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The CLAA vs. Everything Else

The content of a classical Catholic education is easy to understand.

Dear parents,

Before I begin, I want to encourage you in homeschooling.  When you get started, you’ll find it’s a real mess of publishers and books and resources–that’s America.  Everyone’s selling something.  Fortunately, there are two very simple differences between the Classical Liberal Arts Academy and all the mess.

First, unlike all other homeschool programs, the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is not a book selling business.

In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com.  He was a Princeton grad, and wealthy hedge fund manager in New York City, and he saw the great potential for online business.  As he considered what products he should sell on his website, he chose books.  In 1997, Bezos was interviewed and asked why, of all things, he chose books to be his main product.  He explained that online book sales are easy money.  As homeschooling became popular in the late 1990s, people watched as Amazon exploded and many wanted in on the book-selling business.  Thus, homeschooling and book-selling went hand-in-hand.

The problem with this is that all that was–and is–available to sell is modern school stuff.  So, homeschool programs had to find clever ways to sell books and one of the ways was by inventing a marketing scheme called “classical education”, which allowed them to sell box loads of small, individual books not commonly used in schools, rather than the heavy, expensive textbooks.  All of the books were modern publications, in English language, and all the modern subjects remained in place, but somehow buying box loads of books, rather than heavy textbooks was a “classical education”.

Since then, dozens of homeschool programs have opened, all of which are selling boxes of books.  Most of them sell the same books in different packages or mix some of their own specials into the normal collections.  Some will emphasize this and some that, but, when all is said and done, they are online book stores.

If we ask, “What about this program makes it classical?”, we will get a number of recycled, ridiculous answers.  Most programs will begin talking about a 20th century writer named Dorothy Sayers.  Others will recommend books by Mortimer Adler, the editor of the Britannica Great Books series.  No matter what you do, you will need to buy books because that’s the business.  You, a homeschool parent, are a book-buyer, and the goal is to get as many books as possible into your cart.

In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we do not sell a single book, and there are three important reasons for this.  First of all, because we actually teach real classical studies, and all of the books we teach from are hundreds of years old, and available in the public domain.  Second, most of the books we teach from are only available in classical languages and we are the ones translating and restoring them them for modern students.  Third, we do not use the internet as a means of simply selling printed books (which makes no sense), but as a means of delivering study materials to our students in the most affordable and efficient manner possible.  We are a living, Catholic classics teachers working live, all day, every day, with students around the world.  We are not a book-selling business.

Second, the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is a true classical Catholic study program.

Modern K-12 education was invented in the early 1900s by wordly men not interested at all in the education of individual Christian children, but in the development of industrial American society–which needed millions of manual laborers who could read, write and follow instructions.  They were designing big, state-funded public schools and trying to figure out how run masses of students through those schools just as the industrial assembly lines were doing.

These schools completely abandoned classical Catholic education and replaced subjects like Catechism, Grammar, Logic and Ethics with Practical Arithmetic, Health, Physical Education and Social Studies.  Publishers wanted to cash in on the new state-funded business opportunities and turned their attention to publishing the textbooks the public schools needed for modern school subjects. Traditional school materials, which had been used for centuries, were left out of print.

Fast forward 90 years or so and the homeschooling business starts up, looking to sell books online.  The homeschool business owners had no classical education of their own, but that didn’t matter because the customers had no clue what they should be looking for anyway, being educated in modern schools themselves. The homeschool booksellers just start arranging homeschool “curriculum” programs with whatever books happened to be in print.  Being ignorant of classical education, the programs were almost identical to modern school programs.  They just used different books and worked to market their programs as different because they didn’t use “textbooks”–as if that was the problem.  Modern schools use textbooks, but classical students use separate individual books–boxes and boxes of them.

Unlike other publishers, my wife and I were actually studying Classics in college, learning Latin, Greek, Ancient History, Philosophy and Christian religion.  We were collecting old study materials from throughout Christian history and books on teaching published by saints and wise men of past centuries.  We were working to restore the course of true classical studies that was in place before the modern schools were invented and, thanks to the internet and our college libraries, we were able to piece it all back together.  In 2008, we opened the Classical Liberal Arts Academy and made real classical Catholic studies available to families again, using the original source materials that had been used throughout history.  We didn’t sell modern books and call them “classical”.  We established a true classical Catholic study program–the real solution to the mess of modern education.

Summary

In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we desire to help you provide your children with a true, classical Catholic education, and we want to help you do so as efficiently as possible.  We are not interested in selling you boxes of books and we will not blow smoke in your eyes, talking about things that are simply not true.  We are happy to not only work with your children and help them study from the same sources that all of your favorite saints studied from in their own turn, but also to help you, as parents, understand the history of Catholic education and have confidence that you are doing what’s right and good for your children.

If, as you consider other study programs, you begin to realize that you’re just being sold boxes of modern books, don’t fall for it.  Just look at what’s being sold to you and ask, “Did any saints study these books when they were given a classical Catholic education? If not, why are my children going to do so?!”

We are happy to work with you to first learn what needs to be studied by your children and then to help you make that a reality as they grow up through the years.  We will never pressure you to buy any books or services and will always work to make sure that what your children need can be given them.  We have an incredible amount to share with you.  Get started any time by reading our articles, browsing our website, chatting with us, or sending us any questions you have.  We’ll help you understand everything you need to give your children a true classical Catholic education.

To learn more, you don’t need to buy any books–put your credit card away.  Everything’s available right here and there’s tons of free content to learn from.  To begin, I suggest you read the “Featured Articles” in the left menu.  When you’re finished with those, visit the Articles page using the link in the top menu, where you’ll find dozens of helpful articles.  Best of all, connect with us by email, live chat or phone and ask any questions you have.

May God bless your families,

William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
wcm@claaonline.com

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