Looking For a Secular Florida Umbrella School?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Most people claim to despise labels. Not me. I agree that in a classroom situation they can be detrimental, when your only choices are good, better, and bad, for example, but otherwise, I think labels can be a very helpful way of pinpointing exactly the kind of person being described.

From various board discussions, I've heard that "homeschooling" carries a distinctly Christian connotation; "classical" has been co-opted by Christian groups, when the two are mutually exclusive; secular use of the trivium does not guarantee a "classical" education either. The marketing value of "classical" is becoming apparent and its misuse by the media, a certainty. What label then best describes our curriculum?

Let me think...

Liberal Arts sounds good, but most people when they ask, wouldn't get it. College Prep? Well, I'm not making any promises or claims that is where they're headed after this, so that's not entirely accurate. A Great Books study? Maybe later, we're only studying Pretty Good Books at this time.

I like the idea of classical, but we're only studying Latin, no Greek. Does backtalk count as Socratic dialogue? True classical focuses only on those ancients (well, duh), so modern history shouldn't technically be included. But Greek and Roman learning evolved over the years to include contemporary ideas, no? Neo-classical? Their knowledge of the world was not nearly as broad as ours, but would they have ignored it had they known more? I doubt it. Classical-style, maybe? Getting closer...

Then there's our approach: Eclectic? Eccentric? Semi-unschool? Too complicated...


Speaking of labels, my thanks to Phil Hendrie for the _____-style qualifier. The master button-pusher riled up a lot of listeners the day he insisted that there were no "African-Americans", or "Cuban-Americans", but only "African-style Americans" and "Cuban-style Americans." I can only take him in small doses, but if you haven't heard him, give him a try. Even with the frequent disclaimer added to protect his liability, he still manages to pull the wool over so many ignorant eyes. One of his funniest, in my opinion, was when Margaret, the socialite, was describing her charitable duty one Thanksgiving, donating complete turkey dinners to the needy, but nervously, because the neighborhoods were the type with carports and chain-link fencing in the front yards. She had to leave the food at the curb and honk, before speeding off.

And here's an instance where labels are important: When there is a serial rapist on the loose in North Miami Beach, and the press will only describe him as having brown hair and brown eyes. Come on! At the risk of offending anybody, the public service announcements only serve to protect the rapist. The fact is, in most cases, there are some distinctly identifiable racial characteristics. Why is everyone so afraid to mention it?

Maybe labels won't be so important in the future: My MIL says everyone will be tea-colored in 50 years anyway...


And speaking of MIL:

For Christmas she told the girls that their presents were two books each, that they could order themselves on Amazon.com, when they come up to her place. Dad just called and said the books are in!

If I remember correctly, their choices were:

S - Lyra's Oxford and The Only Coloring, Puzzle, Game, Dot-to-Dot Activity Book You'll Ever Need

G - Spring-heeled Jack and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

L - The Miniature World of Peter Rabbit: 12 Miniature Original Tales and Olivia Counts

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