The word classical always painted a picture of classical music in my head—Mozart, to be specific—because in high school, I was part of the choir and sang classical songs, and this was the only encounter that I had ever had with the word. When I began to question what education should look like for my young family, my husband and I attended a homeschooling conference: the East African Community of Homeschoolers (EACH) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Coincidentally, or rather God-incidentally (as God would have it), this particular conference had Greg Stockton from Classical Conversations, USA, as a guest speaker, and he spoke of the timeline song and played it for us—and we were hooked by this new approach that felt familiar.
This is what I have come to learn about the old new way: although it is new, it is also familiar because it resonates with the foundational paths that God already built into existence.
Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” I believe that by questioning education and praying about the right fit for our family, we were asking God for the good way and for rest, and He led us to the ancient paths.
He who is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9) led us to find this new old way.
How Do We Start?
Our joy in learning about homeschooling and hearing about Classical Conversations from a parent who had seen the rewards of this resource was quickly clouded by the next hurdle, which was figuring out how to start.
Now, this was in 2012. We lived in Nairobi, Kenya, and Classical Conversations, at that time, had not set up support or infrastructure in Africa. All the materials and books were only available in the U.S., and beyond the timeline song, everything else felt daunting. Latin was a strange concept; so were memory work and the grammar terminology for our four-year-old son.
And so, after Greg went back to the U.S., we thought we would forget the impact of that encounter. But like the memory of an unforgettable, delicious meal or the excitement of discovering a hidden treasure, we just could not shake off that encounter.
We found the timeline song on YouTube (it is no longer there) and would begin every morning with this song in our home. This simple start of a song was itself memory work.
That is how to start learning in the old new way. This is my encouragement to anyone who does not know where or how to start: begin with the simplicity of memory work.
I then sent several emails to Greg, who was gracious enough to respond and set up a Zoom call, walk me through the classical model, and show me how to access CC Connected. I was alone, yet not alone. This online platform was my next step in how to start.
Just like a baby learning to walk, I did not need all the answers, I just needed the next step, and this online resource center made a world of difference in my homeschool journey because I received resources, equipping, and information, and got connected with other CC families several miles away.
There’s an African proverb: If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.
If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.
This has been proven true in my homeschooling journey. As I learnt more about CC and embarked on this journey, like the woman in the parable who found the lost coin (Luke 15:8–10), I could not keep this to myself and shared it with close friends around me. They seemed to resonate with this joy, and we started meeting once a week in my home.
We had no idea what we were doing and for how long we will do it, but we did it together, and this enabled us to go far, to keep at it, to grow together, to watch our children develop public speaking skills, learn the phases of the moon, identify classical music in cartoons, point out art by Rembrandt or Monet, point out when the moon is gibbous, and classify plants and clouds.
This growing community gave us the courage to finish our first cycle of twenty-four weeks. We weren’t perfect. We missed several details and forgot a lot of the structure, but because we were together, we became family. We held each other accountable and grew in courage to try another cycle.
Looking back at the unplanned journey, I can say that it is indeed true that God has a plan for our good and prosperity.
This small community that commenced with me and my four-year-old son has now multiplied into three communities across the country, with over fifty children and twenty families learning classically. We used the tools of learning and applied the concept as lead learners to create an African and Kenyan timeline, history sentences, and geographic locations, which were published on CC Connected with the amazing support of CC and our SR and AR.
We have graduated our first CC high school graduates who have been accepted into universities here in Kenya, and this is a big feat not just for CC but for all homeschoolers in Kenya. The ancient path, with a solid foundation, based on the truth of God’s word, plus the journey with like-hearted families, fueled by the encouragement of a great support system, prayers, and the Holy Spirit, has enabled us—who would have felt far removed, unqualified, and unreachable, all the way in Nairobi, Kenya—to finish strong.
Only by His Grace.