Friday, August 24, 2007

How radical is Classical Conversations?

Last night at 9 PM I tuned in to CNN to watch the conclusion of the series “God’s Warriors.” I was interested to see how CNN would portray God’s Christian warriors, a group in which I claim membership. I was especially curious how CNN would use the interviews with the Nevarr family and Classical Conversations.

I was disappointed, if not surprised. Although CNN taped interviews with CC personnel focusing on the meeting point of intellectual discovery and faith, none of this perspective made it to the show. Instead, in their eagerness to divorce God from public life, CNN portrayed a strict separation between acts done for “religious reasons” and those done for any other reason.

It is true, as CNN emphasized, that many home schooling families, mine included, home school with the intent of giving God the glory. This is one fundamental aspect. But there is another aspect, intrinsically linked to it. Giving God the glory means aspiring to excellence in all areas of life. It means being unafraid to consider the hard questions of faith. It means being willing—even eager—to engage in dialogue with those who have a different viewpoint.

Home schooling is not done for “purely religious reasons,” as CNN asserted. Instead, Christianity inspires us to care about a number of other concerns: low standards of literacy, one-sided dialogue about controversial subjects, and lack of purpose in learning.

The interview with the Nevarrs reached a telling point when Christiane Amanpour asked, “What don’t you want your children exposed to?” The Nevarrs’ response? “We do want our children exposed to a Christian worldview.” This subtlety demonstrates what CNN missed.

In my home school community, most families chose to home school for positive, not negative reasons. Picture a good education as a tower of blocks. Instead of viewing public school as a completed tower with “bad blocks” that needed to be removed, my community saw public school as a tower that was missing several key blocks, blocks that home schooling could provide.

In a five minute segment, however, CNN was able to gloss over this important distinction; and then the show moved on to more ominous music and freeze-framed angry faces.

After the show ended, I found myself asking, just how radical is Classical Conversations? Compared to the other interviews, the Nevarrs seem almost out of place. But then I thought about the goals of Classical Conversations: to know God and make Him known, to challenge our culture’s low educational standards, to dare to think children are worthy of effort, and to confront the hard questions of faith and culture in an intellectual and purposeful manner.

In a culture where mediocrity, apathy, and “fitting in” are some of the highest values, these are pretty radical goals. When seen in that light, it seems CNN would have shown more footage from Classical Conversations. The home school movement is definitely growing. Why pass up on a perfect example of growing Christian radicalism? That’s a good question.

Classical Conversations is definitely radical. The only hitch is that it is not quite the type of radical that CNN was hoping to see.

-Jen, CC employee


Anonymous said...

My feelings were almost identical. It is interesting that you also found the Navarr comment to be the crux of this whole portion on the homeschool movement as a part of God's Warriors (that they homeschool because of what they DO want for their children, rather than what CNN was suggesting they DON'T want.) If 3 days of taping this portion of the homeschool community was edited down to what was actually aired on CNN it makes one wonder what the "rest of the story" is on all of the other portions of this 3-night special doesn't it????

Marta said...

Interesting to know.