NOTE: This is part of a series that began with these earlier posts:
- Classical Conversations #1: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Classical Conversations #2: What Led You to Join a Classical Conversations Homeschool Community? #ClassicalConvMadeKnown
- Classical Conversations #3: Leaders Delete Comments and Block Commenters Who Don’t Toe the Line
- Classical Conversations #4: A CC Veteran Gives Advice to New People Considering Classical Conversations
- Classical Conversations #5: Classical Conversations #5: Leaders Threaten to Use Legal Force to Silence a Concerned Parent
- Classical Conversations #6: Rigid Rules and Legal Tax Concerns
Note from Julie Anne: Here is another personal account that came in as a comment, but I felt it needed to be a post by itself. In this account, there is discussion about Classical Conversations functions in cult-like ways. Classical Conversations is so big that there are probably many groups that do not function as a cult, but it’s important to note the characteristics of controlling behavior which is the bedrock in cults.
Off the top of my head, here are some of the typical behaviors we see in high-controlling or cult-like groups:
- The group is the best and only acceptable group. All others are inferior.
- No other group measures up (educationally, Christian, etc).
- Members lose a sense of identity as they give more and more of their time to the group.
- No negative talk about the group is allowed.
- There are repercussions on anyone who challenges, criticizes, or talks negatively about the group.
- Those who leave the group are shunned.
- Those who leave are labeled as sinners, evil, anything negative.
- Image is very important to the group. Defend the image at all costs.
- Lack of clear rules and boundaries.
- Group leaders change rules frequently, which leads to confusion.
by Adele Jane
I have been a CC parent for many years. It initially blessed us because as a parent, I could say “no” to things that weren’t working for us. I was aware of the constant edicts and rule changes from Corporate because the tutors were always having to jump through ridiculous hoops. The company is notoriously anti-technology, as evidenced by their own disorganized and unreliable web site. Also, many moms felt like money was a primary motivator. They charged money for everything: expensive tuition and fees, made all their own texts mandatory and expensive, and then charged a monthly fee to look at resources created and donated by other moms!
But our local community was pleasant and close knit, so we tolerated it, like proverbial frogs in the pot, we were growing dependent on the materials. They constantly said we were the teachers, but went out of their way to make us believe we needed CC to do it, to “trust the system,” to follow the plan the way they said. We had no local say, not even what ages our kids could stop and start various levels! They made the rules.
Everything began to change for us as I stepped up to tutor and later Direct, mainly to offset the cost. The corporate overreach was insane. They literally took over my life and every aspect of my classroom. They dominated my free time with mandatory trainings and other requirements.
All questioning was labelled as sinful or rebellious, and I was made to feel that theirs is the only way. Students who cant keep up are inadequate, all the while spouting this “knowing God and making Him known” motto that does NOT play out on the corporate level. They are all about Jesus when its convenient.
Anyone who asks about these things on their forum or social media is deleted or blocked. Sometimes they use it as grounds for termination. No free speech, even on your own time.
They place multiple layers of “management” between local and corporate, puppets who have lied to us, made us sign contracts that are filled with overreach (thankfully my lawyer was clear about all the items that were so outside labor standards, that they were not only unenforceable, but likely voided the contract), and were cruel to us when we stood our ground.
They have terminated numerous directors in my area for bogus reasons not in the contract. They dictate exactly what you can say, when and how you can say it, but continue to call us independent contractors, and they run their profit-making enterprise from churches who assume they are a non-profit homeschool co-op.
I admit it wasn’t until they pressed me to do “fund raising” for a local training that I even realized they weren’t non-profit. Of course the businesses we approached laughed in our face. “Donate” money to another business just because they present themselves as homeschoolers and Christians? It was laughable I guess.
I feel this organization uses Christian families for gain, and hides behind Christ while they line their pockets. I also feel they run in a cult-like manner, slowly brainwashing families into seeing what isn’t there. My local group is great, but not really worth giving up my freedom that we homeschoolers are so blessed to have.
14 thoughts on “Classical Conversations #7: Business or a Non-Profit; Cult or a Christian Homeschool Group?”
I think this motto of “knowing Christ and making him known” is an old InterVarsity Christian Fellowship motto from at least as far back as the 1950s. It might have been “To know Christ and to make Him known”.
It’s actually from The Navigators. I’ve wondered for years how CC can get away with plagiarizing another organization’s mission statement.
The Navigators do not have that great a reputation with me. During my time at Cal Poly Pomona in the Seventies, the Navs had a reputation for the highest burnout and flunkout rates. Since then, I have heard some horror stories from a couple ex-Navs about the cult-like atmosphere within.
And then we always had some One True “Fellowship” who kept trying to out-Nav the Navs. At Cal Poly it was an independent group called “Studies in the Word of God”, apparently liked to some off-campus Fundy splinter church. Some years later, it was a franchise called “Maranatha Ministries”.
So, as a non-homeschooler, I guess I’m confused by how this is homeschooling at all. With all of these rules and beurocracy, isn’t this basically a private school at this point?
But maintaining Plausible Deniability to head off Liability.
I see a FOR-PROFIT Business that is selling homeschool curriculum and director licenses to run FOR-PROFIT businesses, which look more like one day a-week private schools according to homeschool laws in some states. They are asking some of their “licensees” (which really should be franchisees according to the way they train and control the licensed Directors) to seek non-profit status so they can continue to rent from churches in some states that have rules for churches renting to for-profits. From what I have experienced, seen, and learned, following various Facebook groups and meeting former Directors and customers, it would not be far-fetched to label this company as one that promotes a cult-like private school that meets once a week promoting Directors and Tutors that have no business leading others, despite the training they receive. They might have a great product to sell, but as one learns more about some serious abuses that have taken place (and been covered up under their watch) and the crazy amount of control they have over homeschool moms and dads, it makes you wonder how anyone can continue to spend hard earned money for their programs.
Bill Gothard also used “to know Christ
and make Him known” as the motto for
I left CC this year for all the reasons you mentioned above. I was also a part of left a spiritual abusive home church yes before I entered into CC.
When I started CC I was under the impression it was a group of Christian families who wanted to do CC in community. It took me three progressively frustrating yrs to find out I was in another “cult” like scenario and more of a private school than a homeschool community (co-op) scenario. I realized fast we were paying A LOT of money to do some thing we could easily do on our own.
I finally left this year when our director made it clear we as a group would be aligning ourselves with all of CC’s best practices. This meant tutors could not have children in any other program apart from CC. Our director held out on this until 1 month before start date when she realized only two moms fit that criteria and there would be no tutors. So for their own best interest she changes it last minute. Well me and another mom decided we were done with CC and their controlling, over-spiritualizing of policy and elitist attitudes saying I am the parent and know beat and then acting like they are the one who knows best and controls what I can and can’t do with my kids.
So we started our own group and we do practice memory work from our curriculum that we have purchased in the past. We do not charge, we are three families who do school one day a week together. The other mom with us still attends CC the day before we meet. She happens to learn the hand motions in her daughters class and was showing us the next day. Well when she went to the CC group she was confronted and told she was stealing from the CC tutor. This women went to the director to tell on her then confronted my friend and accused her of stealing because that tutor does the work and she has no right to show it or use it outside of community. My friend then proceeds to ask the tutor and apologize for using her hand motions and of course this tutor says she doesn’t care if she uses them.
But I am beside myself with anger and frustration at the complete ludicrousness of the judgement and confrontation accusing her of stealing….. I am still processing the situation and hurt that this CC group and it’s “in or out” mentality is put above friendships and love.
You’re right, JG, it does sound cult-like. And to think you had just gotten out of a spiritually abusive situation – ugh – I’m so sorry!
I’ve heard Leigh Bortins state that she doesn’t even care if families meet at home on their own and use the curriculum. That said, I think it’s inconsistent with a business model to promote that and hence the shut down.
But have you heard of Schole Sisters? And the CC Cycle app on your phone? And the Cds that have the timeline song? And the endless youtube videos of other folks using their own handmotions to go along with the material? There’s really no need in you having to be a slave to the community to teach your child using the CC curriculum which is quite excellent. You could use all those materials without beholden to or violating any perceived or actual CC legalities.
Schole Sisters worth a google if you are looking for support and community and many of them use CC material. I’m not affiliated with them at all. Just doing my research for alternatives.
After feeling God ask me to step down as director in October of 2017, I have realized all of this to be true. (We were involved for 3 1/4 years)
In some ways you can’t realize how cult-like it is until you leave- because it has all the tell-tale feelings of leaving a cult.
Yes, very similar experience.