and we get our work done. But CC here would be all Monday morning. And from talking to other CC moms, the assigned work adds an hour to every other school day that week. Yikes! I lose Monday for all my other subjects AND an hour a day?
What I was hoping most for our of CC was community with other families seeking a similar education, help in subjects I just can’t figure out how to do as well as I’d like (Fine Arts, Science), and accountability to do the “hard” stuff of a classical education. It seems CC would give me that. But all the negatives you mention are serious food for thought, especially in addition to the other concerning comments I’ve read, both from CC moms and ones who chose against CC. I will continue to pray about it…and if you happen to have any further insight on the matter, I’m happy to read it. But I wanted to say thank you for writing something well balanced and NOT a dramatic gossip piece.
Welcome! I’m always happy to see comments on older posts and that’s why I leave them open. I’m glad you found this post helpful. I can see why the scheduling and additional demands on your time would give you pause with CC.
My daughter is 15 now. (She was 10 when I wrote the post.) I have never once regretted the decision to not do CC. I was absolutely right it was not a good fit for her and that conviction has only grown since then. She requires a completely different kind of education and that is what God has called me to do.
The only comment I would add specific to what you’ve shared is that you have a unique family culture because of your husband’s vocation. It sounds like you’ve established a family pattern that works well for you. I would personally think long and hard about messing that up for something that isn’t necessary. CC could turn out to be great for you. But for families who are used to doing things their own way (like mine and like yours), it does mean giving up some of that freedom and autonomy. I think you already sense that, but I wanted to make a point of agreeing with your insight there.
Let me know what you decide!