Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons Why Our Family Loves Classical Conversations

  I have been wanting to write this for a long time. The problem has been that there is just too much to say! But after back to back Practicums and Tutor Trainings, I had CC on the brain! Our community meets once a week, for 24 weeks, and we split up into groups according to age. The rest of the week the studies are done at home. So here you go :)  (Warning: there are an excessive amount of exclamation points in this blog post. But I am just excited, what can I say?)

1. Classical Conversations is God centered and Bible focused.

 Unlike having "Bible" as a subject, with Classical conversations, Bible is infused in all of the subjects. Memorizing the days of creation is a part of science. The Ten Commandments are memorized for History.The timeline of 161 events includes the historical accounts from the Bible. And to memorize a whole chapter of the Bible is par for the course. And that is just for the Foundations program. (ages 4-11)

2. CC provides much needed community and accountability.

As I have discussed before here, we all need accountability, but I really need it! And CC really provides it! My kids want to know their memory work so that when they play review games at CC, they can do well. They want to prepare their presentations because they like to share with their peers. And this holds me accountable to help them accomplish their learning goals. CC is  about working together, building relationships, and caring for each other.The truth is that I have never been part of a more eclectic group of moms and dads, each one with different strengths from which I can learn, if I choose. And whether it is hard times or blessed times, I have seen these families surround each other in a way that "They will know we are Christians by our love for one another." I am eternally thankful for all I have learned from each of these specials families.

3. Your family can actually study together.

We ran into a neighbor who asked my kids that question. You know the one.
"What are you guys learning about?"
 "Oh, never mind" he continued, "I know you are all learning different things."
To which I was able to say "No, actually, we are all studying the same information....Charlie (5 year old) tell Mr. Neighbor what are the 7 biomes of the earth.... Great! Lizzie, (11 year old) tell him about World World 2........." To which they answer, and are able to help each other if one forgets. We study in the car together, quiz each other, play CC Trivial Pursuit, or Jeopardy, and the 5 year old gets real genuine confidence because of all that he is learning right along side his 11 year old sister! Hooray! No need for trophies or yearly graduation ceremonies. They are truly accomplishing a great task and becoming intrinsically motivated because......

4.They can do it! 

 They don't memorize the info for a test. They are working to remember it for the whole year, or better yet, for life! Yes, when they study that "In World War 2 Great Britain, France and Russia, were allies, and fought Austria, Hungary, and Germany which were called the Central Powers" during week 12, they are expected to know it still at the end of the year. All these facts here:
The questions:
 The answers:

 But how???

5. CC makes it fun! 

That's how :) I had a friend check out Classical Conversations before I did, and she said it was boring. They just memorized facts, she said. But now I know better. They don't just memorize facts. They do "Mathercise" while they skip count perfect squares. (1,4,9,16,25....224) They do hand motions and sing while they recount the facts of the Cold War. They listen and chant along while a puppet lists the conjugations of Latin verbs. And it works beautifully. To prove my point I will ask you one question.

When did Columbus sail the ocean blue?


We all know this one memory fact because it rhymed! So why, oh why, did the powers that be stop there? Why didn't we institute this mnemonic device over and over again? Who knows! I just know that CC does. We have songs for just about every fact we study. In fact, just yesterday, my 11 year old was singing about what happened to George Washington in 1789 in NY, a fact she memorized 3 years ago. Dates in history people! Who in the world can remember dates? We can! That's who :)

6. The learning stages work with our developmental stages.

Ok, here is brief overview. Stay with me.

Three stages of learning:
Grammar Stage (ages 4-11), Dialectic Stage (12-13), Rhetoric Stage (14+)

The Grammar Stage (4-11) This is where we learn the basics. Parents marvel at the fact that their small children can remember the craziest things. Spoiler alert: your child's recall ability is not unique! (Sorry, it's true) God designed our brains to absorb crazy amounts of information when we are young. (Side note: this is also why it is so valuable for them to be around you most of the time when they are small) So what better time to memorize, memorize, memorize!! At CC we drill hundreds of memory facts in Science, Latin, History, English, Geography,Math and Timeline with the 4-11 year old children, and they have the capacity to remember them! All!! But we don't just memorize facts. We have weekly presentations where the children get up in front of their peers. From show and tell to biographies on presidents, these presentations prepare them to spread the gospel! No more fear of public speaking. You should see these kids after weeks and even years of practice. It would blow you away! We also have science projects and fine arts instruction. And yes, we do a lot of memory work. We are hammering those pegs in the brain, so we can reference them later and have intelligent discussions.

 Let me give you an example.
Since I love math, let's stick with that.
In the grammar stage the students memorize all kinds of geometric formulas, like the area of a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, etc. They memorize all the perfect squares, skip count the 2's up to the 15's!! And even memorize math properties like the distributive, associative, commutative, and identity properties. Why? Because you need that when you go into the..........

The Dialectic Stage: (12-13) This is the "how and why" stage. This is where we start applying, using and talking about the grammar "pegs" that we hammered in because our brain is finally ready! When I taught High School Math, I was often frustrated that the majority of the students I dealt with did not have those "pegs" in their brains that could enable them to be successful.
You have to know the area of a circle if you are going to find the volume of a cylinder. You have to know the perfect squares if you are going to simplify a radical. You have to know the math properties if you are going to work through proofs. And that was always the problem I had while teaching. The children thought they didn't understand math, but the truth was they just didn't have those fundamental pegs, those tools that they needed to make their dialectic years go more smoothly.
The other problem I noticed while teaching in the public school, was that when I taught that one, tiny section on logic in geometry, the highschoolers would regularly moan and complain during these 3 days or so to which I would throw my hands up and exclaim, "Seriously?? Teenagers don't need one tiny section on logic...They need a whole class on logic!!" And guess what the CC students study during this stage? You guessed it! Logic! A whole class on it! I only wish that this was the case everywhere. Sadly we are living in a day where we are reaping the result of millions of people that never studied logic. They have no idea how to take a statement out to its logical conclusion. But that is the topic for another post!

The Rhetoric Stage: (14+) This is where they focus on expressing and explaining beautifully all that they have learned and debated. They are taught how to express themselves. It is an art. Teenagers are longing to express themselves, but so many just have not been taught how.

7. You are learning right along with your children.

I really just love this part! You see, I don't even remember geography class! But now, I am memorizing the globe right along with my children, even more so now that I am a tutor and have become so much more involved in the material.  All home school moms will attest to the fact that teaching your children enriches your own education in such a meaningful way. But the difference with CC is that the rigorous memory work for the early stages, if you engage and work with your children, sticks with you too! I am singing about the Continental Congress, or Margaret Thatcher. I can rap out the definition of an infinitive or dance to Newton's Third law. I am not even kidding people. It is amazing. Go ahead, ask me where Timbuktu is. I am for real. And I just love it!

8. This program is so important for such a time as this!

The world we are living in is totally against this Classical Christian method. They are destroying classical education at every stage.

Destroying the Grammar Stage- instead learning the definitions that have been in place since the beginning of time, they are RE-defining our terms. Or even UN-defining them. Choice. Tolerance. Christian. These are just a few words that do not mean what they used to mean.

Destroying the Dialectic Stage- These days there is very little logic involved in decision making. There is no conversation. Believe what we say or you are an intolerant, flat earther. The end. There is no room for civil debate.

Destroying the Rhetoric Stage- There is no room for researching and expressing well your views or discussing topics. You will be fired. You will lose your business. You will receive death threats if you do not agree.

9. CC enables us to have a vision of lifelong learning for our family.

Our children are learning how to memorize. They are learning how to discover. They are learning how to learn! This is not about passing a test. This is about living life to the fullest. This is about studying together, and learning together and staying together so that we can............


This is the actual mission statement for Classical Conversations, and also for our lives. It is beautiful and it is everything.

No program is perfect or without flaws. With community comes the chance for conflict. With a lot of memory work comes the need to work hard and sometimes sacrifice. But without a doubt, we are so thankful for the last four years in this program and all that God has done in our family through it, and we look forward to the years to come.

Psalms 27:4
4One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

What are your favorite things about CC? Let us know in the comments :)


  1. Thank you for this thorough summary of CC. We love it for all these reasons and more!

    1. Thanks Robyn! And you know I barely scratched the surface! ;) Miss you!

  2. If anyone would like to know more about joining Classical Conversations, there will be an Info. Meeting next Fri., June 13th. For exact time & location, please RSVP
    (Miss you too, Lauren!)