30 March, 2006

My take on illegal immigrants

Well, I suppose that I must comment on the whole illegal aliens thing. No one in congresss is getting this right. They are, as usual, illustrative of the absurd. On the one hand we can ask illegals nicely to please let us know about them and then charge them a fine roughly equal to a month's wages in a $7 an hour/60 hour a week job, after all it's not like they live below the poverty line or anything. On the other, we can grant them blanket amnesty and go on with our lives.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm as white as they come. The number of Hispanic friends I've had throughout my life could be counted on one hand. I grew up in a place called White County, Indiana, for Pete's sake. So, I can't say that I'm any kind of expert on Hispanic issues or anything like that. On the other hand, I was the only Spanish-speaking teller at a bank in an affulent area of a large city. I saw more than my share of illegals trying to cash checks and open accounts. Most of them didn't have any ID, not even a Mexican driver's liscence (one guy did, but we couldn't accept it as ID). Generally one guy would have ID and would cash a large check, then pass the cash out to his buddies. So, I do have some perspective.

Here's my proposal:

1. Close the borders. Hire 50,000 border agents, put up a Berlin wall-esque fence, whatever. Before we try to deal with the ones already here, we ought to stop new ones from coming in as much as possible.

2. Grant blanket amnesty. You heard me. I'm a die-hard conservative, but this is the only thing that makes sense. The main issue we have with illegals is a security one. We need to be able to separate the sheep from the goats, and the only way to do that is to give them an incentive to show up. Give them a certain amount of time, say a month, to register. All they would need to do is provide an address and proof of employment.

3. Grant the employers amnesty. Employers would have to provide proof of employment for people, so they would need to be protected from prosecution, or they won't provide the proof of employment.

4. Remove impediments to hiring legal migrant workers, the only requirement should be that the job pay at least minimum wage and relevant taxes. (Don't want to pay the taxes? Hire the migrants as contract employees and make it their responsibility.)

5. After a month, anyone without a temporary green card gets deported, and anyone employing such workers is subject to heavy fines and mandatory jail time. Provide incentives for reporting this. Anyone with a temporary green card who leaves the country will not be allowed back in. Fines go directly toward the INS budget. Remove all temporary workers from public assistance and redirect that money toward the INS budget.

6. Hire the necessary number of INS agents to conduct background checks on registered temporary workers and to deport illegals. If a person can pass the background check, provide a green card, if they can't, deport or arrest them (depending on whether they pose a terrorist threat or not).

7. Put a hold on all immigration except that of dependant family members of U. S. citizens. The moratorium would be something like 6 months to a year, how ever long it would take to do the background checks.

8. When immigration is reopened, make it easier for people to emigrate. Toughen the background checking on new immigrants, but ease the financial requirements. Right now it is ridiculously difficult for a person to emgrate to this country unless they have a job waiting for them and an employer willing to jump through hoops to get them here.

I think this would solve most of the problems we have with illegals, and it would certainly address many of the security issues.

29 March, 2006

I am a beer


(66% dark & bitter, 66% working class, 100% genuine)

Okay, we all know Guinness is the best possible score on any "What Kind Of Beer Are You" test, so you can just go on and pat yourself on the back now. Like the world's most famous brew, you're genuine, you've got good taste, and you're sophisticated. What else can I say, except congratulations?

If your friends didn't score the same way, get ready for them to say: Guinness is too heavy; it's an acquired taste; it's too serious--and they probably think those things about you at times. But just brush 'em off. Everybody knows Guinness is the best. Cheers.
Link: The If You Were A Beer Test

I have submitted to the subconscious peer pressure from Mungo and KathyJo, and am now officially a beer. My brother would be quite proud of the result, as he believes Guiness to be the best beer ever created.

My long absence/farm update

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. We've had a rash of power and phone outages (still on dial-up out here in the sticks) and I've been working like mad to get the early spring crops in. The peas, beets, onions, garlic, potatoes, and lettuces are in and I've got the melons, peppers, cabbages, rhubarb, leeks, tomatoes and celery started inside. Now, I'm just waiting on the neighbor to get his tractor back from his dad so he can plow up the area for the new garden this year. The spring garden has taken up the entire garden plot I had for everything last year. Also, the ducks are on order and should be in about the end of May, we're going to brood them in the garage.

NAIS and the nanny-state

Okay, so I'm a little slow on the uptake. I've been hearing about NAIS for a while now, everywhere from the news to Coast to Coast AM, but I've not really looked at it myself until today. Man-0-man, do I not like it. I find RFID to be creepy when it's in a calculator, how much more so when it is in the animal born on my farm. The Orwellian and Mark-of-the-beast overtones get under my skin.

Not to mention that it violates my fourth amendment rights like crazy. And, there's no good reason for it. Small organic producers are very unlikely to spread disease and are very likely to know exactly where the animals from there farm went in the event there was a disease. So, why should the government be using spy satellites to locate my animals and why should I have to report their movements? What possible public good could be served by invading my privacy in this way? It's absolutely ridiculous. The entire movement is backed by agri-business in cahoots with the RFID manufacturers.

If you don't have a farm, don't think it will effect you, there is a movement to monitor pets in the same way. If you want to chip your dog, great, that's your business, but the government should not have the right to make you do so. For more info...

http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/index.shtml-- The USDA site
http://nonais.org/-- One of the many anti-NAIS sites, with info on upcoming public comment periods and how to contact relevant government officials.

11 March, 2006

garden miscellany

I got five rows of carrots and three rows of radishes planted today. The radishes should be ready around the first full week of april and the carrots, the third week of may. My seed order came in today, and I got red onion sets, garlic sets, and seed potatoes today. I also need to get celery, peas, lettuce, asparagus, leeks, beets, and seed onions in over the next week or so. I'll post as I get them done.

Clog dancing in my mind

Today was one of those soft early spring days that make me nostalgic. I don't know if it's the fecundity of this time of year or the melancoly of the skies, but this is the time of year when I miss my parents most. Growing up, this was always the best part of the year. We were getting ready for our big Easter banquet at Morris Bryant and annual trip to put flowers on the graves of all the family members who have gone before us. We were setting out the garden and planning for the reeactments we would go to. Dad would take me out to Fort Ouiatenon to throw tomahawks on a Saturday afternoon.

I live about 5 hours by car from all those graves and that continuity. The number of people in my adult life who share memories of my parents is growing smaller every year. It's down to my brother, my aunt and uncle, and a high school friend I keep in touch with. In some ways my life is similar to that I had as a child. I went out to the garden today and prepared the bed for my carrots and radishes. I could nearly hear my mother teaching me how to amend the soil as I shoveled manure on to the bed.

When the rain became too hard for me to stay outside, I came in to do some inside chores. I found a bluegrass station on the xm channels directv carries, and I've been listening to it as I work. My dad was the kind of guy who owned both a banjo and a wash-tub bass at different points in his life. I watch my children dancing to the music and am carried back to warm summer nights in Battleground, clogging to music at the Fiddlers'.

Spring is about continuity; the earth wakes from her winter slumber to start a new cycle of life. My children are part of me, and of my parents, and my grandparents in the long chain of life. As I pass down the traditions that were passed down to me, I bring back the spectre of my childhood and the loved ones on the other side of forever. I thank God for the opportunity to keep my parents alive with me in the little things, to be reminded of my rich hertiage as I pass it on.

09 March, 2006

Candlelight dinners

Last night we had a candle light dinner. No, it wasn't a romantic meal with hubby, he wasn't even home last night. Nope, our power went out. When we moved in last year we had power outages pretty much all the early spring. Supposedly, AEP fixed all the problems last year, but it looks like they may have not survived the winter. Lord, please help them to find and fix the problem.

The power went out at about 5:30, just in time for me to start dinner. It was pitch-black dark, since it was near dusk and very overcast. (Not actually raining, the power never goes out when it's raining here, it only goes out when it is raining somewhere else.) Since we reenact, we have plenty of candles and lanterns and things. But let me tell you, candle-light is pretty poor light to cook by. Thank the Lord and Hubby (whose idea it was) for oil-lamps. An oil-lamp puts out about as much light as a 40-watt bulb and they are much cleaner than candles.

Having grown up in a small town with frequent power outages, I insisted on a propane stove when we moved in. Unfortunately, the newer gas stoves are so electrical that the oven doesn't work if the power is out. So, there I am trying to figure out what I can make that doesn't require baking or water (since the well is electric, we only have what's sitting in the tank available when the power is out and AEP had no ETR). Then Mary, bless her, reminded me that we had saved the pitcher of water we didn't use at dinner last night. Spaghetti it was.

The kiddos had a good time "dark dancing" (I don't know what it is either, it involved going into the family room, closing their eyes, and dancing around like a nut) and we got two chapters of our read aloud done, by far a world-culloden-house record. By 9:45 the power was back on, which was a good thing, because I had left a lantern burning by the back door, completely not realizing that the garage door opener requires electricity to work and Hubby would have no way to get in that way. Well, my intentions were good anyway.

Today I get to paint the dining room, as Kiddo 1 (the 4yo) decided to "help dad paint" and I now have lovely red blotches on an otherwise light brown wall. We were going to paint that room, but we hadn't intended on starting until Saturday. Fortunately, I got the carpet cleaner out and the paint up off the carpet before the power went out!

What's in a name?

It has just now occured to me that the reference in the name of our farm may not be obvious to most people. "Culloden House" is the name of a manor house just outside Inverness, Scotland. It lends its name to the battle fought by "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and the Jacobites in April of 1745. A couple of the Jacobean kings were kings of England and Scotland, until Parliament got worried that they were too Catholic. So, James was exiled and the family went to live in Italy. Over the years there were several Risings that attempted to put the Jacobean line back on the throne.

The last of these was lead by Prince Charles, who came over via France to raise the clans and lowlanders in his father's name. He had some good successes in 1744, but by 1745 he was making mistakes. He fought the English on Drumossie Moor and the Highland line was devistated. Thus ended the Risings. It's called the Battle of Culloden because the nearest Scots manor in the area was Culloden House.

It is now a hotel.

It's book-it enrollment time

This is something I never get around to doing until the last minute. Last year we didn't even enroll. So, if you like to go to pizza hut occasionally and have a reluctant reader like mine is, go here.

08 March, 2006

Mungo's book is done!

It looks as though Memoria Press is ready to go to print on Mungo's book. It's showing up in the latest edition of The Classical Teacher, but it's not on the website yet. They aren't taking preorders just yet, so I'll have to wait just a tad bit longer. If you are interested in what they book is about, there are early drafts of the first few chapters available on the LatinClassicalEd yahoo group.

[update (3/9/06): They are now taking pre-orders, if you call. Expected ship date is April 1.]

It's a garden! No, it's a history lesson!

Well, I got my order for seed in to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed yesterday. I was going to order from them last year, but the cash was not there and I had to content myself with stuff from walmart. Good enough for what it was, but mostly not worth saving seed from. This year I'm going to try to save seed from a couple of the plants I'm growing and see how it goes.

Some of the more exciting seed I ordered this year includes:

  • Giant Musselburgh leeks, a Scottish variety from before 1811.
  • annas d'amerique a chair verte, a melon developed by Thomas Jefferson (the name is French for Green American pineapple, which melons are called in French).
  • Cherokee trail of tears beans, brought with them on their long, forced migration.

We did soil tests yesterday for science. Our land was heavily worked farmland before we got it, so, not surprisingly, there is almost no nitrogen. However, the pH is perfect and we have plenty of potassium and phosphorus, which is quite a bit of a surprise.

07 March, 2006

caveat on part 2

I am not at all happy with the way I've written part 2 of my Traditional Classical Homeschool post. There are some really akward parts, but I figured I'd better get it up before it started gathering dust. I may go back in and change bits, but if I do I will post the original text and the change here. Then again, I may just leave it the way it is, warts and all.

04 March, 2006

Traditional Classical Homeschool (part 2)

A traditional classical education is, in many ways, a completely different animal from a neo-classical one. Traditionally, an education could not be classical unless it centered around the classics. From the ancient Greeks until the 1800's, there was no need to use the term "traditional" or even the term "classical." One would simply call it an education. It was assumed that any learned person would know Latin and Greek, would have read Caesar, Aquinas, Herodotus, et al. For example, when Harvard was founded one could be accepted if he were at least 14 and could translate a passage from Greek into Latin.

Most modern 30 year olds could not do today what was expected of a teenager 200 years ago. Is this because life for teens is so much more complicated today? Because of a general breakdown in the family and community structure? No. The reason that today most adults never do what was expected of a colonial child is because we have shifted our expectations. We are now generalists. We spend at least 13 years in schooling learning dribs and drabs about everything under the sun. The 18th Century man was a specialist. He specialized in the classics and learned about and from the Greeks and Romans. And that was all he learned, at least formally.

Neo-classicism can fall into the same trap the institutional schools do. There are 6,000 years of human development to study (more if you go and look at things like australiopithicenes). When one uses history as the centering subject in his school, he then has to go out and study all the different accomplishments of mankind throughout history. If you read even half of the 1,000 good books through 13 years of education, that comes out to just over 38 books a year. I read a lot, but I don't think I've ever read nearly that many books in a year. Now, most neo-classicists don't read nearly that many books, but I would argue that even 10 books a year for an elementary age student is too many.

The key is to go "further up and further in" to quote C. S. Lewis again. Take just a few books (we are doing 2 this year) and really study them. A good education is not broad; it is deep. Learn a few things well and you will be able to learn anything you wish. As Miss Sayers said, the disciplines of the trivium are the "tools of learning." They do give us a pattern for thinking and analyzing. We can take them and apply them to any subject at any time, after we have them mastered. And this is the key. We have to master these tools for them to be of the best use. Can we master the trivium without applying it in the way it was designed to be used?

I would say no. The reason the trivium works so well is not simply because it follows the way we learn and grow, but also because of the subjects to which it is applied. Greek and Latin provide training and formation for the mind. Latin is a highly inflected language and is extremely logical. When a young child studies Latin grammar, her mind is being trained into the patterns of thought necessary for the study of logic. When she learns Greek, she prepares herself for elegance of expression. When she translates a passage from one to the other she uses all her faculties to their utmost.

Latin also teaches economy of words. A four word sentence in Latin might translate to 10 words in English. I myself never received a classical education as a child, and I find myself often saying in six words what I could have said as well in two. Read Lewis, Tolkien, Simmons, or any other classically trained writer and you will discover a beauty and an exactitude of language not found in the writings of those who have not been so trained.

This beauty in speaking is representative of an appreciation of beauty in general. For classical students do not just learn in the classical languages, they learn about the classical people. Greek and Rome in many ways represent a golden age the history of mankind. And, not only is there beauty to be found with the ancients, but purity of thought as well. St. Paul was a classically trained scholar and he brings all of the rhetoric and logic from his training into his writing.

Which brings us to question of whether we should learn about the classical peoples and societies. Christians often worry about exposing their children to pagan thought at too young an age (or sometimes at any age at all), but nearly all the giants of Christianity throughout the millennia were classically trained. When St. Paul declaims gnosticism, he can do so because he knows what and why gnostics think the way they do. When he tells the Corinthians that the wisdom of God is foolishness to men, he does so because he understands what Greeks thought and believed. To understand the Bible, we must understand the culture at the time it was written. So, in order to become a great apologist, one had best study the classics. Studying the classics also gives us a grounding for understanding our own political processes. The founding fathers took the best that the Ancients had to offer and combined it into our Republic. When we study the classics, we study ourselves.

As we see the benefit that learning about the Greeks and Romans and learning their languages impart, we can see how that they cannot merely be a nice "add-on" to an already full schoolday. Neo-classicists see Greek and Latin as a good way to enrich one's studies, but they do not see them as being central to study. Even as little as a hundred years ago, any classicist would have thought this idea laughable. Neo-classicists give the curricular supremacy once held by Grammar to history. Historical studies define and connect the various subjects in the school day.
But in order to do History well, we have a lot to cover. We need to get through 6,000-8,000 years of mankind's story every few years. We need to read as many of the great thinkers as possible. And we need to do so while balancing all the other subjects necessary to produce an educated person. That is a lot of plates to keep spinning. A neo-classical education is like a spider, it has many legs that support it. Take out one, and the education can still stand, if not as well, but take out more than a few and you get no where.

A traditional classical education is centered in the liberal arts. We take our children down the two paths of the trivium and quadrivium in our school day. These subjects, along with Classical Studies, form the three legs of our education. A traditional Classical education is a tripod. Pull out one leg, and it falls, but it only needs three legs to stand. It is simple and effecient, but complete.

Often, a traditional classical education is referred to as a "Latin-centered education." We take the focus away from history and place it on Latin and/or Greek. The Latin grammar is much less complex than the flow of history, yet it provides us with more than enough rabbit trails to follow. As we learn the words for the various provinces of the Roman empire, we learn their modern names and geography. When we come across a Latin phrase we learn its historical background. When we study words used in science we can take the time to learn about those studies. There is no need for separate English grammar, as long as the teacher understands it well enough to draw the comparisons between Latin and English (or has a good grammar reference that will allow her to do so).

So, in a trad classical course of study, Grammar is paramount, and the other parts of the trivium are added in as appropriate. Rhetoric is studied via the Progymnasmata, a series of writing exercises designed to both model good writing and encourage creative thought. This begins near the same time grammar study is initiated. Logic is taught first through Socratic questioning, then through formal and material logic as the student is ready. Instead of seeing grammar, logic, and rhetoric as separate stages of development, they are seen as a continuum with studies in the three waxing and waning as a student matures.

Likewise, studies in the quadrivium continue throughout the years of schooling. We no longer send our children out into the world as young teens, so it makes sense that subjects earlier reserved for college study are now taught to children before they leave home. Thus, the second leg of trad classical ed is arithmetic and, later, the higher maths and the sciences (including music and art theory).

The third leg of trad classical ed is Classics. We study about the Greeks, the Romans, and the Christian societies formed as the influence of Rome retreated. One cannot learn a language in a vaccum. Language is a reflection of the values and mores of a people. The study of the one complements and reinforces the study of the other. This is the study that provides us with a chest, with heart. We learn the tenets of our religion and we learn from the people who created the highest works of art and literature in Western history. It also allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the study of the languages. Studying the culture helps with the study of the language and the study of the language helps with studying the culture. The two are inseperable. Here is where our focus should be, if we truly wish to master the trivium.

But, you may ask, what about U. S. (or whatever your country) history? What about State history? Don't we also need to know these things? Of course we do, but I advocate learning them incidentally. History of oneself is best learned by experiencing one's culture and community. Visit the historical sites in your area, talk to the older people in your community, take a vacation to Washington D. C. Cultivate your student's interest in his own history and you won't have to teach it. He will apply the tools of learning naturally to a subject that interests him. Our family reenacts several periods of history (American War for Independence, the Scottish Rising of 1745, WWII) and I can guarantee that a child will learn more history in one day at a historical site than in a year of history class, and he will enjoy it much more.

The Classics are our starting point. Once we have learned to apply the tools of learning to their proper subjects, we can move on and apply them to other things. After we have written cheria we can easily learn the five-paragraph essay. After we have learned Latin and Greek, modern languages are easy. With a mastery of classical literary references we can read Milton, Donne, or Shakespeare without footnote. Studying classical government informs us about modern government. By doing a few things well, we learn the other things we need to know along the way.

To duck, or not to duck

I know my description says that we run a small organic farm, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we are starting to run a small organic farm. We've only lived here for year and so far the only thing I've gotten growing is a small garden. My husband got laid off right when we moved in, so we are still struggling to get back to where we were. We live on 8 acres and only own a push mower. Our backyard is currently a nature preserve, entirely by accident.

So the opportunity has come up for us to acquire some Khaki Campbell ducks. We are still in the deciding phase on this. As we have 7 acres of nature preserve behind our house, we are concerned that the ducks will be eaten by predators before they have much of a chance to grow up. So, we are looking for low-cost portable fencing. The current thinking is to get some deer fence, some wooden stakes, and some 5 gallon buckets to fill with cement. We figure it will cost about $50 for the set up.

Then, the next question is do we really want ducks? We like duck meat, so that's good. I have, however, heard bad things about duck eggs. So, when I was in the city Thursday I bought some duck eggs at Whole Foods and we had them for breakfast this morning. Everyone thought they were good scrambled, but the fried eggs I made didn't go over so well. The kiddos thought they were too strong and hubby thought the yolks had no taste. (?!) I thought the yolks were definately thicker than chicken yolks, but I didn't think they were bad. So, it looks like the ducks are a go.

I have no idea where we're going to put them come winter, though. Anyone with good ideas about keeping ducks, let me know!

03 March, 2006

Traditional Classical Homeschool (part 1)

Okay, homeschoolers are a minority in this country. Classical homeschoolers are a minority of homeschoolers, and traditional classical a minority of that minority. So, I figure there are maybe a thousand of us in the whole country. Just as homeschooling is often misunderstood and classical homeschooling even more so, trad classical is about the most misunderstood of all. Here is my little, likely misguided, attempt at explaining what it is that we are about.

Most people these days are acquainted with homeschooling in general. Not everyone knows what classical homeschooling is, so that's where I'll start. There are two movements within Classical education (whether it be home, public or private), neo-classical and traditional classical. In general, classical education is education in the seven liberal arts. These arts consisted of the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy). They are called the liberal arts because the word liberal comes from the Latin libero, meaning "I free." The point of a liberal education is to free the student; to free him from his preconceptions, from his baser nature, from the constraints placed on him by class or station. A liberally educated person might be a ditch-digger, but his thoughts and feelings are higher than his circumstances. He is not swayed by the mob, he is not a sheep that can be led with impunity. He knows beauty when he sees it and it gladdens his heart.

Sounds good right? Sure, but how does one do that? For almost 3,000 years the answer was a traditional classical education, but sometime during the Edwardian age our conception of what an education should do changed. With WWI and the culmination of the industrial revolution, Western Civilization came to a turning point in education. Suddenly free-minded ditch-diggers weren't enough. We were running a global economy now and we needed workers to provide for our country's economic future. So, the emphasis in education from the ditch-digger on up to the political elite changed from freeing one from ignorance and ignobility to freeing one to earn as much money as possible and impress others with how big one's brain is. C. S. Lewis calls this "men without chests." Modern society is full of smart people and hard workers, but we have no heart.

Now, we are finally beginning to see the need for heart. We have no common cultural standards anymore, we are no longer E pluribus unum. We are simply a bunch of little subcultures trying to stay insulated and make a buck without offending anyone. Or while offending others, depending on your subculture. We are the subcultures; we don't have a culture anymore. We are so far down this path many of us don't even see the need for a common culture. We flounder in the shallows of our feelings, we can't swim well enough to get to anything of depth. We can't even remember how to teach swimming.

And herein lies the heart of my post. As classical educators, we see the need to teach the inner man, to create people with heart, but we are largely making up the methodolgy as we go along. In the early part of the last century, many Classicists were sounding the alarm against the change to what we would now call outcomes-based education. One of those voices was Dorothy L. Sayers. Her message was simple, the liberal arts have a place in the new curriculum. Miss Salyers saw the Trivium as a tool, rather than the path the ancients did.

Trivium comes from the Latin for "the three-fold path." It consisted of three main subjects, Grammar (as in Latin and Greek grammar), Logic or Dialectic (this is philosophical logic, not mathematical logic), and Rhetoric (both writing and oratory). Miss Sayers thought that these three subjects should be considered more a methodology of teaching than a course of study. It was to be a kind of parts-to-whole education. One would learn the terms and basic concepts (the grammar) of a subject, then learn how these things work together (the logic), and finally be able to produce original thought on the subject (the rhetoric).

Likewise, the student is seen as progressing through these stages as he ages. The elementary age (dare I say grammar school) student is seen as being in the grammar stage, the junior high student is logic stage, and the high school student and adult are in the rhetoric stage. Instruction in each stage is geared toward the student's trivium level. He is learning the grammar of math (basic operations) in the grammar stage, the logic (algebra) in the logic stage, and the rhetoric (geometry, trig, calculus, discrete math, etc.) in the rhetoric stage.

One studies history, science, mathematics, music, art, grammar, writing, religion, logic, foreign languages, geography, copywork, dictation, memory work, literature, and often some type of physical education. Work begins on most of these subjects sometime between the ages of 6-10, and each subject is studied in-depth, often with writing assignments for each of the core subjects (history and/or literature, science, grammar, religion, and even math occasionally). This is a rigorous education.

This is the brand of education that trad classicists label "neo-classical." It is a good, even a great, education. One reads the Great Books of Western Civilization and enters into the great discussion of history. One might even learn Latin or Greek, and is definately taught logic. The power of expression is emphasized and tools for writing and speaking are provided. It is also the education that is espoused in virtually every how-to guide published on classical ed for homeschoolers. It seeks to provide both a chest and an economically viable citizen or a great Christian apologist.

Reading a neo-classical homeschooling guide leaves us with questions. Is this truly a classical education as it was understood before 1900? Should economic viability/apologetics or a "chest" be the most important consideration? Can we manage to fit all that in? Should we try? If we need to pick and choose, what should we pick, and why? Stay tuned for the trad classical answers.....

02 March, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

Yesterday was our once monthly trip into the big city for groceries, with the added bonus of $100 from our tax return to stock up on staples. So, early yesterday morning I packed the kiddos into the station wagon and took hubby to work downtown and we started our excursion. Here I'd like to relate a few rules I have for grocery shopping:

  1. Ask the family what they'd like to have to eat, then plan meals accordingly. (This saves on having to be creative and having to listen to complaints.)
  2. Plan out your dinners in detail and at least have a general idea of breakfasts and lunches. It helps to have the family's schedule to look at so you can plan.
  3. Check the sale flyers for all the stores in your area. If you don't get them in the mail or the paper, you can find them on the store's website. Try to plan meals around the loss leaders.
  4. Make out a detailed list of what you need to buy, including the prices you expect to pay, and total it. (I use excel for this.)
  5. Only take cash to the stores. Leave the checkbook/credit cards behind. It's a lot easier to stay on budget if that is literally all you have.
  6. Leave a little room in the budget for price changes or special treats you wouldn't normally buy.

Let me now say that this week I broke every single rule on this list. As a result, we went over budget (not a huge concern because of the extra tax money) and I forgot about ten important items (like light bulbs and soap). On the upside, I got to Sam's at ten, right when they open, and was able to get a whole pile of reduced-for-quick-sale meat to stock the freezer with. Also, the kiddos were mostly good (an all day grocery excursion tires everyone out and makes us all cranky), so I count it as a success.

We did get the inevitable homeschooling questions when we hit Burger King (they have the biggest play area near where I shop). We had about 3 hours to kill until hubby got off work, so we saw a lot of people come and go. I had Mary bring her Greek and Latin to work on, and there were the inevitable homeschooling questions. I am by no means an expert, but I try to help out where I can. Last month it was book recommendations to a mom who was considering homeschooling her 3yo when he is old enough. This month it was curriculum recommendations for a bi-lingual mom who wanted to afterschool her kids and step-kids in Spanish. I speak Spanish, but I'm not using any curriculum with the kiddos right now, so I directed her over to the Latino/Spanish board at WTM.

Yet more kool-aid

Tracy the Toyota auto-worker from Kentucky makes yet another kool-aid reference over on Crunchy Cons.

01 March, 2006

Pass the Kool-aid

What is it with Jim Jones references these days? I haven’t seen anything about him for a long time, and suddenly I see kool-ade references everywhere. There are a couple of forums I read (until this week anyway) and one forum has been accusing the other forum of being a group of “kool-ade drinkers.” The next place I hear it is on Sean Hannity’s radio show. Now, I’m not a huge Hannity fan, so maybe he has always called liberal sycophants kool-ade drinkers, but it’s news to me. Normally I don’t listen to Hannity; his voice grates on my nerves and I don’t have a lot of call to be listening to talk radio at 9 pm. But, the kiddos were prolific in their messes yesterday and hubby was gone at a meeting, so I sent the wee ones off to bed and Mary and I cleaned and listened.

He had Al Sharpton on, and what I listened to of the interview was interesting. Once you get past Hannity and Sharpton trying to talk over each other, there were actually a couple of nuggets of wisdom in there. Sharpton said he would be willing to go with a school voucher plan, if vouchers were available to all students. Which is similar to what I’ve been proposing for a while. I say reduce the property taxes (those renting get a credit based on the property taxes of their landlord) by 70% of anyone not in the public school system and provide a scholarship for private school for low income families, similar to the way Pell Grants work, but more generous (in terms of the percentage of expenses covered). Then you don’t have the public money -> religious education problems you get with vouchers, everyone can pick their education, and those who opt out of the system aren’t forced to pay for something they aren’t using. I keep the refund at 70% because we do have an obligation to make sure that every child has a chance to learn.

In case you can’t tell from my education plan, our family has opted out of the public schools. My oldest, Mary, is the only one of school age (she’s eight), but we plan on homeschooling all three of them when they are old enough. We homeschool classically, and by that I mean traditional classical, not neo-classical. What the heck am I talking about? I’m working on a post on trad classical and will try to have it up soon. I also will be posting some homeschool and trad classical related links and a list of the books I’m reading in a bit, maybe this evening, since hubby will be at yet another meeting. (Actually he is at the local gaming store playing Romans vs. Germans tonight.)