Writing with Style

How come I got away with writing “Don’t Study Latin” without getting into trouble? And how come it was so darned popular? (I wrote it for the Homeschool Channel almost a week ago, and it shot up to first place for most-read article; and it stayed in first place for days.) Since I’m a creative writing teacher, I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to teach you a few tricks about writing.

Most great journalism (especially in newspapers) consists of taking a stand on a controversial subject. You see, people from both sides are interested. How to take a stand without offending the other side is a delicate matter. I chose humor to diffuse the situation. Every time I hurled an insult or a rebuke, I hit myself with a tomato. How could anybody be mad at me? I already had my comeupance. You can’t hit a person who has already been hit. At least it’s not nice if you do.

I also complimented the opponent. This has to be genuine, and it was for me because I confessed that I myself had a classical bent. I told the reader that she was a “thinking person” and that she had chosen “a better, higher education.” Letting the person know that you are on the same side helps to break down walls.

Lastly, I gave two logical alternatives. One was the study of Spanish, which I presented as the best option, since you learned the Latin roots that way anyway. The other was a concession that they could learn a classical language that was actually still spoken, and that would deepen their walk with God.

But the most important thing to me when writing this article was to stop people from making a decision based on sinful motivation. Not all classical homeschoolers have sinful motivation when choosing to study Latin. Some of them have thought about it and prayed about it, and studying Latin is the right decision for them. But after schmoozing with homeschoolers for a decade, I’ve seen that many (if not most) classical homeschoolers do Latin as a matter of pride. If I see sin, I will call people on their sin, so help me God, even if I lose sales. Even if I tick people off. I took a chance. I hurled myself off a cliff, so to speak, to see what would happen. And the result was better than I imagined. People are being set free from a weight of bondage that they thought they were under. And for this reason, I consider my article a success.

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5 Responses to “Writing with Style”

  1. Good for you for taking that chance!

  2. Teaching latin, or not, must be a quite controversial subject. And I can see how it would be pridebased.
    Also giving Spanish as a substitute is very good idea. A good language to know also.

  3. Anthea says:

    I loved both these articles about Latin. Some home educators relinquish the freedom to choose their own path, and get swept up in the latest curriculum craze. It’s good to have a seasoned home educator point out a ‘more excellent way”.

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