Let me state this plainly: the Challenge B tutor has the best position in Classical Conversations. We wrestle Logic to the floor, we train opinionated kids to argue, and we watch children grow up into young men and women attorneys who go into battle in a courtroom.
Yeah, I’m a Challenge B tutor.
Five years ago my wise and strong-minded friend, Marcia, told me it was time I checked out Classical Conversations, even though her campus was 45 minutes north on the interstate. But an Information Meeting smacked me between the eyes and told me the classical education for which I pined was possible for us!
The fact that a Challenge program did not exist for my older kids did not trouble Marcia. She serenely informed me that I could become a tutor and both help the campus grow and earn something toward my tuition costs for six children. Magnanimously, she let me study the catalog and choose which level I wanted to offer, Challenge A or Challenge B. (These are roughly equivalent to 7th and 8th grade, but the skills taught and the content covered are fitting for a high school student new to classical education methods.)
It didn’t take me long to see how my background, temperament, and curiosity were suited for Challenge B. Logic, the centerpiece of the program, really captured my interest, because I could see the value of teaching kids how to reason well at this early stage, knowing what a fantastic foundation this would make for all future studies.
To get my training I traveled to Wilmington, NC and there I attended a practicum, had my first Krispy Kreme doughnut, and tasted a peach milkshake from a store whose misspelled name stumped me. Was that Chickfilla?
That first year I studied something like 15-20 hours a week because I was
young and inexperienced and thought I needed to know everything. It proved what Leigh Bortins said, that we are seriously undereducated. I didn’t know who Michael Faraday was or why I should care. I had to study my Latin grammar and spend time translating until I was getting the right answers more often than not. I had to learn how to lead discussion rather than tell students what I had discovered.
But I also became reacquainted with Algebra, which I loved as a teen. And the same with Logic, which I studied in college in a text not nearly as witty as this one. I learned how to argue coolly and persuasively. Four of my own children have come through my class and have all grown into thoughtful people. But its effect on me has been the most profound. It has trained me in the classical methods, so that now I can tackle any large project with confidence. It has taught me to read a book, tell a story, talk to strangers. Someday I may even feel the confidence to stand up at Town Meeting and speak so persuasively my neighbors will find themselves voting against their will for such things as fiscal responsibility, small government, or the right for unborn babies to live. Ha!
When a parent of a 13-15 year old visits the campus and dithers about where to begin in the fall, I am all courtesy and deference, when what I really want to do is grab the mother by the shoulders, stare her in the eye and say, “Do not miss this class. You will never regret putting your child in Challenge B. Give that child a solid year of Logic (and Algebra and Latin), dialogue (Literature, Science, Current Events, Mock Trial) and writing (Lost Tools of Writing, Science, Mock Trial.) This year, be a B.”
And the parent who considers taking on the task of tutoring B, the precious privilege of working with children who grow wise before your very eyes? The students and their parents are not the only ones you bless.
The one who benefits the most is you.
Thank you! Thank you! I am encouraged. After years(?) of prayer, my fears and doubt are abating. So, yes, I have agreed to tutor Challenge B! I’m trusting that God will fully equip me to do this :) Know that your enthusiasm is contagious.
Your community will bless you! Challenge B is a fantastic stepping stone for high school work. I found the first year challenging as I needed to study a lot to be prepared (and in my ignorance I followed bunny trails into the woods–I didn’t need to study up on formal debate) but every single day in the classroom was exciting and satisfying. Tutors who repeat Ch B have all that study behind them and preparation is easier.
I am so glad you are coming on board!
Thank you for your reply. I will be so grateful for any additional wisdom you have to share on tutoring Challenge B. I will check your blog periodically :)
Have you done a search in my blog? I have tagged Challenge B quite a few times. I remember how thirsty I was to know more of what I was getting into, and to offer a cool drink is my intent here. I titled some of my posts “the Practical Tutor” but I think I only got to two!
I have a 15 yr old son who is behind a about a grade level in reading & this would be his 1 yr doing CC. I have signed him up for B but the tutor is pushing for him to go into 1. But I want Challenge B for all the reasons you write about in your article. In your opinion, for someone with reading issues, would Challenge 1 be to difficult? Is social aspect of being with kids closer to his own age more important. I am even more confused and unsure of my decision.
I would definitely do Challenge B. I have had many 15, 16, and 17 year olds. It prepared them for Challenge I, which frankly, is a lot of work. Let him ramp up to it through a year of Challenge B. In my experience, students coming into CC through Challenge B scramble through the first semester, learning how to manage all their work, and develop good skills by the end of the year. That is invaluable.
I’m one of the blessed to be a first time Challenge B director. Yes, I’m undereducated. Yes, I study 15 to 20 hours every week. Yes, I’m loving every minute of it.
Yes! You get it! Glad to know there are others out there. :o)