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The Challenge I Program

Ages 14+

Students fourteen years or older discover the joys of rich conversations in this challenging program.

Challenge I students are encouraged to think deeply and critically while improving their reading, writing, and research skills.

Through studies in classical literature, British government, formal logic, Latin, physical science, algebra, free-market economics, and Shakespeare, students hone their dialectical skills and prepare for the rhetorical focus of later Challenges.

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Exposition

Classical Literature (First and Second Semesters)
Robust reading and writing characterize this seminar.

Students read essays, sermons, speeches, short stories, and novels.

Using The Lost Tools of Writing as the spine text, Challenge students practice the art of rhetoric by discussing their readings and by writing many essays during
the year.

Time management is key for both parents and students.

In seminar, students engage in book discussions, and directors suggest ways that students can improve their writing.

Grammar

Latin 1 (First and Second Semesters)
Students continue their study of Latin with an emphasis on memorisation of vocabulary, declensions, and conjugations.

Directors review previous lessons and present the new material from the upcoming lesson as needed.

Debate

British Government (First Semester)
In the true sense of classical studies, students will look at original historical documents and practice annotating and summarizing them.

Free Market Economics (Second Semester)
Students read and discuss various articles related to free-market economics in this seminar.

Directors lead discussions about the impact of free-market economics on national histories and present politics.

Students participate in various hands-on projects that allow for real-life understanding and practical application of current economic issues.

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Research

Physical Science (First and Second Semesters)
More textbook-driven than the research strands of Challenges A and B, students learn to take good notes and study from a textbook.

Each week, students are assigned a physical science module from the text.

In seminar, directors lead students through simple labs and explain the integrated maths principles as well as contents of the current module.

Integrating exposition skills, students also learn how to write a well-structured research paper with appropriate documentation.

Logic

Algebra (First and Second Semesters)
Each week, students further their understanding of maths through conversations about the building blocks of algebra and geometry: Numbers, laws, relationships, shapes, equations of the first degree, knowns and unknowns, and variables. Students may work from the Saxon resource or any other maths book of their choice.

Reasoning

Traditional Logic I (First Semester)
Logical thinking skills are foundational for strong rhetorical skills, and logic is an important subject within the classical method.

In Challenge I, we study formal logic to learn the classical syllogism, the four logical statements, and the seven rules for validity.

On a deeper level, students gain an appreciation of logic as it serves to lead them from one truth to another and to a basic understanding of the Christian theory of knowledge.

Drama (Second Semester)
Using The Taming of the Shrew, students learn to read and enjoy the plays of Shakespeare; they also complete a special project related to this play.

The theme of this play centres around courtship, so seminar discussion embraces that theme and compares different cultural perspectives on courtship.

Students listen to Ravi Zacharias’s audio presentation “I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah,” which examines marriage from a Christian perspective.

Parents are wise to use this integrated opportunity to discuss their family’s ideas and standards regarding courtship and marriage.

Spring Formal Protocol

Each spring, local directors may offer a formal event for Challenge I–IV students.

This is not a prom or a dating event; it is a chance to learn and practice the proper protocol during formal events.

“I pray our students will one day be world leaders and ambassadors to unsaved peoples, and I want them to know what to expect.”
—Leigh Bortins, Classical Conversations® founder and CAO

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Challenge I FAQ

We recommend that Challenge I students set aside an hour per subject per day during the school day. Parents will alter this recommendation as students adjust to the progression from Foundations to Challenge, but not all weeks are the same. Families will find that on any given week some strands will require less study time while others require more.

Remember, the Challenge I Assignment Guide is just that: a guide. You are the teacher. You know your student best and know when it is time to slow down or opt out of an assignment. This is the beauty of Classical Conversations and homeschooling. You remain in control of your student’s education. 

Many contemporary curricula introduce physical science in Year 9, biology in Year 10, chemistry in Year 11, and physics in Lower 6th. Students who complete physics by Upper 6th, as in Classical Conversations, are better equipped to handle the maths associated with those sciences because their maths skills are further developed and their reasoning skills are more advanced. Students need to be comfortable with the skills of Algebra II in order to solve chemistry equations. Students in other curricula are often encouraged to take chemistry and Algebra II concurrently. The problem with this approach is that they are being asked to apply algebra skills before they have mastered them thoroughly. The same pattern follows in physics. By following the traditional scope and sequence, Classical Conversations students are introduced to prerequisite maths skills ahead of time, at each level.

The beauty of our physical science seminar is that it has many goals, and learning facts about physical science is just one of them. A key component of the seminar is the time spent learning how to learn from a textbook. This is a critical skill, and one that many homeschoolers have not had the opportunity to practice. In addition, Challenge I students learn the step-by-step process involved in writing a lengthy research paper over the course of an entire semester. It is unlikely that your student has mastered all there is to know about the physical creation. Why not take the opportunity to repeat some information, mastering it further, while learning two new and important skills?

No matter what maths program a student uses at home, he or she will benefit from the conversation in our maths seminars. During our discussions, we travel up and down the spectrum of maths concepts from numbers and operations to algebraic equations and geometry and stretch into pre-calculus concepts. Too often, students are engaged in a maths curriculum with little to no conversation, and that leaves them feeling like maths is a disconnected series of steps. If maths remains a rather silent, robot-like, step-driven subject, students miss out on the joy of maths and its beauty as a tool for communicating the structure of creation. So yes! Your student should join the conversation whether or not he uses Saxon at home. We will have a great time discovering the joy of maths together.

Homeschooling parents desire to give their children a better education than the one they received. However, we often fall back on the same methods that were used in our educations, particularly in the area of assessment. As the teacher, you are most familiar with the quality of the work that your student has done, and thus you are in the best position to assign grades. Keep in mind that your student spends only about twenty per cent of his learning time in seminars. You can talk to your director and consider peer feedback as well, but performance in seminar should be only one facet of your child’s overall growth as a learner.

Perhaps you are aware that Challenge I is the year American students begin creating transcripts to record their work. Although British schools do not typically use transcripts, you may want to consider making one as it provides a good record of your student's work to show universities or employers. For more information on this topic, please click here.