After experiencing a pandemic and not having the choice to meet with others face-to-face, I have grown to appreciate the value of community. While attending Practicum just a few weeks ago, Foundations and Essentials Director, Risha Miller, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, shared, “Community is the thing I never knew I needed until I had it. Now I cannot do without it.”
I Didn’t Know I Needed a Community
If you have followed the story of the Classical Conversations founder, Leigh Bortins, you will discover like me that Leigh needed others to practice the classical tools of the Trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
Could Leigh have just followed the curriculum she developed without inviting others to join her? Sure. However, she soon discovered that the curriculum without the community was like practicing rhetoric in a vacuum.
Huh? “Practicing rhetoric in a vacuum” didn’t make any sense to me while homeschooling my children who were ages 10 and under. I wasn’t classically educated. Were you? Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how to even define the word classical that preceded the word education. Isn’t education, just education?
Save Money, Stay Home
But in my stubborn mindset, I believed I could homeschool on my own. I started out the first year following a somewhat scattered, piecemeal curriculum. I soon discovered I lacked understanding and accountability, and to be completely transparent, I was lonely. I was surrounded by my family but I needed others to band arm and arm with me. I thought I needed community for my children, but more so I needed community for me.
So, knowing what I learned over the years, why would I title this blog post “Can You Do Classical Conversations Without Community?” It’s a question that was asked of me often while serving in Classical Conversations leadership. Parents would wonder why they couldn’t just purchase the Foundations Curriculum and supplementary products to use at home.
They were always surprised by my answer, “You can!”* Their next question was always, “Then why would I pay to be part of a community to do something that I could do at home and save money?”
Financial obstacles weren’t unfamiliar to me. I stepped away from my full-time career to homeschool and our household income was reduced by 40%. How could I validate spending money on something that wasn’t a necessity? Empathetically, I could relate to the questions that were being tossed at me. I wanted the Classical Conversations community to help me learn how to educate my children classically, but I couldn’t justify spending the money we didn’t have. That setback was a setup. The opportunity to earn income through tutoring in my local community gave our family the means to not only participate but for me to be steeped in the classical model.
The Value of Community
My response to those parents’ questions on the value of community is:
- Community provides practice with the tools of learning.
- Community provides resources for parents where you can draw upon the wisdom and experiences of others.
- Community provides opportunities for growth in virtue for our children.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
Morgan Taylor, Director and parent, shares a similar perspective in her post “What Makes a Classical Conversations Community Stand Out?” It all boils down to relationships and connections. God created us for community—communing with Him and communing with others.
Reasons to Homeschool Using Classical Conversations Without a Community
It’s certainly possible to homeschool using the Classical Conversations curriculum without a community. There are extenuating circumstances that might prevent you from being part of a one.
You could have been called to live a nomadic lifestyle like Yvette Hampton, the producer and host of the 2021 documentary Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution. Her family traveled around the country in an RV for two years interviewing education experts and homeschool families. While on this journey from state to state, she homeschooled her two daughters.
Being a military family always brings the challenging obstacle of moving locations. You may even have to move across the world! The good news is that Classical Conversations communities are designed to follow the same cycle and schedule wherever you go. Licensed Directors will work together to help your family transition to a different community, even if you are joining midyear. Check out our Community Search to locate communities through the United States and CC International Online to search communities worldwide.
Heaven forbid that you or someone in your family has health concerns that would prevent you from participating in community. However, as we have recently witnessed with a pandemic, this could impact your choices of homeschooling with Classical Conversations in a community. If this is the case for you or someone in your family, I pray that The Great Physician would restore the health of those afflicted as you continue to homeschool classically in your home.
Should You Use Classical Conversations Without a Community?
I am certain there are more reasons than the ones listed above, but my goal was to answer the question, can you do Classical Conversations without community? Yes, you can, but I hope that I have persuaded you that it’s far better to homeschool with community.
In Ecclesiastes 4:12, it states, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Well, I have found way more than three cords! I found a tribe of like-minded families to band arm and arm with me and my children to practice the classical model, to draw wisdom and experience from, and to grow in virtue. Will you find your own community or go at it alone?
*Essentials and Challenge provide proprietary curriculum and guides only available in a Classical Conversations licensed community. If you are interested in the Essentials or Challenge programs, you can get connected with a community here, and a local leader will help you get started!
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.