...through challenging course work and small group activities, students learn how to learn any subject.
They learn to see how every subject glorifies God. They learn to be great leaders.
(Meets weekly for 30 weeks)
Challenge is an aptly named program covering a full curriculum of subjects for middle and high school students. There are six levels: A, B, I, II, III, and IV. Typically students begin A when they are 12 and progress through each level completing Challenge IV as a senior, but older students are welcome in any level so you might find a 13 or 14 year old in Challenge A. The course work is sufficiently challenging to accommodate an older student. We identify Challenge “levels” rather than grades because we want students to enroll in the level they are prepared to study.
Each level progresses through math, Latin, science, and literature with additional seminars which include economics, history, philosophy, theology, logic, and drama. Courses were developed in order to cultivate skills in speaking, logical thinking, debate, persuasive writing, conducting science labs and writing lab reports. Students participate in challenging projects together such as Mock Trial, Team Policy Debate, Science Fair, Speech Events, economics projects, and much more!
What sets Challenge apart is that one trained parent-tutor serves as a year-long mentor in all subjects. These tutors are often called the “leading learner,” because they are learning the subjects along with the students. Tutors are responsible for leading the group activities and discussions. Parents are still the primary teacher at home, making sure students understand the material and complete the assignments so that they are prepared to participate in Challenge seminars.
Students spend the entire day with their tutor and study six subjects together. This allows them the opportunity to discover how all knowledge works together in an indivisible “universe” rather than a disconnected, “multiverse.” They learn to see that all subjects were not only created by God but are currently operating under God’s authority, working together. Tutors are trained to lead discussions and help students ask good questions, pursue truth, see the integration of subjects, and point them to the plumb line of God’s Word.
Parents and students follow a detailed Challenge Guide which outlines assignments to be completed at home. The skills students’ practice will ultimately prepare them to become leaders of the seminars by Challenge IV.
*Parents are not required to attend Challenge seminars with their students, as most parents are attending Foundations and Essentials programs with younger students, but some parents attend math or Latin seminar to learn with their student. Parents are also invited to visit seminars several times a year to observe presentations or debates.
A unique characteristic of the Challenge program is a focus on six skills, which are the timeless tools of classical study. These six skills form the strands that determine the subject choices.
Grammar: the study of language
Latin is used to practice learning a language. Students learn an English grammar concept and then learn how to systematically and analytically apply the concept in Latin. Students learn vocabulary and translate sentences which gradually increase in complexity from short sentences about the Romans attacking the Gauls to original speeches by Cicero.
Exposition and Composition: the study of humane letters
Students read classic literature and engage in discussions about theme, purpose, context, and meaning. Students are challenged to further explore their ideas through writing persuasive essays and presenting them to the class.
Debate: the study of argument
Students learn research, critical thinking, public speaking, and logic skills in this strand. Topics include geography (as foundational to all the following topics) current events, economics, government, and history.
Research: the study of the natural world
Students discover the sciences through this strand. An emphasis is placed on researching and presenting a topic in writing through research papers and lab reports. Students also develop useful study skills through the use of science textbooks.
Rhetoric: the study of expression
Students learn the skills of persuading others to the truth through formal logic, drama, philosophy, and theology. Discussion of engaging and challenging texts makes this strand a favorite among students. Presentations and speeches give students opportunities to further develop their public speaking skills, and eventually the students lead the discussions under the guidance of the tutor.
Logic: the study of measurement and shape
This is the study of mathematics. In seminar, students work problems together and explain the process of solving the problems. Mathematics is very much like a foreign language, and students need practice speaking it, so we spend seminar time teaching the concepts to each other. At home, students work through the text at their own pace.
A classical education capitalizes on the fact that we learn in three stages:
- We memorize the vocabulary and basic facts related to a subject. This is called the grammar stage.
- We learn to sort, analyze, and understand the vocabulary and facts. This is called the dialectic stage.
- We can apply our understanding to the subject in the form of teaching the subject, writing original papers, or giving original speeches, or solving problems. This is called the rhetoric stage.
Challenge Programs offer students practice in all three stages of learning so that they can teach themselves any subject. They memorize information, sort, analyze, and understand the information, and finally have the opportunity to apply the information as they write original papers, give persuasive speeches, solve problems, and lead seminars themselves. The opportunity to take their learning to the rhetorical level is the fulfillment of all previous learning and makes education rewarding and meaningful.
The chart below shows you how Classical Conversations’ high school seminars compare to the average admissions requirements at state and private universities. This is a general guide based on state guidelines in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina, college admissions requirements for UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, Princeton, Harvard, Clemson, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech, and guidelines from the Home School Legal Defense Association, as well as SAT and ACT college prep materials. Check with the university system in your state for specific requirements.
** Saxon’s Algebra II contains one semester of geometry. Taking Saxon Advanced Math completes the year of geometry (1 credit) as well as a year of Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus (1 credit). See the FAQ section of www.saxonhomeschool.hmhco.com for more information.