Scholé Groups - a possible alternative for those pursuing Classical Christian Education

(Bruce Holt) #1

@Homeschool_Forum I recently learned about Scholé Groups from a friend who lives near me and homeschools her two boys. Like many others on this forum, I have appreciated much about our experience with Classical Conversations but have grown increasingly exasperated by the anti-evolution propaganda—particularly this year when my son was in Challenge A and reading It Couldn’t Just Happen. I knew our friend was in some sort of co-op, so I asked her two weeks ago if it was affiliated with any specific program. She said she loves the group, and I’ve started to research it and now think it could be a great option for our family next year.

I’m still learning a lot, but here are some initial impressions.

  • They implement the classical model much like CC does, with a focus on humanities, Latin, logic, writing, etc.
  • It seems that there is much greater variety in terms of how individual groups implement the Scholé model.
  • The group our friends are part of does not have a science component. I’m not sure how typical this is, but the other group I’ve researched (in St Louis, where I’ve been interested in moving to) doesn’t have a science component either. I also didn’t find any science texts on the Classical Academic Press web site.
  • There is no student tuition fee. Each group sets a price to cover facility rental, materials, etc., but overall it looks to be much less expensive than CC.
  • They have a partnership with Classical Academic Press that includes a 20% discount for group members.

I don’t presume that the lack of a science curriculum means that these groups will be filled with people who are friendly to EC. (The group nearest me meets just down the road from Patrick Henry College and the HSLDA offices—surely one of the heartlands of YEC ideology.) I’m not sure how my friend who introduced me to Scholé approaches science either. Her husband works as a scientist for the EPA and is a really sharp guy, so I doubt that he is YEC. I broached the topic with him via email, but we haven’t had a chance to discuss it in detail yet. But at this point I’d be delighted with a group that doesn’t deal with science. I’ll gladly put in extra hours helping my son work through a science curriculum in exchange for not having to continually counter CC’s anti-evolution ideology.

Does anyone here have any experience with Scholé Groups? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

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(Lisa) #2

I think I would also prefer a group that didn’t cover science, which is so ironic/unfortunate since I love science!

We have a Schole group near us with a middle school program that meets two days a week (and costs over $1600). This one does cover science though and they use Berean Builders (Jay Wile’s new series) for elementary and something called “The Rainbow” for middle school (which is described as “creation-based” and anti-evolutionary). So the groups must vary quite a bit. I would totally consider it if the group by us wasn’t using YEC science curric!

(Bruce Holt) #3


I gathered from some other messages of yours the general area you live in, and I wanted to let you know (if you don’t already), that there are two locations in NC listed on the “Find a Group Near You” page that I believe would be convenient for you and that have an individual looking to start a Schole group. I know it is too late to pursue that for this year, but maybe it will be something you’ll look into for next year.

It looked like my family might be moving to Springfield, VA this fall (it still could be a possibility), and there was a name and address for an “interested” person in that area. I contacted her, and she replied that she has no affiliation with Schole and her contact information was there in error. I hope you’ll have better success if you investigate this.

I really thought Schole could be a great fit for our family, but my wife seemed totally unwilling to consider it, so I haven’t done more research on the program since my original message, other than checking to see if there are communities in areas where we might move.


p.s. - I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned NC in my message. I see that you don’t have your location listed in your profile, and I’ve gathered that some people prefer a level of anonymity on the forum, but it wasn’t too hard to infer from things you wrote about. I’ll remove the reference if you prefer.

(Lisa) #4

Yes! There actually is a schole group right by us run by a mom that used to be in our CC group. For middle schoolers, it’s twice a week but it doesn’t cover the levels of math and sci that my son needs, so it creates a similar problem to CC…they assign homework, but then we wouldn’t have enough time to also do another curric that takes ~5 days/week to complete. It definitely seems less academically oriented than CC: “We maintain our pursuit of excellence in the classical tradition without the traditional rigor.” Since the groups do seem to vary a lot, some groups might be a lot different from this one.

We’re thinking about doing a co-op next year that’s just one morning a week and provides mostly electives. Then my son would still have time to take a couple outside classes in the specific subjects I’m looking for and not be weighed down with all the busy work that I feel like they are doing in Chall.

(Bruce Holt) #5

OK - I just wanted to make sure you also saw about the two potential groups—one in Chapel Hill and one in Mebane—that are listed in your general area (“Black font indicates an individual interested in joining or starting a Scholé Group.”) Since there seems to be much more variety in how Schole groups are implemented and since the one in Cary doesn’t suit you, I figured you might be interested in shaping how a new group develops from the outset.

I’m interested to learn what you see as the “busy work” of Challenge. I wasn’t nearly as connected to what Soren was doing last year in Challenge A, but I know that he often felt very stressed out about the workload and rarely got all the assignments for the week done.

(Lisa) #6

Oh, I see…I didn’t notice that those were potential new groups. Thanks!

Busywork is in the eye of the beholder! But for us, I see busywork as stuff that’s taking up time but doesn’t have a future benefit and isn’t teaching any useful skills. And this will depend on your child, but for our son:

  • Science- each week they write a 5-paragraph report on an assigned science topic using 2+ sources. The topics are very general such as “plants”, “astronomy” etc and the child picks a subtopic. My son picked “carnivorous plants” and “black holes” for those two. This is really easy for him and I feel like it’s somewhat of a waste of time in relation to science although it’s good practice as a writing assignment. In class, they all read their papers and that’s the entirety of the science strand for the first ~9 weeks. So due to that, we’re having to add an actual science curric at home.

  • Geography- since I don’t care if my son can draw the world beautifully, this just gets tedious. I want him to learn the country names and capitals and what countries they border, but I think you can learn this in much less time by practicing with the Seterra app. I am cutting a lot of the physical features from the list of what he needs to draw/label.

  • Rhetoric- thankfully our tutor decided we can do an alternate assignment to reading/summarizing It Couldn’t Just Happen! We can pick our own resources and the kids take notes on "examples of God’s glory/creativity/beauty/uniqueness in creation. But the kids are still supposed to memorize the catechism questions (from ICJH) which I think is an absolute waste of time. “What is unusual about the tongue of a mallee fowl? The tongue of the Australian mallee fowl is used to test if the nest temperature has changed as little as 1/10th of a degree.” I’m pretty sure everyone would agree that this is an exercise in rote memorization! If the point is to practice memorization, why not practice with something actually useful?

  • Latin- this is probably unique to us, but we decided we really want our kids know Spanish (because there are so many native Spanish speakers where we live). I think learning Greek/Latin roots is helpful but that’s not primarily what they are doing in Chall A.

For some kids, this might all be useful stuff and it also depends on the goals your family has. Since my son is very STEM oriented, we would need to add in several outside classes to fill out the Chall curric and I don’t think we have time for that :frowning: It’s really fine this year because he’s only in 7th grade. He’s on a lego robotics team that meets a couple days a week and we’re finishing up Alg1 at home and supplementing science. But he should be moving on to Geometry and Biology probably next year and I don’t think I could fit that in (we also have a 1st and 4th grader)! Is your son in Chall B this year?

(Bruce Holt) #7

I helped my son with a few of these last year, and I actually thought this was one of the better components of Challenge A. I recall he did papers on eclipses and on the volcanic origins of the Hawaiian Islands in the early weeks, but, as with other “strands”, he didn’t keep up with all of the weekly assignments through the year. Your son is probably ahead of mine in science and perhaps in writing also, and I can certainly understand the desire to skip the reports and do more a more in-depth science program with him. Soren has still only read about a third of the Novare Earth Science text that I got him a year and a half ago—a point of some frustration for me.

Well, you won’t find many who are more fanatical about geography education that I am, and I’ll say I generally agree with you about the relative importance of hand-drawing a map against learning the names of features and their topological relationships. But Soren was motivated was keep up with what the other students were doing, so we worked on this a good bit and I was impressed with what he could draw from memory. But you’re right; in terms of “useful skills” manual cartography from memory ranks pretty low. Here’s a difference between us: I added to the list of features I want him to learn, plus he added his own favorite locales (military history sites, Lord of the Rings filming locations, etc.). I also had him use maps that I made, since they were better than what CC was providing.

I couldn’t agree with you more here. Everything about the “apologetics” strand in Challenge A was a wreck. I’m all for memorization even beyond the Foundations years, but using It Couldn’t Just Happen and making a “catechism” of inaccurate and/or arcane quotes from it was an embarrassment.

This is the strand I kept up with least. I’m supportive—but not passionate—about his learning Latin. I’d prefer he learn another foreign language as well. I know this was Soren’s most difficult subject for the first few weeks, but he seemed to find a groove as the year went on.

Yes, but with a lot more to be said about that. I’ll try to elaborate on the “New School Year” thread when I next find time to write.