Master memorizers compete for national title

Southern Pines, North Carolina—Every child dreams of being the best of the best, so for those Classical Conversations students who have earned the title of Memory Master over the past few years, you can now dream of becoming the best of the best, the one and only National Memory Master!

Jackson Ford, of Fountain Valley, California, was just 11 when he won the 2017 title of National Memory Master last year, along with a $10,000 cash prize. So, who will be the next 11- or 12-year-old National Memory Master champion crowned this coming May?

The first step to earning this year’s title is for a student to be proofed by his tutor and director for this year’s Memory Master Cycle 3. Step Two begins Friday, Feb. 9, when CC releases its story prompt for qualified students to tell a story in an interesting manner using history facts from any of the three cycles, which their parents will video. No props or prompts of any kind are allowed, whether in front of or behind the camera, and the maximum length of the video is 210 seconds. In order to be considered for becoming a finalist, the student’s video must be successfully uploaded by 11:59 p.m., EST, on Feb. 16.

All uploaded videos can be viewed and voted on by family, friends and classmates until 11:59 p.m., EST, Feb. 25. National Memory Master staff, then select judges in a third round of judging, will then review all the qualifying videos and select at least one finalist from each of CC’s 12 regions, which include all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A total of 16 finalists will be selected based on accuracy of information, quantity of history facts, creativity of the presentation and the popularity of the video. The 16 finalists will be announced on March 6.

For more information about the NMM competition, click HERE.

A parent or guardian of each finalist will receive two tickets to the 2018 Capstone Cruise and up to $800 as a travel stipend. The finalist must compete in the finals on April 30 while onboard the Carnival Liberty cruise ship, cruising to the Bahamas.

Last year’s national champion Jackson Ford was a five-time Memory Master going into the competition. Still, it wasn’t easy.

“I can’t believe I won!” Jackson said immediately after the competition. “It was a lot of work, but I’m so glad I did all that hard work; it is definitely worth it! I had a blast on the cruise, and I’m glad I got to meet a lot of new friends.” Jackson plans to put his winnings into his college fund.

Who will be the next CC student to work very, very hard to become the best of the best—the 2018 National Memory Master?

Classical Conversations® is a classical education resource used by homeschoolers in all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. CC now has more than 117,000 students enrolled in its tutoring programs, which are provided by more than 2,500 CC communities. CC provides resources, guidance and a community for a Christian home school curriculum using classical education in three developmental stages: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric.

Leigh Bortins started Classical Conversations in 1997. The family-owned company is headquartered in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.classicalconversations.com.

National Number Knockout will crown 2018 champ May 1

Deadline for ‘insiders’ Prime Advantage registration is Jan. 31

The 2018 National Number Knockout (N2K) competition is gearing up, and today is the last day for competitors to register for the Prime Advantage package, which, in addition to tips from previous champions, examples of variations used in past competitions, and advice on solving for the highest numbers first, will also give your competitor a week’s head start on the scouting video prompt.

National Number Knockout (N2K) is returning to the high seas this May. Sixteen finalists from across the nation will compete for the title of 2018 N2K National Champion and a $10,000 cash prize onboard the Carnival cruise ship Victory on May 1.

To the uninitiated ear, the answers sounded like gibberish—faster than a veteran auctioneer. But to Ethan Gates, 12, of Rochester, Minnesota, he not only knew exactly what he was saying, he was also performing dozens of math equations in his head to get those answers. All in 60 seconds. Ethan performed these mental math gymnastics so fast, in fact, that he won the 2017 National Number Knockout championship last May, along with a $10,000 grand prize.

Students interested in entering the National Number Knockout competition must submit a scouting video via YouTube by March 4. This year’s Scouting Board will be announced to Prime Advantage members on Feb. 1 and to the general public on Feb. 8.

The competition is open to all homeschool students in the United States and all military families abroad who can provide a U.S. Birth Certificate. N2K will pay for the cruise and travel expenses for the 16 national finalists. An additional prize of $2,000 will be awarded to the champion’s educator.

N2K gives finalists more than just a cruise to the Bahamas and the chance to win $10,000; the game helps students improve their calculating speed and accuracy. N2K is easy to pick up; it excites students and challenges students of all abilities.

National Number Knockout is a mental math game played with three dice and a playing grid of 36 squares, each containing a number. Students are given 60 seconds to generate as many equations as possible with unique answers from the numbers on the dice using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, roots, and exponents, in such a way that the result is a number on the board.

For more information about N2K, visit nationalnumberknockout.com.

The N2K competition is hosted by Classical Conversations®, a classical education resource used by homeschoolers in all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. Classical Conversations now has more than 117,000 students enrolled in its tutoring programs.

CC provides resources, guidance and a community for a home school curriculum using classical education in three developmental stages: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, and taught from a Christian worldview, according to its founder, Leigh Bortins. She says CC supports homeschooling parents by cultivating the love of learning through a Christian worldview in fellowship with other families. She believes there are three keys to a great education: classical, Christian and community.

Leigh Bortins started Classical Conversations in 1997. The family-owned company is headquartered in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.classicalconversations.com.

 

National Championships and Commencement headline Classical Conversations® Capstone Cruise

Planning for the third-annual Classical Conversations® Capstone Cruise is nearing completion, and the deadline for cruise registration is fast approaching. The five-day, four-night cruise and celebration will be on board the Carnival Liberty cruise ship, April 30-May 4.

More than 320 people—CC students, parents and staff—joined in last year’s Capstone Cruise to the Bahamas, April 30-May 4, which featured the commencement of 27 CC graduates and national championships in National Memory Master (NMM) and National Number Knockout (N2K).

“The Capstone Cruise is our only annual, national event,” Classical Conversations’ CEO Robert Bortins said, “and if you haven’t been the past couple of years, you have no idea how fun a cruise can be until you take one with 300 of your closest friends! The cruise is open to anyone connected with CC—parents, grandparents, former CC families, CC graduates, etc.—regardless of whether you have a graduate this year or an NMM or N2K finalist. We’d love to grow the Capstone Cruise to the point that we could book the whole ship!”

Built in 2005 and completely overhauled in 2011, the 110,000-ton, 952-foot long, Conquest-class Liberty has 13 guest decks and cost half a billion dollars to build. Liberty has accommodations for almost 3,000 guests, served by 1,160 staff and crew. Eating options include Guy’s Burger Joint, inspired by Food Network star Guy Fieri, the Blue Iguana Cantina, the Mongolian Wok, Seafood Shack, and Steakhouse, in addition to the ship’s traditional dining room.

There’s plenty to do onboard ship: current and classic movies, live cooking demonstrations by the ship’s chefs, floor shows, the Punchliner Comedy Club, two pools and a giant poolside movie screen, even the giant Twister waterslide.

For the young and young at heart, Dr. Seuss will be the cruise director. Beginning with the Dr. Seuss character parade, interactive storytime and arts and crafts activities, through the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, the world’s greatest children’s storybook author and his unforgettable characters will be front and center.

On Monday while in Nassau, Bahamas, cruise guests who aren’t in the NMM finals will have the opportunity to take great day excursions including history tours, snorkeling, a day at the Atlantis Aquaventure Park, swimming with dolphins or golfing.

Unless guests are interested in the N2K finals, Tuesday will be spent on Carnival’s own private islands—Princess Cays. This is a very relaxed day during which you can bask in the sun on the beautiful, white sands beaches or kick back in a giant hammock under tall palm trees swaying in the breeze. Lunch is an island barbecue. For those who just can’t lie still, snorkeling and dune buggy tours will be scheduled, along with a coastal cruise of the islands and a glass-bottomed boat excursion over the nearby coral reef.

Wednesday will be spent at sea and feature the Classical Conversations Commencement at 2 p.m. that afternoon.

The 2018 Capstone Cruise will depart from Port Canaveral, Florida, at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, returning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 3.

For those who have already registered for the cruise, the deadline for final payment is Feb. 1. If you haven’t already registered, the CC group pricing will be available until February 28. After February 28, cabins may still be available, but the rates will likely go up.

For the most current information on the 2017 Capstone Cruise, visit: https://www.classicalconversations.com/capstonecruise.

Call CC’s cruise agent, Karen Conken, for questions about the cruise, payments for travel, selecting flights and hotels, and other travel details.  Call: (877) 372-5661 or email: [email protected].

Classical Conversations® is a classical education resource used by homeschoolers in all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. CC now has more than 116,000 students enrolled in its tutoring programs, which are provided by more than 2,500 CC communities. CC provides resources, guidance and a community for a Christian home-school curriculum using classical education in three developmental stages: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric.

Leigh Bortins started Classical Conversations in 1997. The family-owned company is headquartered in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.classicalconversations.com.

Homeschooling lessons learned from Google employment research

Many parents in America and throughout the rest of the world believe that the key to career success for their children is a steady focus on the hard sciences: Science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM. Now, research coming from one of the world’s most STEM-centric corporations—Google—is indicating that soft skills may be every bit as important to the success of an employee.

In Google’s 2013 Project Oxygen, it studied all of its hiring, firing and promotion data since the company began in 1998. From its inception Google valued those STEM skills, particularly computer engineering and mathematics, above all else. But what Project Oxygen revealed was that STEM expertise was the least important quality to making a good Google employee. The eight characteristics of its top employees? In order:

  1. Being a good coach
  2. Communicating effectively
  3. Listening well
  4. Possessing insights into others (including different values and points of view)
  5. Having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues
  6. Being a good critical thinker and problem-solver
  7. Able to make connections across complex ideas
  8. Expertise in STEM-related fields

That’s right, STEM expertise was the least valuable characteristic to the success of its employees. Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding in spite of their technical training, not because of it? Not sure what to make of the results, Google brought in anthropologists and ethnographers to help unpack the data. The result? Google changed its hiring practices to include humanities majors, artists and even MBAs who had initially been overlooked in Google’s pursuit of techno-geeks.

A follow-up study in 2017 with a very classical sounding name, Project Aristotle, confirmed the Project Oxygen study’s results. Google uses two different types of inventive and productive teams to develop new products and services; it’s A-teams are comprised of top-flight scientists and engineers, while it’s B-teams are a bit more pedestrian—more regular Joes and Janes without the Ph.Ds. Project Aristotle revealed that a majority of the company’s most innovative and productive ideas came from the B-teams!

The data showed that the best, most productive teams at Google exhibited a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of their teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. Members of successful teams were confident that their teammates wouldn’t ridicule their ideas and wouldn’t attempt to steal good ideas and take credit for themselves—they trusted each other.

Google’s results sound a lot like the characteristics and learning skills that Classical Conversations fosters, don’t they? From the time they are 4 or 5, Foundations students are taught to be respectful to each other and to each other’s ideas and presentations. They are trained to be comfortable speaking in front of a group and working together. They are taught to listen and memorize—fundamental elements of learning.

The Challenge programs teach our students to communicate effectively, to listen well, to be critical thinkers and to be able to break down complex ideas and make connections to other complex ideas. Challenge students learn to be respectful to the viewpoints of their classmates and encourage their presentations while still being willing to challenge their ideas.

While STEM skills are valuable, and we should encourage our children to learn math and science and pursue them with excellence, the foundation of a classical education, and particularly, Classical Conversations, prepares our students to be lifelong learners, to be successful as engaged, contributing members of a community, to navigate relationships well and to be able to address the big questions of life.

Dr. Cathy N. Davidson agrees. The founding director of the Futures Initiative, a member of the Mozilla Foundation board of directors and the National Council on the Humanities, she writes, “STEM skills are vital to the world we live in today, but technology alone, as Steve Jobs famously insisted, is not enough. We desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural, and social as well as the computational.

“No student should be prevented from majoring in an area they love based on a false idea of what they need to succeed. Broad learning skills are the key to long-term, satisfying, productive careers. What helps you thrive in a changing world isn’t rocket science. It may just well be social science, and, yes, even the arts and humanities that contribute to making you not just workforce ready, but world ready.”

Classical Conversations® supports National School Choice Week

Southern Pines, North Carolina — National School Choice Week, Jan. 21-27, has rapidly become the world’s largest education-related public awareness effort.

Sponsored by Homeschool Now USA, National School Choice Week has grown from 150 events in 2011 to over 21,000 in 2017, according to Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. He is expecting more than 32,000 separate events later this month in all 50 states and a dozen foreign countries.

Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations, Inc., is also chairman of Homeschool Now USA, a primary promoter of National School Choice Week. Homeschool Now USA is a nonprofit coalition of homeschool organizations dedicated to unifying homeschoolers in a shared mission to promote homeschooling during School Choice Week.

“Our goal is for homeschoolers across the country to speak in a loud, unified voice, reaching Americans who may not know that homeschooling is a feasible option and encouraging more families to educate their children at home,” Bortins said. “I encourage all CC communities and families to plan their own event or get involved with one of the 32,000 local events already planned for National School Choice Week Jan. 21-27.”

School Choice Week participants include schools, homeschool groups, and local chambers of commerce, according to Campanella. Homeschool families and other school choice supporters can find National School Choice Week events in their area by visiting schoolchoiceweek.com/map. Events include everything from student dance performances to citywide school fairs to large rallies on the steps of state capitols.

National School Choice Week’s yellow fleece scarves have become one of America’s most recognized symbols of opportunity in education.

“We recognize that while every event, meeting, or activity during NSCW focuses on different aspects of school choice,” Campanella said, “the scarves provide a bright, colorful and energetic way to link these unique events together as part of a broader national celebration.”

New this year is the choreography of a hip-hop dance using the scarves to the official song for NSCW 2018, “Better When I’m Dancin’” by Grammy-winner Meghan Trainor. A demonstration video of the dance can be viewed at schoolchoiceweek.com/dance. Groups can enter their own dance videos on YouTube, along with #schoolchoice.

National School Choice Week shines a positive spotlight on effective education options for children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling.

While Classical Conversations thoroughly supports school choice, Bortins clarified, it does not support government funding of homeschooling but encourages private funds for private education.

National School Choice Week is a nonpartisan public awareness effort. For more information, visit news.schoolchoiceweek.com or SchoolChoiceWeek on Facebook.

Classical Conversations® to open new online store

Southern Pines, North Carolina—Classical Conversations, Inc.®, the world’s largest resource for classical homeschoolers, will roll out a brand-new, online store in the coming weeks, designed to improve its customers’ shopping experience, according to CEO Robert Bortins.

Students’ memory power to be tested in $10,000 competition

Every child dreams of being the best of the best—being Tom Brady or Steph Curry or Lionel Messi—so for those Classical Conversations students who have earned the title of Memory Master over the past few years, you can now dream of becoming the best of the best, the one and only National Memory Master!

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