Classical Conversations (CC) is designed to be a community, helping connect Christian home school families who want to educate their children using the classical model. As such, they describe themselves as:
A Mission to know God and to make Him known
In every subject, God has hidden His truth and beauty. It is our pleasure as students and teachers to discover Him as we learn. Our studies should also prepare us to reason clearly, speak eloquently, and write convincingly so that we have the ability to make God known to others.
A Model to combine a biblical worldview and classical tools
The creators and members of CC believe that each child is uniquely and wonderfully made, and the people who know and love a child best (the parents) are the ones most motivated to help that child succeed. Within the framework of a biblical worldview, CC teaches parents the classical model: the tools for learning any subject. (Learn more here)
A Method to equip parents and encourage students
How can I give my children a better education than I received?
CC connects families with others who home school using the classical model. They become companions who can share the journey. CC also connects families with experienced and trained mentors who offer leadership. Students enjoy the community of friends who are on the same journey, too. They encourage one another in their studies.
Local Communities: Parents and students meet once a week throughout the school year. Each community consists of programs that are facilitated by a trained parent-director. Seminars are led by trained parent-tutors who model the classical tools of learning. Classical Conversations has developed three programs: Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge.
Foundations is a grammar-stage morning program for students K4 through sixth grade who attend with their parents. In these dynamic classes, the tutors model the grammar-stage tools of learning: loading the facts from a variety of interesting subjects. In addition, students get to practice public speaking, do a science project, and an art or music project each week.
Essentials is a dialectic-stage program for students in approximately grades four through six. Essentials classes meet from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. after Foundations and a lunch break. Tutors model the grammar and dialectic tools of learning in English grammar, writing, and math skills. Students develop the mental skills to sort and classify facts and learn the tools they need to become eloquent, effective writers.
Challenge A & B are dialctic-stage programs for seventh and eighth graders. Students become more independent and classes become more challenging. Group discussions begin to play a larger role as students learn logic and debate.
Challenge I, II, III, and IV are rhetoric-stage programs which correspond to grades nine through twelve. Students will draw upon all their grammar and dialectic skills as they not only discuss, but also learn to lead the discussions. In these classes, students can fully express themselves in the creative, meaningful, and practical application of subjects. Community is most important for this level of learning.
Equiping Events: CC offers Parent Practicums to equip parents with the tools they need to become effective classical Christian educators in their own homes. During these one- to three-day seminars, parents study particular subjects and the classical method in more depth. Many practicums are free of charge for parents.
Having been long-time fans of classical education, we think it's great that something like CC has been created. Having a plan and help from others makes classical education much more do-able, and it's wonderful to have encouragement from like-minded families. We might quibble with a little bit of the material they use (the Latin, for instance), but don't have any significant issues with any of their content. If you compare it to Sonlight Curriculum or the Veritas Omnibus, CC is pretty content-lite, but CC's community nature (chances for public speaking, for instance) will usually weigh heavily in its favor.
CC is fairly new to the West Coast, and is somewhat in-flux, still developing and revising their own guides and recommended materials list (probably a never-ending project) . We have yet to sit down and review any of the guides, Words Aptly Spoken materials, or flashcards, but we are impressed by the nature and reputation of the program. The price is a little prohibitive, but is less expensive than many alternatives, so we believe it's definitely worth checking into. (Plus, most of the people getting involved are really cool!)