Friday, April 27, 2012

Angst

I was going to write about our summer curriculum today, but I feel the need to get back to why I started this blog. I'm part of a local Catholic homeschool yahoo group; even though I haven't met many of the women on the boards, I get the posts in digest form in my email every day.  Even though I personally know at least seven Catholic families in our area who participate in Classical Conversations, the moderators of the board are convinced that the organization is somehow anti-Catholic and will not allow us to post announcements about CC or attend the local Catholic homeschool conference as a vendor.  (Seriously - we offered to pay for a table this year so we could present our materials to the Catholic community, and they flat out refused us saying they only permit Catholic or secular vendors.)

This is incredibly frustrating to me, as I love the Roman Catholic Church and I also love CC.  I completely understand wanting to support Catholic companies such as Classically Catholic and Catholic Schoolhouse, but the truth is that CC is a wonderful organization.  I have heard that, in some parts of the country, Catholic families have been made to feel unwelcome in CC communities, but that is not a mandate from CC corporate; Leigh Bortins herself states that she welcomes all orthodox Christians, including Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox. 

Classical Conversations does not teach religion. The company's motto is "To know God and make Him known," and that Christian spirit is evident in the communities - but there is no doctrinal teaching in the curriculum.  Instead, the focus is on teaching children using the classical method by focusing on history, geography, math, science, English grammar, and Latin.  There is Bible memorization - for Cycle 3, we memorized John 1:1-7 in English and Latin, and for Cycle 1, we will memorize Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments) - but there is no discussion of theology.  Even in the Challenge program, students are told that their parents are the spiritual head of the home and doctrinal questions should be discussed with them rather than decided by the tutor. 

And yes, I know there is a timeline card that references the Reformation.  You know what?  That's something that really happened, and we need to discuss it with our children.  Maybe I have a different perspective on it because I was not born into a Catholic family - I began considering the Catholic faith when I was in college, and finally completed the RCIA process just five years ago when I was pregnant with Sophie - but I don't see a problem with discussing controversial topics with my children.  I can answer any questions they have with confidence and teach them how to answer their friends who may challenge them in a respectful and educated manner. 

I suppose it comes down to this: I do not plan to raise my children in a Catholic bubble.  That is not why I chose to homeschool.  I feel called to homeschool because I truly believe I can provide my children with a significantly better education at home than they would get in a public school setting, and I also appreciate that they are being spared the relentless peer pressure that abounds even in private school settings.  I want my children to know there are other world views out there, and still understand the sacredness of our Catholic traditions.

I chose Classical Conversations after much research, and I stand by that decision.  I chose to become a director of a CC community rather than starting up a Catholic Schoolhouse community or creating a Classically Catholic co-op because I have seen CC in action and I love it.  I do not believe that I am somehow violating my Catholic conscience by participating in CC.

I just wish I could make the leaders of the Yahoo group understand that.  Let Catholic families make the choice for themselves; talk to those of us in the local community who participate in CC, and don't just mandate that it's anti-Catholic and therefore should not be afforded the same privileges that Catholic and secular homeschool vendors receive. 

26 comments:

  1. I have never heard of this...but I think can understand the concern...like the pro-abortion Catholics for choice? Hope everything works out for you! good luck.

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    1. This is way out of left field. What does CC have to do with pro-abortion people? CC is not anti-Catholic. Abortion is.

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  2. Great post! I did not realize this issue until just this year! But for the same reasons, there are Catholic families and tutors in our community, and I think it's great to have such a smorgasbord of Christians! (Let us all set our extra doctrines aside! It's what I love about CC! A Classical CHRISTIAN Community!)

    You know, I just now figured out that you have a blog! LOL! Thank you so much for all your comments on mine. I may not respond to all of them, but I am so glad to have such a faithful follower who always tries to encourage me from the other side!

    With Blessings!
    Brandy from Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

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  3. Great post! I just found your blog as I am a Catholic 1st year director with CC in Wisconsin. It is VERY hard to get families enrolled here in Wisconsin and CC is still very new up here. Maybe 3-4 years old? Anyway, I am looking forward to following your blog! I find the anti-Catholic view of CC as well and even had a person (who you would probably know of but I won't say it here) tell me that CC was not Classical Education at all. This is a VERY pro Catholic Classical Educator who told me that. So excited to have found another Catholic Director! Yeah!

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  4. Just to clarify: the offensive timeline card in question was the Council of Trent card. It is blatantly anti-Catholic, offering the publisher's (negative) opinion on the Catholic faith instead of just sticking to the historical facts. However, this was in the Veritas Press version of the timeline cards. I have not seen the new CC version of the timeline cards, but I've heard that they take a more neutral stance.

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  5. As a Catholic mom and Foundations tutor, I too worry about any anti-Catholic stance ANY curriculum may have. However, as an educator who embraces dialog between differing points of view, I try to teach my own children never to run from a learning opportunity. I was a little taken aback by the new CC Acts and Facts Timeline cards only because they chose to take out the words Saint in several cards (St. Jerome, St. Benedict, for example). So, our family will just choose to say "saint" in front of those historical figures while reciting "our" timeline facts. If someone says something, I will respectfully tell them that our Catholic faith tradition recognizes these wonderful people as saints and we will continue to follow our tradition of acknowledging them as such. Another concern some Catholics have with Cycle 1 is the wording order of the Ten Commandments. However, this history sentence is used to help our children remember the facts. If we really want them to memorize God's word, I say, "go to the source," in this case our Holy Bible's Exodus 20:2-17.

    I am not offended by any anti-Catholic stance CC may appear to have to some folks. Our community is very inclusive and respectful to all Christian denominations. In the three years we have been using CC, I have never seen any anti-Catholic rhetoric used on the forums or in the Foundations curriculum. The fact that the timeline cards are written from a Protestant point-of-view is just a nice way to open dialog and instruct my children on the differences between Protestant and Catholic viewpoints.

    To me, it is ok to disagree. I will continue to have my children use the CC material as long as I know in my heart that my teaching of our faith can explain to them any disagreeing viewpoints that may pop up. I do not feel threatened by CC's statement of faith or their curriculum.

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  6. I am so thankful to find this blog. I have some Protestant friends with older children who have went through CC and I loved what I saw, but when I talked this year of considering it for my oldest, a Kindergartener, Catholics would tell me how it was and anti-Catholic program and I shouldn't. So I didn't, but yet I still have been thinking about CC off and on and checking out their website. I was told of Catholic Schoolhouse and Classically Catholic, but I would have to drive over an hour to get to the nearest of those. Your blog post on this and the viewpoint of those who commented has helped me decide that next year I will put my children in CC. Thank you!

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  7. Glad I found this...even if almost a year later! I am starting the 4th quarter of my first year homeschooling and am using Catholic Heritage Curricula. It is not a bad program, but it is just not the one for us. So I am looking for new ideas for next year. I met with some CC folks in my area this week and liked what I saw. But am always concerned about the possibility of little anti-Catholic snippets coming through. Good to hear from some that use CC AND love it. Dumb question, but how do I sign up to follow your blog?

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  8. The FULLNESS of TRUTH exists within the Catholic Church. Why go anywhere else>??? Do we see Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, etc, etc, venturing out of their beliefs??? No. Only Catholics are dumb enough to do that.

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    1. Um, Catholics who use CC do not leave the Catholic Church or it's FULLNESS of TRUTH.
      Educational decisions are complex. CC is a fantastic academic co-op close enough to my home. My kids and I are witnesses among Christians who may be uneasy around Catholics. I am pleased God is using us to build a bridge without challenges to our faith.

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  9. I have a question for Catholic directors. I am thinking and praying through converting to Catholicism. I want to know how Catholic directors are able to sign the Statement of Faith that directors are required to sign. I don't have a problem with any of the bullet points, but here's the part I struggle with:
    :All Scripture is self‐attesting and being
    Truth, requires our unreserved submission
    in all areas of life. The infallible Word
    of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and
    New Testaments, is a complete and unified
    witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating
    in the incarnation of the Living Word,
    the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely
    and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the
    supreme and final authority on all matters
    on which it speaks. "
    The Catholic Bible has more than 66 books, and, from my understanding, Catholics believe the "Supreme and Final Authority" is the Church (both Scripture and the Magesterium.
    Please advise as I would hate to have to quit directing. Thanks!

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    1. There was a statement at the end saying that you may believe something similar. I took the 'spirit' of the statement in a positive way because I knew that they were not intending to cut off Catholics.

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  10. I would really late like to hear a Catholic's response to this latest post by Kati.

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  11. I posted earlier this year and chose not to do CC because life took a scary turn for us in the spring with a huge health scare for me. Anyway, I too would like to hear the response to Kati's post from a Catholic DIRECTOR. As a "just" a Catholic who has considered CC, here is my two cents: I personally, would not be a director because I would not want to sign that, for I agree with Kati's summary that there are more than 66 books of the Bible AND we believe in Scripture and Tradition. And in response to Pro-LifeMommy's comment, I have to speak up and say I think that is really a sad generalization. I know of many non-Catholic who venture out of their churches, synagogues, mosques, and homes to learn about Catholicism so to say that Catholics are the only ones dumb enough to do such a thing is false. Also, for any Catholic who has experienced judgement and arguments as to our faith from outsiders, I would say knowing what the world thinks of us, is highly important in order to know how to argue against it. Listen to Catholic Answers Live sometime...those amazing apologists KNOW many of the arguments before hand in order to fine tune their own knowledge of our faith. Finally, let's remember, we are talking about homeschool curriculum, NOT attending other church's services regularly--a HUGE difference in my opinion.

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  12. Here's some discussion on the well-trained mind forums:
    http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/176192-any-catholic-cc-tutors/

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  13. CC Jen, Are you still a Director? The Catholic Tutors/Directors in our community are starting to be questioned/persecuted. CC used to say, "this is our statement of faith and you do not have to have it for your own." Now they seem to want the Tutors/Directors to "believe it too." What is going on?

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    1. This is sad. I do think someone has to go to Leigh Bortins and let her decide if CC should be anti-Catholic or not. If not, it's easy to touch up that section of the statement. I don't think the protestants would quit if the statement didn't list the number of books of the Bible.

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    2. I just read much of the Well Trained Mind forum on this. I am reminded that the statement says that the tutor or director SUPPORTS this statement. I recognize it and support it as a protestant statement, and I so support protestants as Christians. I also am very ecumenical and do pray weekly with other Catholics and protestants after Mass. Also, I may not say this as intelligently as a priest would, but in fact it is very Catholic and not normally protestant to recognize good things coming from people who are not even Christian. I was on a diet which comes from some Eastern philosophies. A priest told me that it is very Catholic to recognize the good of all people created by God, while also recognizing their errors.

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  14. I want to throw my hat in the ring on this one. I'm struggling with CC right now. I wanted to apply to be a Support Manager in my area, but the Statement of Faith (and CC's unbending policy on it) is a sticking point. The evangelical women with whom I spoke about the position were both adamant that unless I was able to love and embrace the S/F fully, I could not take a position of leadership in CC. This is frustrating -- why can't I proclaim that I embrace the Nicene Creed, the "Statement of Faith" for over 1600 years, and call it good? Why can't CC adopt the S/F written by Catholics and Evangelicals together in the 90s?

    I really love my CC community and hold it dear, but a year in, I'm questioning the wisdom of my remaining in the community. I like that my kids are getting a taste of interaction with kids of myriad denominations, and the feel in my community is pretty ecumenical. That said, the lady who interviewed me for the SM position told me that the ecumenical movement is "not good" and that she could not shrug off the differences between Catholics and Protestants when so many died during the Reformation when they tried to stand up to the Church leaders of the day. Whoa -- am I responsible for these deaths? And what does that have to do with promoting Classical ed with a Christian worldview? This is especially disconcerting when CC makes a point NOT to teach religion.

    I am asking myself now, do I want to be in an organization that will take me tuition check but reject me for positions of leadership because I am Catholic? Right now, I don't know the answer. I wish I could call Leigh B herself and ask her for clarification on the point. Seems such a minor one, to boot. How does my 73 book Bible and my holding fast to capital T Tradition have anything to do with promoting the mission and vision of CC?

    I should probably go and check out the WTM forum to read the discussion there.

    Can't we all just get along? :)

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  15. It looks like we will need to leave CC which we have been a part of for 6 years. Catholic tutors and Directors are "inadvertently" being dismissed from continuing in those positions. (long re-interviews, not given a contract even tho all the other tutors and Directors have) I am curious if Leigh Bortins supports this or if it's local? After all, Fr Henle, Andrew Pudewa and Andrew Kern are educators in Classical Conversations - but not Catholic homeschool Moms? I am not sure if there is any Academic Program which is superior to the basic Christian acts of loving our neighbors. Such a pity.

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  16. I was in a CC community last year, and I was allowed to substitute but not tutor as I could not sign the statement of faith. I told my director that I could agree not to tutor outside of the statement, and she was fine with that, but her supervisor was not. I had to sign stating that this was my belief. There was no way for me to sign it - and I consulted my pastor - without being dishonest. I felt it was disingenuous of the CC community as a whole to allow me to substitute, but not to tutor full time. I really felt that I was a "second class" citizen at CC. As the year progressed, some of the moms were pretty vocal about their anti-Catholic beliefs, not realizing that I was Catholic. While my director was great, the other tutors were fantastic (and upset that I couldn't tutor), and my kids made some great friends, we won't be returning to CC. We are using Mother of Divine Grace along with CCM from here on out...

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  17. I have been wanting to call Leigh as well to see why their Statement is so poorly worded even for Protestants. When it talks about Sacraments, how many? Which ones? Some denominations have none, some have 2 some have more. Do you think it would do any good to get as many Catholic families as possible to sign a letter about this? Or do you think she corporately welcomes us only as participants, not as tutors or directors? I would also like to see them just have the Nicene Creed to sign, unless they are purposfully trying to keep Catholics out of the higher leadership roles. I was not able to teach Essentials this year because I would not sign the S/F. We have a new director this year who was not with us last year when we were lining up tutors and she wanted me to teach Essentials next year. When I explained my predicament and went over the 2 issues I disagreed with (66 books, Sola Scriptora), she had no problem with that, so I'm able to teach without signing the statement (I might initial it to say I've read it and then attach the Nicene Creed with my signature.) I'd also like to know if anyone has a student in Challenge A and what you thought of the book "It Couldn't Just Happen" which refutes evolution. I don't believe in evolution, but I also don't believe in a Young Earth. Just wondering if this book is for everyone who believes in Creation, whether God took a million years or 7 days.

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  19. As an Eastern Orthodox family considering CC, I really appreciate this thread, even across the years. :)

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  20. Also concerned about "It Couldn't Just Happen".....does anyone have any feedback on whether this text is anti-Catholic?

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  21. I am part of a CC community and was interested in tutoring next year. I was told by the director that she cannot hire me unless I'm willing to sign the statement of faith, exactly as it's written, with no amendments or additions. Do you know if this a requirement in every community? I've heard that other Catholics either did not have to sign the statement at all, or were allowed to write something on the statement saying that their beliefs are mostly, but not 100% in agreement. I mentioned this to my director and she said all communities should be following the same guidelines and such changes should not be acceptable. Can you provide any additional info or guidance for me?

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