Classical Conversations #2: What Led You to Join a Classical Conversations Homeschool Community? #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

Classical Conversations, #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

Classical Conversations #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

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NOTE: This is part of a series that began with this post: Classical Conversations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Please take a seat and join the conversation, even if you aren’t a homeschool parent. I think you might find it interesting.

When I encountered the family who participated in Classical Conversations at the homeschool family camp in Washington state. I incorrectly assumed that this family was part of a homeschool group from the Pacific Northwest. What did I know? I had come from Virginia Beach where we had our own homeschool athletic clubs. If memory serves correctly, they even competed with local area schools. How cool is that?!

Here’s the thing about homeschooling many people don’t understand: homeschooling is vast with many “flavors.” I’m not sure when it registered for me that Classical Conversations was far more than just a group meeting in the Seattle area. Boy, I sure was wrong.

Check this out:

Did you know:

  • As of January 2018, there are over 117,000 students enrolled in Classical Conversations.
  • 45,000 Families are participating in Classical Conversations.
  • There are over 2,500 Classical Conversations communities in all 50 states.
  • Classical Conversations communities are in 22 different foreign countries. 

Because I have a diverse readership here, perhaps it would be good to go back to the beginning so that those who aren’t familiar with Classical Conversations or who don’t homeschool can understand more about it.

Each of you has a personal story of why you joined. Whether your experience ended up being positive or negative, I think most parents had their children’s best interest in mind when they chose Classical Conversations. So, to help my readers and me understand more, can you tell us:

What appealed to you about Classical Conversations?

What did it offer that other programs did not have?

What end goals you were attempting to achieve by joining Classical Information?

Did the program work for you?  Why or why not?

Feel free to elaborate. This is your place to share!

64 comments on “Classical Conversations #2: What Led You to Join a Classical Conversations Homeschool Community? #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

  1. Well, we joined so our kids would have friends. And, to be honest, for the four years we were there, that is mostly why we stayed.

    I didn’t think much about what we were paying (even though we were a hair’s breath from the poverty love at that time) because it seemed like such a great opportunity for structured, weekly social contact while also getting some learning done.

    Our community was unique in that we did a ton together even outside of CC days. And we did a lot of extra social stuff ON CC days.

    It really wasn’t until the corporate overlords stepped in and said we were doing it all wrong that things went sour. They literally would not “give in” to the smallest changes – things we didn’t even see as “changes” because we’re been doing them that way the whole time. But the overlords weighed our full, vibrant, thriving community and found us wanting because we didn’t do things exactly the “CC Way”. And I mean stupid little things like how we didn’t hand-write memory work on our boards. We were partly having them in computer print because of the many dyslexic kids in our community who found all the different handwriting styles difficult to read. But that didn’t matter. The “CC Way” was king and we were tossed aside. Technically, our entire, full community left CC (save the newly-crowned corporate overlord in our community and her good friend). But CC didn’t much care that we left. I think they figured they could just fill in our spots with new, more naive members who would just follow the rules without question.

    It’s been three years, and I don’t think they’ve made up the numbers they lost in our city, but I don’t know. The surrounding suburbian towns seem to be doing better, numbers-wise. Something is still drawing people in, and I honestly think it’s not curriculum for most but the thought of instant social ties for their kids.

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  2. We joined for the seemingly instant social ties the community promised, and to be honest, we stayed four years for that community aspect.

    I think if the 45,000+ families who are a part of CC got really honest with themselves they’d admit they also attend almost entirely for the insta-social connection as well.

    You can see it in the way families who don’t get “plugged in” socially leave pretty quickly.

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  3. I joined CC in 2012 with 3 kids ages 5-7 after moving to a new state (military move). The local homeschool community was so large and I wanted a community. However, I found that CC was so much more. It provided my kids a great Foundation for their studies. (It is called Foundations after all.) 8 years later we are still part of the same community and I doubt that I would have made it homeschooling through middle school without it. Now that those 3 are in (or going into) Challenge this year, I can attest that it works —for both my gifted and my struggling student. My kids have learned to take ownership of their education and my job is pretty minimal now.

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  4. I will admit we started in CC because 1) it was off the shelf without much for mom to choose and 2) for the community aspect.

    Right now we are still a CC family. Will we be long term? I don’t know. Or local, tiny, community is great. My kids are close with other families in the program. Our local leadership above our group is very good, very practical, and mature spiritually, so I don’t see either of the local leaders doing abusive unbiblical stuff like other CC leaders, probably well-intentioned do to families who get “out of line.” There are definitely big problems in the organization.

    Directors are recruited, with no business background, who don’t seem to understand or take seriously that they are now business owners. (and understand they aren’t making much – even for those with a COMPLETELY full campus, this is still a little side job and doesn’t pay much per hour) BUT:

    1.a. They don’t represent themselves as a business when asking for space in a church.

    1.b. “tutors” are hired with one-sided contracts (director retains right to sue you, but you waive right to sue them) as 1099/independent contractors but yet are told EXACTLY what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it …

    1.c. tutors, despite 1099 status, are required to attend “free” training on an annual basis … “free” if you have other free babysitting options … but most tutors pay for camp … that PAYS for the three day marketing event known as “practicum”. Pays for the church rental. Pays for the main speaker. Pays for the trainer for your free training. Practicums get cancelled when not enough kids are enrolled in camp …. (plus 18 hours of your time between morning & afternoon)

    1.d. tutors are also required to attend tutor meetings (~8 hours/year) / planning (at least ~ 1 hr week?), classroom prep/clean-up (~1 hr week) AND to be prepared to do two mornings of Memory Master testing (~ let’s say 3 hours). None of this training, meetings, testing or prep time is separately compensated. In a completely full campus (or a campus with each class having exactly 8 kids), pay is about $65/week – on a 1099 basis – so you’re paying more taxes on that. But that’s only for the 24 weeks of curriculum.

    so:
    Practicum: 6 hours x 3 days = 18 hours
    Tutor Meetings: 2 hours x 4 meetings = 8 hours
    Prep at home + Classroom set-up & clean-up = 2 hours/week (48 hours)
    Actual classroom time = 3 hours/week (72 hours)
    Memory Master Testing = 4 hours (4 hours)

    150 hours

    $65/week x 24 weeks = $1560 BEFORE TAXES – both normal & self employed business taxes

    so with a full class, you’re making about $10/hr (ignoring the camp fees, nursery fees, extra books you have to buy)

    BUT if your campus has lower enrollment (say 5 kids/class): $41/week x 24 weeks = $984 … but still the same commitment of time … now your hourly rate is down to 6.56 (again ignoring the camp fees, nursery fees, extra books you have to buy)

    SRs, the level of management above the Directors, run the practicums. They recruit volunteers to do all sorts of stuff for this corporate marketing event. AGAIN FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK: spiritual pressure is used to get busy homeschool moms to volunteer and donate for a corporate marketing event. They solicit families to donate food for the volunteers AND DIRECTORS AND MANAGERS. They pressure families to sign up for practicum and camp.

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  5. Kami,

    Whoa! I had my doubts about the intentions of the camps. I am required to do tutor training but I refuse to put my kids in camps. That is two weeks of my tutor pay, um, no. Someone (online) running a camp told me that I should be thankful that my training was free. Lol, wut? Who pays for job training? I just really, really hate Practicum. There are so many better, less time consuming ways to train tutors. I feel like we have to be there to fill the room. That is total conjecture, btw.

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  6. Q 1 – What appealed to you about Classical Conversations?
    A – I am a second generation homeschool mom of 6 young children. I FIRST began looking into CC because a couple of friends from church were recommending it. After checking out the curriculum, I attended a community day for the younger children (4-12yr olds) and loved everything I saw. The children were learning vast amounts of information and having a great time doing it! I loved the opportunity for the kids to work on science experiments alongside other children. I loved that they were being exposed to great music and art. I loved that they were not learning just to be tested and then move on, but they were training their brains to truly retain information and recall it. I loved that through memorizing a timeline of history they were giving the children (and the parents!) a filing system in their heads to store and recall what they learn (I think of Sherlock Holmes and his mind palace, lol! :-D). I loved what I saw of the high school youth. The quality of humble, intelligent conversations they had with each other was impressive. I wanted this type of education for my children.

    But NOW, looking back at our 5 years in this program I see so much more. CC seeks to help us to build attentiveness in our children. Regular textbook learning is based on an author who decided what our kids should learn about a subject, asks all the questions for them, and then tells them to find the answers in their text. I want to inspire my kids to have their own curiosity. I want them to look at God’s world and be filled with awe and questions, and then I want them to have the tools to learn about that subject. That’s what CC’s heart is. Yes, we all do memorize the same information in CC, but, as I understand it, the purpose is to 1) to build attentiveness, 2) to model how to boil a new subject down to its grammar, 3) to keep them from being dependent on having to always look something up, 4) to make learning a new subject quicker, 5) to give them information to work with so that they can then build their own ideas. If we want kids to be front runners in thinking, then we have to give them an organized base of knowledge to work from. This is so much more than what first attracted me to CC.

    I also love that anyone can do this with their children whether they have above average students, average students, or students with learning struggles because the parent remains the teacher. One commenter couldn’t understand how the program could be used with someone who was dyslexic, but I am happy to share that there were two dyslexic boys in our Essentials class learning how to write complex paragraphs, papers, and diagram sentences. Their moms have handled that by doing the writing for them and keeping it more oral until their kids could handle more on paper. It was beautiful to see how much these boys knew and how they weren’t being held back due to their limitations. A beauty of CC is that the parents get to decide how to make it work for each of their own children.

    As a tutor in my community, my main job was to use CC curriculum to model the classical model so that parents are equipped to classically teach their children at home. I have seen better tutors than others. I personally went through a transformation in my understanding of what the classical model is this last year. I definitely ended the year a more classical tutor than I began it, and have much more to learn this coming year. We are all on a journey of learning, and when we are humble, it is beautiful! ❤ Pride is a great destroyer. It is what tears communities apart and causes much heartache. CC is not perfect, but people in my community know Leigh Bortins personally, and her desire is not self motivated or to harm us. She and her staff are also on a journey of learning how to best run this program. (Also, the reason as I understand it, that CC is a for-profit organization is because they have more freedom and less government intervention than they would as a non-for-profit.) As tutors we are to share CC’s heart and curriculum to help equip parents on their own classical learning journeys.

    Q 2- What did it offer that other programs did not have?
    A – CC teaches how and why to learn, not just what to learn. They seek to grow curiosity and attentiveness in children. They try to teach to the natural strengths God has given to children in each of their stages of development. These are just different from other programs I’ve run into offer.

    Q 3 – What end goals you were attempting to achieve by joining Classical Conversations?
    A – I want to help my children to love the Lord and the world He has created. I want them to be curious and know how to think and learn about anything they come across. I want them to be able to humbly and boldly communicate well with others to be able to be used of the Lord in whatever capacity He leads them in.

    Q 4 – Did the program work for you?  Why or why not?
    A – So far, yes! I have been a part of CC for 5 years now. I have had the opportunity to be a part of two different communities, as well as do it on my own for a semester after a move. Is it perfect? No, it’s made up of imperfect people. And there are now thousands of imperfect families in CC. There is no way every single one is going to be completely happy with it. In my experience some communities follow CC’s heart and goals better than other ones. My current community has been amazing. The humility and godliness of these ladies caused me to grow incredibly this last year which in turn gave me the most peaceful and joyful year of school yet.

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  7. Kami – Thank you for the numbers and explaining part of the business side of CC. This isn’t the right post to discuss this on, but I would really like to know the business model breakdown. From top to bottom including roles and responsibilities. Who is employed and who is volunteer?

    If you have insight into this and have the time and desire to answer, would you send an email to Julie Anne in the contact section. She can forward it on to me. No pressure — only if you want to.

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  8. The 1099 might be a real problem for them. Because of high-profile cases, including Microsoft having to pay contractors stock options, there are sharp legal distinctions between employees and contractors. Basically, an employee is expected to have skin in the game when it comes to advancing the company, and an employer is allowed to control details of an employee’s work. A contractor, on the other hand is a person who is hired to complete a specific job, and is expected to complete that task with independence.

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  9. Mark, you’re correct. We could start an entirely separate post on the IC vs. Employee decision that EVERY Foundations/Essentials Director has to make when starting his/her own Classical Conversations business. Maybe that is something Julie Anne and her team have already looked into?

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  10. Mark – the Landry Academy case would be more directly applicable.

    The 1099 thing annoys me every February when doing my schedule C and again I realize I’m paying taxes on being paid to teach my own kid.

    Plus I’ve never gotten a straight answer about the taxpayer ID number of CC (from a couple of directors and SRs) so I can claim the practicum camp as childcare while I attend required work training …

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  11. I joined CC because I was a tired mama who had been homeschooling for many years and the director told me it was a complete program. All I needed to add was phonics/reading instruction and math to the Foundations age. It really isn’t enough in my opinion. It doesn’t even seem like a truly Classical education without all the wonderful living books other curriculums include. That $300+ tuition fee could buy a lot of great books.

    How well do kids remember these facts without a trigger question being asked? My kids did a fabulous job with the memorization but I think they understand more when we read an excellent book on a topic instead of just memorizing a sentence.

    How will the kids who’ve already memorized so much of the work do now that they are putting out a 5th edition with a bunch of changes? Who wants to buy new guides, maps, and CD’s that get changed a bit every four or five years? Especially when they have to sign a contract agreeing not to sell their curriculum outside of the community or use their curriculum without being under a licensed director? What other homeschool curriculum providers have you sign a contract agreeing not to resell your books?

    As an entity, Classical Conversation exerts a lot of control over the communities. The start time, breaks during the day, not allowing things like science experiments to be done in larger groups (versus the small classes). They require directors and tutors to attend the training/orientation sessions even if they are a few hours away and it puts a financial burden on them. They are a for profit company that makes at least 20 million a year and they request budget stretched homeschooling moms to volunteer their time to their “free” practicums. Ask CC to tell you how much they make in book sales during the three day practicum.

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  12. This is an interesting thread, and one I will follow with interest.

    Our family spent two years in CC. Why did we choose it? We had just moved to a new state in the East and knew no one, so I naturally thought this would be a good place to connect with serious homeschoolers who were academic, we lived in a rural community, and I was en experience homeschool mom (over 14 years) and wanted a little break. I had known friends and acquaintances that had done CC with mixed reviews. I had one child in Foundations/Essentials and 2 kids in the Challenge high school program. I am a high school teacher by training and used the classical method with my kids before we joined CC.

    I realize that each CC community is different and the environment is very much set by the director. Our community was a great disappointment on every level. My son will tell you that the two years of high school he did in CC were a total waste. First of all, when participating in the high school program the assignments are laid out for each week. Kids are expected to do the work and then come to “class” to see it modeled and discuss it with the class and tutor. This is the stage where thinking and analyzing (rhetoric stage) is supposed to take place. However, that is almost impossible to do when the tutor (what the “teacher” of Challenge is called) is not allowed to give grades, correct papers, or have any kind of consequence for incomplete work. So therefore, each week multiple students would not do a majority of the work. So the discussion time was a waste. Students writing never improved, because they just learned a “formula” for writing and copied it for every paper every week. So yes, my son wrote 15 papers per semester for Music/Art history, but was making the same errors and not improving his writing skill at all over the course of a semester. He quickly learned that it wasn’t worth a lot of effort to write a really great paper or a trashy one if all you got was a check mark saying you completed it. So, I was paying an extremely insane amount of money for him to come home and me teach him the subjects. We still had to do math on our own because everyone else in his class was a year behind. So basically, we lost one day a week of academic work to go socialize.

    The debate portion of Challenge was an absolute joke.  Basically he was given the debate book and told to read it and write a debate. As a former debate coach, I realized this was going to do more damage than good.  I was asked to Judge the debate and give feedback.  The kids were not taught even the basics of what a formal debate should be. 
    
    After one year of that, I elected to keep him in for the social aspect.  So I am paying for CC for social reasons, which is ridiculous.  CC also changed the rules that year and you had to pay for each subject and could not opt out of any because evidently parents were cherry picking which subjects to take.So I had my son do an online writing program to prep him for college. 
    
    The worst part of our experience was that the kids were not nice.  The tutor also did not appreciate my son’s questions.  He is one who wants to know the why of things.  He doesn’t simply accept things as fact.   They found that threatening. So when he questioned courtship in the book/play they read in Challenge 1, he meet serious resistance. 
    
    I hope you do another post on the hierarchy and pay set up for CC.  That is a discussion in and of itself.  I got heavy pressure to teach Challenge IV, trained to teach Essentials and backed out, and then interviewed for the area rep.  I ran for the hills when I discovered how it operated.   The practicum is another story also. 
    
    My biggest beef with CC is that they do not train their tutors in how to teach.  They go to a lot of meetings, but I am not sure what it did. To expect the Challenge tutors to be able to teach math, Latin, science, debate, writing, literature is a joke.  CC claims the tutor is just to be a facilitator.  Really? For the price they charge, I expected more. But when you do the math, they have to have a full class of 10. I think, to just break even. So all of my kids had tutors that were in way over their heads.  The training I did was pathetic.  She did not know anything about Essentials and could not answer even basic English questions.  These are moms who simply want to homeschool their kids and CC provides a means to do that. So I get it.  CC really does help new families and families that feel they need the support to continue.  It provides community.
    
    I will say, if done the way it is written, the Essentials program for elementary is suburb.  Unfortunately, our community was too  laid back and did the bare minimum.  My son who did it, who is now in private high school, says that those 2 years really took the joy out of writing. 
    The pressure from the directors each year was intense.  In February they were already asking who was coming back, who was teaching, etc.  There was shuffling each year between other campuses and it just created division.  
    
    I could say more, but our conclusion was that CC charges a lot of money for very little return.  We ended up driving an hour away to take college classes and do another co-op that actually gave grades and tests. Both my high school kids said that was the best decision we made. 
    

    I am glad some of you have had great experiences with CC. Like I said before, like churches, CC communities reflect the posture and personality of the directors.

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  13. Thank you Kami for those details! I was very curious about pay stuff. Sounds like they use training to force people to put their kids in camp, which is terrible.

    Someone (online) running a camp told me that I should be thankful that my training was free. Lol, wut? Who pays for job training?

    Usually, you get paid to attend training in a regular job.

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  14. Jen: I am happy to share that there were two dyslexic boys in our Essentials class learning how to write complex paragraphs, papers, and diagram sentences. Their moms have handled that by doing the writing for them and keeping it more oral until their kids could handle more on paper.

    Wait, what? How was that helpful?

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  15. What Led You to Join a Classical Conversations Homeschool Community? It certainly wasn’t the money made or paid. 😦

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  16. Kami and Lea. The topic of practicum and training at said practicum is DEFINITELY one that deserves a post of it’s own. I hope that is on the list since ’tis the season.

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  17. I rarely post so please forgive the blip in my earlier post. Here is the part that somehow got blocked in a different type:

    The debate portion of Challenge was an absolute joke. Basically he was given the debate book and told to read it and write a debate. As a former debate coach, I realized this was going to do more damage than good. I was asked to Judge the debate and give feedback. The kids were not taught even the basics of what a formal debate should be.

    After one year of that, I elected to keep him in for the social aspect. So I am paying for CC for social reasons, which is ridiculous. CC also changed the rules that year and you had to pay for each subject and could not opt out of any because evidently parents were cherry picking which subjects to take. So I had my son do an online writing program to prep him for college.

    The worst part of our experience was that the kids were not nice. The tutor also did not appreciate my son’s questions. He is one who wants to know the why of things. He doesn’t simply accept things as fact. They found that threatening. So when he questioned courtship in the book/play they read in Challenge 1, he meet serious resistance.

    I hope you do another post on the hierarchy and pay set up for CC. That is a discussion in and of itself. I got heavy pressure to teach Challenge IV, trained to teach Essentials and backed out, and then interviewed for the area rep. I ran for the hills when I discovered how it operated. The practicum is another story also.

    My biggest beef with CC is that they do not train their tutors in how to teach. They go to a lot of meetings, but I am not sure what it did. To expect the Challenge tutors to be able to teach math, Latin, science, debate, writing, literature is a joke. CC claims the tutor is just to be a facilitator. Really? For the price they charge, I expected more. But when you do the math, they have to have a full class of 10. I think, to just break even. So all of my kids had tutors that were in way over their heads. The training I did was pathetic. She did not know anything about Essentials and could not answer even basic English questions. These are moms who simply want to homeschool their kids and CC provides a means to do that. So I get it. CC really does help new families and families that feel they need the support to continue. It provides community.

    I will say, if done the way it is written, the Essentials program for elementary is suburb. Unfortunately, our community was too laid back and did the bare minimum. My son who did it, who is now in private high school, says that those 2 years really took the joy out of writing. I concur with Lea’s earlier post that it was common in our group for moms to write the papers in Essentials for their kids.

    The pressure from the directors each year was intense. In February they were already asking who was coming back, who was teaching, etc. There was shuffling each year between other campuses and it just created division.

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  18. survivorinco: The debate portion of Challenge was an absolute joke. Basically he was given the debate book and told to read it and write a debate.

    What??? That is…not how debate works. Terrible! I’m glad you reposted because I was curious to read about the debate part (since I did debate in high school and have a mild attachment to it 😉

    The tutor also did not appreciate my son’s questions. He is one who wants to know the why of things. He doesn’t simply accept things as fact. They found that threatening.

    survivorinco, I thought that was the point of all this ‘classic education/rhetoric/etc’, that people knew how to question and think? Ugh.

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  19. Practicum would make a good topic.

    If any CC leadership is reading this, if requiring tutor training is NOT a way to fill camps to pay for a marketing event, maybe you could offer refresher tutor training that was an intense shorter session on Saturdays? Even if we had to pay for lunch from the meeting place (hotel meeting rooms can often be booked with a food buy) it would be cheaper than camps for most of us, more clearly a business expense for our taxes, and frankly easier to concentrate if kids were left at home with Daddy!

    And if refreshment for moms is part of the goal, putting young homeschool-family babies or toddlers in ALL DAY daycare is a shock to their system …

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  20. Julie Anne,

    I’m glad you are doing this series and giving people a place to discuss. I was very wary of the legal implications of doing so and that’s why I was cautious about what I allowed people to say in the comment section of my post. You have a better handle on that so I’m glad you are willing to tackle this.

    I did link up and point people to your first two posts because I know there are people who want to share their story. I had people send me private emails to tell me their stories. Some of them are really heartbreaking. (I also know a LOT of people subscribed to the comments of my post to keep track of what was being said. Every time someone leaves a comment I get a boost in traffic from it.)

    I am still surprised, over a year later, at the sheer number of responses I got to that post as well as the length of many of them. I thought it might get a few comments, but nothing like what happened.

    I’ll be reading your series with interest. I am especially interested in someone breaking down the legal and financial aspects. That came up time and again in comments/emails, but I chose not to dig myself further in to the CC topic.

    If anyone hasn’t seen my original post, this is the one I’m talking about.

    https://sallieborrink.com/classical-conversations-negatives-didnt-join/

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  21. I read your post from last year on this same topic, Sallie. You were extremely gracious to the nay-sayers on your post and your diplomacy reminds me of another lovely redhead. . . wink!

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  22. Kami, I’m sorry to say that your practical suggestions for practicum, to ease the burden, have been suggested year after year after year by the SRs and ARs in the field and CC doesn’t seem to listen. Suggestions of all kinds were made to try and help ease the financial burden for those with larger families who couldn’t find childcare. An all day Saturday training was suggested, a one-day training during one of the three days so tutors and directors could see 2 full days was suggested. Many other doable suggestions as well. Deaf ears apparently. One of my practicums had to be cancelled because there weren’t enough campers to pay for the workers. Funny thing though, we had over 30 tutors registered for training. Then Directors were asked to tell how many of their families were NOT attending. Then the guilt. “Practicum will be cancelled and the tutors and directors will have to travel over and hour and a half to get their training. I’m so sorry. 😦

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  23. sallie, I did a bare bones conservative financial “report” based on numbers CC publishes on their corporate website and I was shocked. And that is NOT including what they take in at a practicum. I am interested too. (I’ve followed your blog since your daughter was born. thank you for sharing many words of wisdom.)

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  24. Lea asked about the rationale for using dictation to teach writing with dyslexic children.

    I’ve got zero information on CC practice, but the dictation method is helpful for people whose cognitive understanding outstrips their writing ability. It’s used by kindergarten teachers, special education teachers, ESL teachers. By removing the frustration of actually writing correctly on first draft, students get a chance to see and reflect on their own best thinking instead of quitting in frustration before they get that far. It can be the bridge to skilled writing later. I’ve seen students just light up to read proof ofwhat was in their brains all along.

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  25. Sallieborrink, thank you for allowing people to share their experiences in response to your blog post. It was a balm to my soul. I was amazed at how CC supporters came in droves to glorify their curriculum. I find it very strange when they find negative comments they feel the need to inform the rest of their group so they can make an attempt to drown out the very real concerns people have. Is that the result of being in an echo chamber and thinking your leader’s ideas are above every other curriculum providers?

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  26. Kami, Am I understanding correctly the fees for camp is what pays for the guest speaker and the use of the church building for the three day practicum? Are directors and tutors required to bring their families to practicums? If so, how on earth can a corporation legally require directors and tutors to bring their kids to their orientation sessions? Also, who is legally responsible for any injures that may occur during the camps?

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  27. I put my son in CC Challenge for 2 years. He needed to be accountable to someone else besides me. It was not a good fit for us. Several Observations: The rigidity does not work for a Challenge Class that has a mix of kids/families new to CC and kids that have been in CC since age 5. The tutor did not slow down in Latin or give a separate schedule for the students brand new to Latin. She did not address the issue until Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, the schedule/material for Latin in Challenge B is very heavy and overwhelming to a child that has never been exposed/or had little exposure to Latin. I’ve heard of other groups that have special tutoring/schedules for new students, but our group did not. I did not know and was not informed that the other kids had been learning Latin for years and my son would be at a major disadvantage and would have a major challenge to keep up with the work.

    The writing component ended up working for my son. They had just changed over to Lost Tools of Writing and by working/learning with my son, we made it work for us. But once again, he was at a disadvantage because most of the class had done Essentials (which I gather can be 3 years) while in Foundations. My son had to learn how to write a paper along with keeping up with the reading.

    So the workload for some students can be fairly light or easier due to the exposure/preparation in earlier years while others are drowning in work. I liked the idea of the “mock trial” and they did a good job of prepping for it, but my son does not memorize well and does not do well in front of others, so it was not a good experience for my son.

    Practicum was awful. I did not know that parents were not required to attend. Our particular speaker rambled. At the time, I had been homeschooling for over 10 years, so I was excited to attend a “free” homeschooling event. It ended up being a complete waste of time, and many people did not return for the second day.

    I believe Challenge could be a good experience, albeit an expensive one, if parents/students know up front what they are getting into and how they would fit in with the rest of the students. There also need to be study groups/tutoring options for families new to CC in the high school years.

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  28. Lauren – yes, the camp fees fund Practicum, including covering the church rental, hired camp leaders, speaker fees, trainer fees (the person who leads tutor training or training for higher levels), etc. They also normally take an offering to offset practicum costs and/or to go to the church.

    Directors and tutors are required to attend themselves but only highly encouraged to put their children in camp, and directors are encouraged to donate supplies as well. Each family signs waivers when you sign up for camp.

    The other source of income is the book sales, which can be tens of thousands in sales at a large practicum, but that money does NOT cover costs for the Practicum. It goes back to corporate and a percentage is paid to the book seller as commission.

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  29. Kami, So the practicum is purely a financial gain for CC corporate because of the three day book sales? Or do they contribute financially to the practicum? Are higher ups like area or state managers paid by CC for their time put into the practicum?The practicum really isn’t free for anyone else who puts their children in the camps or is asked to donate their time, supplies, food, or an offering right? When I worked outside my home, I was paid to attend orientation so this seems counter intuitive if CC is marketed as a business opportunity to directors.

    Like

  30. Survivorinco said:

    “The worst part of our experience was that the kids were not nice. The tutor also did not appreciate my son’s questions. He is one who wants to know the why of things. He doesn’t simply accept things as fact. They found that threatening. So when he questioned courtship in the book/play they read in Challenge 1, he meet serious resistance.”

    Just curious what book they use regarding courtship?

    (Julie Anne, if this isn’t relevant please feel free to delete this comment. I don’t want to steer discussion off topic.)

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  31. Julie Anne (sorry to go off topic here),

    I just sent you an e-mail to your G-Mail address that is advertised on the upper right hand side of this page.
    Would you please be so kind and read the e-Mail I sent you, and let me know if you received it / read it?
    Thank you.

    Like

  32. Monique asked: Just curious what book they use regarding courtship?

    They used Ravi Zacharias’ “I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah: Moving from Romance to Lasting Love“. It was an interesting read for 9th graders, and the class discussion from my son’s perspective took a very pro courtship approach.

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  33. Tutors are required to attend practicum every year, both sessions according to my directors. The day is split into morning and afternoon session. The morning is designed for you to see the big picture, how CC works from the grammar stage to the rhetoric stage. The afternoons (for tutors) are tutor training sessions. So I have now attended 6 full practicums and 2 additional afternoon sessions for tutor training. I really don’t mind doing the afternoons, I realize that job training can be part of deal for any job. My job at VIPKid requires me to watch video tutorials and take quizzes occasionally, and I don’t get paid for those (IC status there, too).

    My issue is the morning session. It’s the same message every year. It’s designed to excite a new parent into joining the program or for those that have recently joined, to find their footing in the program. Awesome. I’m neither new nor trying to gain footing. My kids have been in CC since kindergarten (my eldest is going into 6th grade), I’m headed for challenge. I don’t want to be tortured every year for the sake of filling an auditorium. I am fortunate that I have outside (free) childcare because the camps cost $142 for my three kids :O. This is ridiculous. I tutor to pay for my kids tuition. If I send them to camp, this is like tutoring two weeks for free.

    When I have brought this up, I have been told that it helps to keep the training free for everyone. So they want their dedicated members to pay for new moms to have a free practicum? Um, no, if practicum is that important, take some of my $280 registration fee that I pay to corporate every year and make the best practicum money can buy. The practicum speakers are mediocre at best. So not only are you required to sit there and hear the info for the 5th, 6th, 7th time, you are just making lists in your head of all the things you could be doing that are a more productive use of you time. I hope CC is reading these. I have been down the practicum uselessness trail every year for five years now with no results.

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  34. Lauren said:

    Sallieborrink, thank you for allowing people to share their experiences in response to your blog post. It was a balm to my soul. I was amazed at how CC supporters came in droves to glorify their curriculum. I find it very strange when they find negative comments they feel the need to inform the rest of their group so they can make an attempt to drown out the very real concerns people have. Is that the result of being in an echo chamber and thinking your leader’s ideas are above every other curriculum providers?

    Hi Lauren – I’m glad you were encouraged by the discussion over there.

    I said this in a comment on my own site, but I’ll say it here too. This is like watching Vision Forum 2.0. I don’t know if you were around for that debacle, but it was epic and many of us saw it coming. We warned people. We raised red flags about things that seemed “off” and not quite right for YEARS. As you can imagine, WE were the problem, shunned, and dismissed. (Sound familiar?)

    Watching the CC stuff unfold is like the same song, second verse of the VF collapse. The big difference this time is people are alleging things involving the IRS. If these allegations are true, that would make the CC situation much worse than VF because CC would be opening up many regular families to all kinds of potential financial issues and IRS entanglement.

    Like

  35. I have 2 questions and 1 comment.
    Does CC operate like a pyramid scheme? Why is courtship a part of CC’s teachings?
    Someone asked something like who or “what curriculum provider requires users to sign something saying it can’t be sold?”(don’t know who asked but now I can’t find it in comments). One answer is ATIA. We used ATIA materials from 1993-96 before we knew the truth about Gothard. Anyway we were told we couldn’t sell, give away or even share with others! We happened to live in Mongolia at the time. My husband taught a brief scripture lesson to a small group in a tiny shack with no electricity. One Sat evening when temp was below 0 he burned some of the materials in a wood burning stove. We weren’t told we couldn’t burn it.

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  36. Sallie, I knew the VF came to an end, but since I never used anything from them I didn’t pay much attention. I am so weary and heartsick when I learn about more things that have gone on in CC communities and how they classify directors and tutors so the tax burden is passed on to them. I pray the craziness will come to an end. With HSLDA being involved with them, new members of CC and people who buy the 5th edition of the FG are given a one year membership with HSLDA. How have a bunch of lawyers not extensively read the CC contracts? Or have they been involved all along?

    Cindy Brunson, I was the one who asked if there was any other curriculum company that requires users to sign a statement agreeing they won’t sell their materials or use them without being under the guidance of a CC director. So ATIA did huh? Crazy stuff. Hopefully in the future that kind of secrecy will make people pause before getting involved.

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  37. cctutor, did you have any of your own kids in your classes? I think it is crazy they make tutors pay tuition to CC just so they can tutor their own kids. Some private schools give their teachers and other employees free tution for their children.

    What do they classify tutors as right now? Independent contractors or employees? If they classify them as IC’s how do they get away with having them sign non-compete agreements?

    Cindy Brunson, I’ve heard CC being compared to multi-level marketing. It seems to be a strange hybrid of MLM and a franchise.

    Like

  38. That whole “have the parents do [x] with their legally owned copies of printed materials” always cracks me up. The Supreme Court doesn’t agree with these curriculum companies. It says First Sale Doctrine holds. Yay! 😂

    Like

  39. Julie Anne, I didn’t know that about Calvert. We were told that we
    couldn’t throw away or destroy the curriculum after using it. I guess we were suppose to keep it forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I’m finding the used curriculum questions and answers very interesting. I’ve been to my fair share of used curriculum sales and swaps. If there were a lot of companies that told people they could not sell, share, or swap, then there are a lot of homeschoolers not following the rules.

    I used many different teaching curriculums and bought used when I could. There was no issue with the person selling the curriculum. How is CC different? This article has the following:

    https://oaxacaborn.com/illegal-resale-and-copyright-law/

    “…once a copyright holder sells the copyrighted volume to a consumer, the copyright holder’s rights have been exhausted, and the consumer has the right to dispose of (not copy, but dispose of) the book any way he or she sees fit.”

    Like

  41. Different perspective here… my younger siblings were in CC for their high school years. My mom had become aware of its existence when I was that age, but there wasn’t a program near us at the time so I guess I dodged a bullet. (I did not play well with others at that age and based on what I later observed with the structure… I would’ve killed someone.) Fast-forward a couple years and on the other side of some tangles with the local homeschool co-op (again due to me aka the eldest child being a NIGHTMARE) and my mom just gave up and put my siblings in the suddenly-existent CC fifteen minutes from us. From what I heard, it was an EXPERIENCE. The format does seem to depend a lot on the person in charge, and the guy my siblings had was… maybe not a great influence, in the grand scheme of things. (Like, my brother picked a fight with him for being too sexist. My brother was 15 at the time and did NOT have particularly enlightened views on that subject and he STILL had an issue.) But they survived, and I think that may or may not be how my sister met her husband, and my mother was not asked to leave the community due to one of her children causing problems, so… I guess it worked?? Idk.

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  42. C’hristian companies are going to make unenforceable contracts, and then use Christianese pressure about oaths, etc., to hold employees/buyers to those contracts because it’s the “right thing to do(TM)”

    Being from a Christian non-profit background, I can say that the corporations will do whatever it takes to save their own butts and make a penny, even if it means pulling out the “no secular lawsuits” Bible verses.

    I think CC being a for-profit institution means especially that they can’t try to claim any sort of church/Christian connection. For-profit corporation means just that – they are in the biz to make money, not serve some higher purpose.

    Like

  43. Lea-

    As a mom of dyslexic kids, it works because when they dictate to the parent, they do no add grammar unless told, other than periods at the end of sentences. This allows the student to focus on content and word choice. Then the student will go back over the typed paper and correct any garmmar, etc. For someone who is dyslexic, getting thoughts onto paper can be very hard.

    As a dyslexic and mother to kids who are, I get itm. It is helpful, especially as they are just learning the writing process. As they become more comfortable with it, they no longer need to dictate it first.

    Now…this wouldn’t work very well in my house as I have several kids who are close in age and would need to dictate to me. With the amount of work they ask of students in Essentials, I’d bentyping papers all day!! No thank you!

    There are other reasons that Essentials isn’t a fit for our family, but this is the dyslexic portion. I’m glad it can work for some! It just won’t t for us.

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  44. Now…this wouldn’t work very well in my house as I have several kids who are close in age and would need to dictate to me.

    Thank you for the explanation above, but I think this is somewhat what I was thinking (also, iirc, the original mentioned nothing about dictation). Perhaps dictation software would be helpful here, most phones have some version of it for free.

    Like

  45. I tutored one year for CC- every single cent I made was given back to my director for tuition and even then, I still owed tuition each quarter. Not a big deal, right? I was not paid for tutor training or the monthly meetings we had. But I was SHOCKED when tax time came around. I knew I would have to pay taxes on my “earnings,” but I ended up owing 25% of what I had made. So,I actually LOST money tutoring for CC. What bugs me about this is the way they avoid paying taxes. Tutors are employees. They fit the IRS definition perfectly, but CC calls the “independent contractors” to avoid paying taxes on their employees, thereby making more money for themselves. It is extremely disingenuous and it is one of the main reasons we left CC after a year and a half.

    There are more reasons, but I’m done for now.

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  46. Pingback: Classical Conversations #3: Leaders Delete Comments and Block Commenters Who Don’t Toe the Line | Spiritual Sounding Board

  47. Pingback: Classical Conversations #4: A CC Veteran Gives Advice to New People Considering Classical Conversations | Spiritual Sounding Board

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  50. Here is my “biased” I have been a professional teacher for 35+ years in both private/public education (part of it in Christian settings question): How many CC high schoolers actually make it to an accredited college/university, Christian or otherwise? It doesn’t sound like science is being taught by science teachers, that there is any foreign language, or technology training (just to give examples) by actual, trained instructors. Would these same parents let their children take piano from someone who couldn’t play, or ballet from someone who didn’t know the five positions?

    I have friends who homeschool (not my first choice, by the way). However, they aren’t CCers. What I have respected about them is their readiness to get their older children in accredited classes for either enrichment or for an area in which the parent is not as skilled. CC just seems like a goofy program of well-meaning folks (I hope) who have no idea wha they’re doing with or for their kids. I find that VERY scary.

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  51. I joined because my spiritually abusive husband told me I had to. It wasn’t a terrible experience even though I drove 45 minutes to get to our community. My children and I made many good friends. We were there for 4 years and I tutored the last 2 so I could afford it. Then husband didn’t like the pledge, the pictures of Jesus, some of the history sentences…plus he stopped working so we couldn’t afford it at all, so we had to stop. I was approached recently to be a director of a community. Besides the husband (who, I’m now divorcing which is why I can have the liberty to speak) that was still upset with some content, I hated the MLM feel I got from the research I was doing while considering the task. It was more than enough to keep me away.

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  52. Pingback: Classical Conversations: Business or a Non-Profit; Cult or a Christian Homeschool Group? | Spiritual Sounding Board

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