TAN Academy Review and Comparison (2021)
by William C. Michael
History of TAN Academy
TAN Academy is a new homeschool program operated by the owners of the Catholic book publishing company TAN Books.
The program is investing heavily in online paid advertising, and claiming (oddly) to be the “premier Catholic homeschool program”, which is certainly not true (see below). There is, however, more misleading advertising that Catholics should be aware of. The company says, “TAN Academy is built and run by the same people who publish TAN Books.” This is technically true today, but it doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. When Catholics think of TAN Books, they think of a Catholic publisher that has been publishing traditional Catholic books since 1967. That original publisher ran into financial trouble and was bought out by new owners in 2008. Thus, the people who published TAN Books from 1967‐2008 are NOT the same people who are running TAN Academy. I believe that advertising is misleading. The people running TAN Academy are the people who have owned TAN Books since 2008. So, it’s not true that this homeschool program is being offered by the same people who published the classic TAN books over the past 60 years.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is owned by Catholic classicist William C. Michael, who has been working to research, restore, publish and teach the classical Catholic curriculum for 25 years.
TAN Academy Curriculum
TAN Academy is adding another modern K-12 homeschool program to a market that has no need of one. There appears to be no benefit made available to families by TAN Academy that isn’t already available through Seton Home Study. Rather than having a curriculum-based mission that seeks to solve a problem in Catholic homeschooling, it looks like TAN Academy is simply trying to leverage its influence in the publishing business to get a piece of the existing Catholic homeschool market. If Catholic families want a modern K-12 curriculum, they would be much better off in Seton Home Study.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy provides a real curriculum alternative for Catholic families who want to supplement the modern K-12 curriculum with real classical studies or who want to avoid the modern curriculum altogether and give their children the same education that was enjoyed by saints and wise men through history. Learn about the classical Catholic curriculum.
TAN Academy Resources
As said above, it’s pretty obvious that TAN Acadeny sees the homeschool community as an opportunity to package and sell its books. Despite being a new homeschool program, it appears TAN Academy simply uses the internet as a book-selling tool, rather than as a creative means of improving Catholic education. In 2021, printed books are a terribly inefficient means of studying and it makes little sense for a new homeschool program to be starting now with new printed books.
Outside of books, TAN Academy offers lesson plans that tell parents what to do for a student at a particular grade level. We have shown that this grade level approach to homeschooling rarely ever works well for families, especially when multiple children need to be educated. Why a homeschool program would promote the modern grade level approach for homeschool students makes no sense.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy works to bring modern technology into the service of Catholic families, eliminating the need to purchase expensive loads of printed books and disposable study materials. Though we teach from historic sources, we make these study materials available online at no cost to Catholic students, eliminating the costs and inefficiency of modern book studies. (Besides, the old books are always better than modern books.)
The CLAA also solves the problem of educating multiple children by providing self-paced courses in our free online Study Center that avoid the problems of modern grade-level programs and actually make sense in a homeschool setting.
TAN Academy Costs
TAN Academy charges $250 for enrollment for one student for one year. This enrollment fee appears to include lesson plans and five 30 minute meetings with a “coach”. Who these coaches are is not stated, which is strange. It is unclear whether this enrollment fee includes the necessary books or whether they need to be purchased separately. It says that enrolled students receive a 40% discount on books required by the lesson plans. (I have written to TAN to ask for this to be clarified and will share the response I receive.) If parents must purchase books after paying for enrollment, then I believe it is more clear that the owners of TAN Books are using TAN Academy as a means of creating book lists to sell their books to homeschool families. Hopefully that is not the case. $250 plus books per year would not be reasonable for what’s being offered.
Update: “The cost of enrollment does not include the required books.” (TAN Academy)
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy joins ancient learning with modern technology to make classical Catholic education available to students for free.
TAN Academy adds another name to the already crowded modern K-12 homeschool market. It makes no sense why anyone interested in such an education would choose any option other than Seton Home Study, which has been doing this for over 40 years. With so little offered in terms of benefits and services, it appears that TAN Academy is simply a marketing mechanism being arranged to increase book sales for TAN Books. I cannot see any academic benefits offered by the program or how it solves any existing problems in Catholic homeschooling.
Worst of all, it appears that TAN Academy is trying to appear to Catholic homeschool families to be something it’s not, using pictures of old schoolhouses (which didn’t follow the K-12 model), the reputation of the old TAN Books publishing work, and references to “classical” and “traditional” Catholic education where no such thing is being offered. We see this in many Catholic homeschool publishers today, which prefer to exploit the ignorance among modern Catholic parents rather than do thw hard work needed to educate them.
Catholic families can choose between modern K-12 education, a classical Catholic education or a combination of the two. For families who desire a modern education, Seton Home Study will be the best option. For classical Catholic education, the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is the only option available. To learn how to enrich the Seton curriculum with classical studies, see our article, Enrich Your Seton Homeschool Curriculum.
God bless your studies,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy