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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Uniform or totem?

We currently belong to three learning groups.

One we joined because we just moved into the area, and thought it would help ease the kids into various activities. Unfortunately, while the group in question has some interesting activities, said activities directly conflict with everything else we do. And I have to say it, this group makes me feel older than I am, as if I should get myself a walker and a Rascal cart. They are great women, great families, but by comparison, they are old enough to be my daughters, some my very young daughters. It is not their problem that I am older than they are. We did get our Girl Scout troop through this organization, and I'm grateful for that.

One group we joined because it has activities in our kids' age group that do meet our schedule. Three of the mothers are my age or older, raising grandchildren.
It reminds me of the groups back in the 1980s and 1990s, casual and congenial, with kids and adults of all ages interacting together. We love this group, the activities, the people. We try to join up with them whenever we can, which can be difficult, as many of the activities are over the border in the next state. We do live close to the border, but sometimes what is an hour away to these folks is an hour and a half to us.

The third group is more of a think tank and co-op than a traditional home education group.Our children were invited to join based upon test scores through a summer enrichment program. It turns out our children are not the way they are because they live with two people old enough to be their grandparents. They are allegedly academically gifted and talented (as the person who supervises chores, I am not always so sure of this). Those talents not only shine in the academic subjects of mathematics and language usage, but in ability to originate and elaborate. It would explain why our dear Baby would, when bored to tears at her old school, take a "bathroom sabbatical" every so often, wandering the halls in search of subject matter more interesting than what was being taught in the second grade.

The think tank has some, but not all, of the trappings of private schools. One of these is uniform pieces worn to meetings. There is a suggested dress uniform, with plaid skirts for the girls, ties for everybody, and dress shoes. Children in Grammar wear a different uniform than the young people in Logic and Lower Rhetoric, while Upper Rhetoric has a dress code. Most meetings and events require a basic uniform of navy, khaki or colored trousers with belts, polo shirts, sweaters when necessary, and gym shoes.

A big part of the reason for these uniforms is community relations. Different corporations and foundations contribute to the education of the scholars, as they are known, directly through classes and internship as well as financially for each scholar. The theory is that corporate offices will not want to give time and money to a bunch of scruffy kids who looked as if they just climbed out from under rocks.

I have to admit, while I do not care if my children have pink hair or sport fake tattoos, the uniforms serve me well. They seem to send a symbol to concerned relatives and friends that yes, indeedy do, the kids ARE engaged in education, even though they are not sitting in a classroom from 8:00 AM until 2:45 PM with 24 other children of the same age and one adult. The dress uniforms make nice photographs to pass out at family events. The trousers look good and wear well, whether we go to the opera backstage or to the grocery store. The various pieces match no matter the mood of the wearer.

It does not always quiet my mother's efforts to get my children into school, especially the parish school she thinks they should attend. Catholic schools in our new area average $7,000 a year for two children for parishioners. Some offer some, but not all of the classes and activities we obtain through the think tank and learning group. The one my mother prefers boasts that it offers Spelling as a subject. All "extra" classes, which includes Art, Music and Spanish, are offered after school and cost more money beyond the $7,000. While I would not fault a parent who preferred it for their children, given the circumstances, the Mister and I will not send our children there any time soon. The fact that we are talking about a professor and his educated wife who has worked in Catholic schools cuts little ice with my mother. If it isn't happening in what she considers school, learning might not take place.

The coordinating outfits that comprise the uniform do lend us a legitimacy that we might not possess if we just let the kids wear Goodwill 24/7, which is what they wear when they are not wearing the uniforms. I don't know if I like the fact that clothes represent our educational choices, but I do like that the kids look good.

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