My CC Story
“We believe the purpose of education is to know God and to make Him known. True education should prepare us to love learning and to see the world from God’s side of the sky.” – Leigh Bortins' Echo in Celebration. My name is Ilse-Marie Smith and I am the director of an extraordinary community in Strand [Western Cape - Ed.] and support representative for the Foundations/Essentials communities in South Africa. Our CC journey started in 2015 when [Classical Conversations pioneer - Ed.] Jennifer Hanekom had the courage to start the first community in South Africa.
My husband, who is very Afrikaans, wasn’t quite on board with this English curriculum because our children were young (6, 4, 3, 3 years old) at the time and had no previous English experience. His concern was that they would not be able to understand what was happening in class. Within two weeks however, my children were singing the English skip counting and history songs. Since there are always parents present in class, they are able to translate quietly if the child does not understand. It also helped that I was tutoring at the time and had to know the week’s work. We were able to review the memory work while jumping on the trampoline or driving in the car and whenever they didn’t understand the words I could explain it quickly in Afrikaans. My children are now completely bilingual, something I am very grateful for. My husband is now one of the biggest supporters of the CC curriculum.
CC has given my family the structure we need without squashing my creativity or personal style as homeschool mom. Before CC we tried a very rigid traditional school type program for exactly three weeks. I immediately realised that I needed more freedom especially with the toddlers in tow. We switched to my own eclectic style of lapbooks etc, but while that was amazing, I was concerned that I would miss something important as they grew older. The curriculum also enabled me to incorporate exactly the one room schoolhouse atmosphere I was looking for. With CC I have the framework and enough freedom to do with it what I want.
Since my eldest started with Challenge A this year, I have fallen even more in love with the CC curriculum. The fact that the students are given tools for learning in a Christ-centered worldview environment has helped my 13 year old blossom. The curriculum takes his natural curiosity and argumentative teenage nature and teaches him how to ask good questions, learn how to spot fallacies, as well as how to use formal and informal logic in discussions. I cannot wait for the next few years.
CC has given my family the structure we need without squashing my creativity or personal style as homeschool mom.
My children and I have loved doing CC in community. The fact that my children and myself have made lifelong friends in our community has been a blessing. By being part of the collective experience in community I have been able to grow as a homeschool parent in ways I never dreamed possible. For example, if I have a problem with a maths curriculum I can ask someone with older kids, who also understand the classical model, for advice. As CC grows I find it even more exciting that myself and my children have the opportunity to meet people from right across South Africa with the same worldview and model of learning (just imagine the exciting rhetoric discussions in university/college residences across South Africa in a few years’ time). As an introvert, I am eternally grateful for an opportunity to build these lasting relationships.
It is such a privilege to have used CC and to get to see God’s truth, goodness and beauty in all subjects. We love this curriculum!