This is an excerpt from the Christiana website and explains what a 2-day a week cooperative would look like:
First, we ARE NOT a school. There are several ways we could define our program, but we are a cooperative. Cooperative is defined as working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit (dictionary.com). All of our families are expected to ‘cooperate’ in some way. That may be teaching, assisting with administrative duties, working in nursery, etc. We are working together for the purpose of educating our children.
So, what do we do? To begin, we meet two days a week and provide classroom instruction (to small classes -- 10-12 students per class). While many folks successfully homeschool around the kitchen table, with mom leading the way, some children need extra accountability and do well with someone else teaching them. We don’t have ‘teachers,’ but consider our instructors to be ‘tutors.’ These tutors are assisting in the homeschooling by tutoring your children two days a week. Some of these tutors are previous teachers from public or private schools, some worked in the area in which they now teach and some have been ‘late bloomers’ to a particular subject, studying on their own to learn the subject matter. Most of our high school tutors have a background in their particular subject matter. Many moms/dads tutor, but we also hire folks from the outside.
Our classical ‘roots’ dictate our meeting together…just like Socrates questioned his students and opened up discussion, so we see the ‘meeting together,’ discussing and questioning as crucially important to the learning process. Plus, we can make a mess in the classroom with science experiments, history timelines, and art appreciation.
While we value the pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness in our pursuit of academic study, we also have fun together…friendships grow and flourish as students meet together to learn. We offer school activities like drama, art. Also, activities like prom and father/daughter dance, graduation ceremonies (K, 8 and 12), crazy hat days, spelling bee. It is important to learn well, but it is also important to explore creative sides and enjoy community relationships.
What DON’T we do? We are NOT the final authority. We are, instead, your servants…you are STILL the parent and you are in charge of your child’s education the other three days. By participating in our program, you agree to help your child at home, working with the curriculums we have chosen and completing assigned homework. But you have some flexibility and hopefully, creativity, to help your child on home days. For example, your child may be a poor reader and you may need to read aloud to him. Or, writing may be slow and painful, so he dictates part of the work to you. Is the homework long one day? Perhaps you discuss with the tutor a way to modify for that day. We do test children as they come into the program, so hopefully they are on target with other children in the class.
We also want to clarify that we DO NOT provide official transcripts. We do provide an online grading system to help you keep track of assignments and do have certain percentages for students to achieve in order to move onto a next level of education. This is an important tool for our parents and our tutors, but you will continue to be under an umbrella group or school system for oversite.
We are a community. We try to provide support, a structure and a place for your child to make friends and grow in academic knowledge and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But please know that we are imperfect people and sinners saved by grace. As in any community, we will strive to work well together, to apologize when we wrong each other and to encourage each other in success and failure.
Since I have been homeschooling, I have often told friends that my own education has been ‘redeemed.’ What exactly does that mean? Well, if you think about a coupon that you redeem, you actually turn it in to claim its value. Or if you think in terms of Christ redeeming us, he is ‘getting us back,’ into a relationship with God.
When I think of my education, I often remember being teased because I had glasses and braces. Or later on, in middle school, I was a bit nerdy and was teased for being a book worm. I remember being boy crazy and thinking about the spring musical and if I wanted to participate. But, rarely do I remember discussions about history or remember formulas or patterns that I learned in math. My education boils down to the experiences that I had in school, not what I learned.
And yet, here I am, ‘up to my ears’ in education again. When I decided to homeschool my own children, I did so largely because I wanted to be the one to have the most influence with them. I also wanted to choose how they learned and what they learned. I wanted them to have a strong Biblical education and wanted to be able to sing, read and do art with them. But little did I know that we would end up at a place that would plunge me into the depths of the ocean of knowledge, right along with my children.
My education is being redeemed. How? Well, I used to claim that I was pretty good at math…and I was. I earned the top honors for math in my high school and took more math in college than I needed. I understood all the formulas and patterns, but now that I teach it, I REALLY ‘get it.’ So much so, that I can teach it better every year. And while I loved history, I never really saw patterns of ancient governments reemerging in modern history. I hadn’t really studied leaders and didn’t understand how governments had been set up and run throughout the centuries. The real kicker is that I studied Writing and English in college. But my real knowledge of grammar came when I taught it. Year after year, the grammar of the English language has made more and more sense. Along with all that, I am able to discuss some of the great classics with my own kids. I have gone through Homer several times and can actually have a fairly knowledgeable discussion about his stories. The same can be true for any subject…when I taught piano lessons a number of years ago, all that theory came rushing back in and made perfect sense.
You see, we live in an intricately created and beautiful world…God’s story in scripture and beyond is a beautiful story of redemption and we continue to see his handiwork into our own stories. Studying history becomes a reminder of all the times that God’s hand has saved, ordained, intervened. As we look on creation, and consider the heavens, we should be awestruck at all that God has done. Studying the sciences and considering that God made all of this should blow our minds. I totally did not engage in my science classes in high school because I just wasn’t interested. However, I have been called on the carpet by my creator…NOT INTERESTED? REALLY? IN ALL THAT I HAVE MADE??? Yes, I recently realized that my lack of interest and engagement in what God has done is not right. My eyes have been opened to the beauty and intricacies of His world.
Homeschooling is hard work…we need to teach our children, keep records of our progress and cook dinner after a long day of schooling. Sometimes it seems like we can’t keep up, but what if we consider that we are in ‘school’ too. As we teach, can we experience that ‘wonder’ of what God has made and done? I have tried this method of learning with my kids and ‘redeeming’ my education and now that my kids are just about all ‘graduated,’ I find that my education continues. I guess I’m finally turning my coupon in and finally redeeming the ‘value’ of my education.
I was recently asked an odd question concerning my homeschooling. That question caused me to really think. The question was ‘aren’t you looking forward to being done homeschooling so that you can read what you want and catch up on TV?’ Hmmmm…I have homeschooled for 20+ years and I must say that it has been the HARDEST job that I have ever done. Being responsible for teaching my kids to read, for mapping out their curriculum, for making sure they knew math and science…I could go on and on. It is not a task for the faint of heart. My book shelves are bulging with curriculum, some well-used and some never used as those books weren’t worth opening.
But there are a couple shelves containing books that are so worn that the bindings are nearly gone, the margins are no longer white because of the comments in the margins, and some of the pages are missing because they fell out. Those are the ‘great books’ that made it onto our co-op’s list of great reads throughout history. Aristotle, Homer and Plato made the list. Virgil, Shakespeare, Plutarch and Livy show up in 10th grade. Boethius, Dante and Twain entertain and challenge our 11th grade and finally in 12th grade, we have the likes of Pascal, Descartes, Swift and Paine. The friend who asked me this question about finally ‘reading what I want’ has heard me talk about these books. I can’t say I’ve read them through all the way…chapters, sections, and synopses here and there. I’ve talked with my children about these books and have learned a great deal through ‘chewing’ on the words of these authors of old. And then there is summer reading. My book list is long…it seems to grow exponentially and bookshelves overflow. Ayn Rand has been a favorite recently and Twain is a favorite ‘go to’ author. I currently am working through Federalist Papers and none of this writing is easy to read and process.
But as my friend realized, my days of homeschooling are just a few years from being over and then I can read what I want. However, I have been to the fountain. I have learned from the best. I have seen words woven together in such a way that I can’t leave them behind. I come to a fork in the road. I could return to mindless fiction for a steady diet of information or I can continue to meet with the great voices of history and delight in a hearty diet of great words!
You see, my children have been classically educated. This type of education is reaching the WHOLE person and in my situation, it has reached the WHOLE family. As my children have read and I have read, we have engaged in rich discussions, asking questions and pursuing truth. The structure of a classical education involves educating children appropriately according to their age and stage of development. But this education also involves integrating subjects and making connections. Our current government run education involves compartmentalizing everything. You take math, you take science, you look at a portion of history. But with a classical education, we want to work through history and understand how science was influencing a culture, why different people groups were fighting, how the church was being persecuted and changing. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We want our students to question, to debate, to draw conclusions and ultimately to find truth. There isn’t a different truth for each person that lives in the world. There is THE truth and we are on a path to discover that truth. From the moment a child enters Kindergarten until they take the stage for their Senior Thesis, we want them to grow in the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to know how to think and affect the world around them.
So, back to the question at hand. What will be on my reading list in a couple years? I can’t say for sure, but I can say with certainty that I have met some pretty remarkable guys…Plato, Homer, Virgil, Twain, Dickens, Franklin…I think that I want to hear from them and chew on their words a bit longer. I’ve been classically trained myself over these last 10 years and I don’t want to stop.
Won’t you join me?