May 24, 2013

Inside Parent Practicum 2013

Every summer, Classical Conversations holds free Parent Practicums across the country to encourage and equip parents in using the classical Christian model in their home.

From their website:

Come with us as we Return to Roots and Reason. Join veteran homeschooling parents for three days of encouragement and inspiration as we seek to understand the classical model of education and learn how to apply it in Christian homeschooling. This year we will be digging deeper into the beauty and reason that can only be understood through mathematics. Morning speakers will present practical tools for giving your children a classical, Christian education at home. See the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages of learning in action as we rediscover roots and reason through mathematics.

This was my first Practicum, and all I can say is - WOW!

Math was the focus topic this year (last year was Latin). So, in addition to learning general classical, Christian education how-to, we played with numbers and learned how to approach math Biblically - because it is not neutral.

Colossians 1:16b says that all things were created by God. Yes, math was created by God, and because our Lord chose to create math, we should look to discover Him in math. He's all over it, friends!

I don't want to say too much about the Practicum; I know many of you are planning to attend one this summer, and I don't want to spoil the fun for you. But, I will share some pictures of our event in Harvest, Alabama earlier this week:

Above, Kelli Van Pelt, a CC Director from Destin, Florida, was our fabulous Practicum speaker. She was so approachable and friendly, and she really knew her stuff!

Her friend, Tammi (also a director), helped with mapping out the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages of various seminars (I learned we don't say subjects, but we use seminars instead. Subject sounds too compartmentalized, and classical educators believe all subjects are interrelated since all were created by the same awesome God.).

We broke up into small groups each day to play around with numbers.

A quick glimpse inside CC tutor training! After lunch, tutors and directors broke away for their separate training. Everyone else stayed in the sanctuary for a deeper discussion of the Classical Conversations program model. 

And here's a birds-eye view of the bookstore set up in the church lobby. This picture really doesn't do Sandra, our fantastic CC bookseller, justice. She had so many great resources on display! Oh, yes, I got to know Sandra. ;) Here's where I bought my Saxon 1 Math the first day.

Quick note on that:

So, the week before Practicum, I placed all my orders for Mary's kindergarten materials, including Math-U-See (MUS) Primer and Alpha. I have lots of friends who use and love MUS, so that's the way we went. I knew that MUS had just rewritten their curriculum to align with Common Core, which I abhor, but I thought there really wasn't any way around this beast. 

Then, I go to Practicum. On our first day, Kelli (our speaker) and Leigh Bortins (via a taped message) talk about the Saxon Math program and why CC endorses that particular curriculum:

the lessons are classically taught with an abundance of repetition for mastery,
goes from K-12 (not all math programs do),
click here to see other reasons why CC endorses Saxon,
and - here's the selling point for me -
although Saxon has aligned itself with Common Core, it's keeping one edition 'pure' for Classical Conversations families (3rd edition)!

Yes, that did it! 

Don't know how Common Core affects math? Well, take a look at some math work from a Common Core-aligned book:

Click on these to enlarge, and then prepare to be dumb-struck by the sheer insanity of this logic. Really, click on it and check it out. I'll wait here. . . 

I'm really at a loss for words here, friends. These images are from the wonderful watchdog site Truth in American Education. Click here to see what they have to say about this mess. And here's one more for you:

Who can learn this way?! 

Conservative commentator and mom Michelle Malkin has a great blog series explaining exactly what Common Core is and what it's going to do to our nation. Something interesting she points out:

Stanford University professor James Milgram, the only mathematician on the validation panel, concluded that the Common Core math scheme would place American students two years behind their peers in other high-achieving countries. In protest, Milgram refused to sign off on the standards.

She breaks it down:

Under Common Core, as the American Principles Project and Pioneer Institute point out, algebra I instruction is pushed to 9th grade, instead of 8th grade, as commonly taught. Division is postponed from 5th to 6th grade. Prime factorization, common denominators, conversions of fractions and decimals, and algebraic manipulation are de-emphasized or eschewed. Traditional Euclidean geometry is replaced with an experimental approach that had not been previously pilot-tested in the U.S.

Click here to read her excellent posts on Common Core.

So, when I heard that Saxon was saving its 3rd edition from alignment, I knew that's what we should use. If you're thinking of switching to Saxon, I encourage you to purchase from the CC website or at a Practicum (20% discount on Saxon through August 31). We want to encourage Saxon to keep the 3rd edition for us, and, as we all know, money talks. 

Sorry for taking you down that rabbit trail, wow! Where were we?

Oh, yes, the Practicum! It was just awesome, and I learned so much and met so many great CC mamas!

About math not being neutral, our speaker recommended visiting Christian Perspectives, a wonderful resource for learning to teach math Biblically. I purchased the audio download and the e-book Beyond Numbers by Katherine Loop. The book is outstanding

Here's a little excerpt:

His consistency in keeping one plus one equaling two serves as a continual testimony to us of His loyalty, faithfulness, and loving kindness. Just think, every time you use math to count or add something, you witness the fact that God is still consistently sustaining the universe. It is as though math were shouting out to you, "God is still in charge! He is faithful. He will keep His covenant of redemption with you." (Beyond Numbers, p. 5)

One more:

If math is independent from God, then all the incredible order and consistency in math points us, not to the Creator, but to math and human intellect. This view of math is not just unbiblical; it is actually naturalistic and humanistic. It teaches us to trust the creation (math and human intellect) instead of the Creator. My "neutral" view of math was really a very worldly view, steeped in unbiblical thinking. (p. 19)

Isn't that awesome! Ooooh, I could go on and on, but I really don't want to ruin the fun for those who have yet to attend their Practicum. So, if you can, go, go, go to one of the free Parent Practicums. They are so worth it! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on math! Have you thought about using it as a way to discover God and His attributes? I never have, so this experience has been so exciting! I'm really getting into math now, so I just may do a separate post about that in the future. Stay tuned!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Melody!
    I am starting CC this year with my 4 year old daughter and I have been following your blog this last school year. I was encouraged to attend our local practicum and it was FANTASTIC. What was even more encouraging was the fact that my husband attended the conference with me all three days!! He was blown away at where our precious children will be in a few years when they enter Challenge. He couldn't wait to bring our Foundations guide home to start exploring. We bought the CD's and he was singing week 1's history sentence this morning to our daughter. So cute!

    We learned so much these last three days and I even overcame some of my fears over math as we walked through the various problems.

    Did your group see the nautilus shell video??

    1. What a great husband you have there, Cheryl! He sounds very supportive, which, as I'm sure you already know, is quite a blessing! Sounds like your Practicum was amazing, too! I don't remember a shell video, but we did watch a sunflower one - Nature By Numbers was the title, I think. Thanks for sharing your Practicum experience, Cheryl! :)

  3. Hi Melody - Thank you for the info, I absolutely agree! However, I was going to purchase the 2009 version of Math U See, available on their site, as it has remained true to its origin and not re-aligned or added pages to reflect the common core like its latest version, I believe.
    Thanks for all you do to inform and inspire us!

    1. Yes, Carlen, that is another great way to avoid the Common Core nonsense in math. I have a good friend who just purchased a bunch of years' worth of MUS curriculum because the older version is on clearance right now on the MUS website. And thanks for the words of encouragement, friend. :)

  4. Great info on Common Core here...I *hated* using Everyday Math (aligned w/the C Core) when I taught several years in public schools. However, I now use Life of Fred and Math-u-see and am wondering if my MUS is the newer, "tainted" version (bought it last year...) ugh. I have gone back and forth with Math and try to remain flexible to my kids' needs and learning styles...did Saxon for Kindergarten...have mixed feelings...thinking of bringing back their whole Morning Math Meeting element, bc my gal picked up soon much from the repetition of doing the same tasks each and every day (weather graph, counting, skip counting, date writing, patterns, etc etc). We love Life of Fred most, MUS second favorite, and Saxon last, but I would feel most confident with Saxon as a's just quite a lot drier (...and we had tears more often...) Still, I know it has some major strengths, just not necessarily for my child, at this time. Sorry to ramble ;) thanks for the info!

    1. Great comment, Crafty! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. Going in June. Thanks for the teaser. Can't wait!

    1. Oooh! Let me know what you think about it!!

  6. Hey there! I love your blog! A friend from church told me about it since we're digging into homeschooling. I have a quick question about curriculum. I would have a kindergarteninthefall and a second grader in the fall. How does the curriculum break down... Meaning what subjects am I free to choose and which ones are set. Does that make sense? I'm wondering about my freedom to created own curriculum in different subjects. Hope you can understand what I'm asking!

    1. It's great to hear from you, Jessica! I, also, will have a kindergartner in the Fall, so I'll tell you what I know about curriculum (which, admittedly, isn't too much; I'm relatively new to all of this, too!). If you do CC, you will have 24 weeks of memory work in 8 subjects. You'll have to do a separate Math and Language Arts program on your own, but CC covers the rest. I recently did a post just about Classical Conversations, so be sure to check that out if you're interested. As for my kindergartner, we're doing the CC memory work, Saxon Math, All About Spelling, and Bible Study Guide for All Ages (Bible curriculum). We might do one or two other things, but that's the bulk of our K year coming up. I hope that helps a little, Jessica! If not, let me know and we can talk some more. :)

  7. I truly hope that the common core doesn't come to attack homeschoolers =( It is all really very sad. On a happier note, it looks like your practicum was awesome! I haven't really thought about math from a Biblical perspective (except from an absolute truth sort of way), so I'm sure that information would be very interesting! I'm going to check out that website you linked to. Thanks for linking up to Trivium Tuesdays!

    1. I hope it doesn't either, Amy, but I really don't see how we'd be left out of it. With big name curriculum-makers aligning themselves with it, it won't be long until the college entrance exams are tailored to it. And then what? If we want out kids to go to college, they'll have to play the game. Big sigh. . .

    2. I don't know if you have heard of this before but there is a homeschooling momma in Wisconsin that has queried hundreds of curriculum providers and how they relate to common core. It is a great project and they have a facebook group too (one of my favorites). You can find the list here: I believe Saxon is aligned except for the homeschool edition (which may be 3rd edition as you mentioned). We use it and love it. :)

    3. Oooh! Thanks so much, Jennifer, for sharing! I'll check that out! :)

  8. Thought-provoking writing ! Just to add my thoughts , you need to fill out a CA SUM-100 , my business partner filled out and esigned a fillable version here

  9. As far as Saxon 3 being kept "classical," what about the other levels?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...