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.