I'm still in the thick of midterms but my brain needs to stretch a little bit outside of the corrals of schoolwork...
My first semester at Franciscan, my Honors professor was Dr. S. Dr. S had a rather unique view of eduation--he thought that people should learn things. Novel, isn't it? He didn't really care at all about your ability to memorize and regurgitate facts. The only test was an oral final, and conversations with my classmates indicate that he gave each student a question based on a point he or she had made in class. Basically, you are expected to think if you take a class with Dr. S, but he does not rigidly compartmentalize you into a "right" way of thinking.
It was in Dr. S's class that I gained my love for the Classics--Homer and Sophocles and Plato and even dear silly Aristophanes. (Don't read him if you can't wade through locker-room humor in order to get to profundity.) None of these authors were Christian (especially not Mr. They Acted This in Respectable Theaters?), and so I had no exposure to them in my uber-Catholic highschool homeschool program. I had never heard of the playwrights, Plato was only a name (strung together with Socrates and Aristotle as if the three were simply extensions of each other, a horrible mischaracterization), and I had read The Iliad only because I have a best friend who calls herself the Greek Geek.
The point of this somewhat rambling post is that I don't at all like the idea first that children should be given textbooks for things like literature and history--bland, dead things, those textbooks. Second, I don't like the idea that they should be given only books that agree with a particular ideology, whether secular or Christian. I have it on good authority that it is almost impossible to read Aquinas unless you have first read Aristotle; the same probably goes for Augustine and the Platonists. We get our religious heritage from the Jews, and so we read the Old Testament (a book which is quite scandalous in its own right in many places...). We get our intellectual heritage from the Greeks and Romans, yet how many people these days have actually read The Odyssey rather than simply reading an oversimplified children's version of the story. How many people have even heard of The Orestia? I don't have the statistics that would answer that question. I just know that my kids are going to know all of those titles before they leave home for college.