Last year, I discovered for sure that I wanted to teach Neil myself through the middle-school years and possibly beyond. Since I’m not doing this through a public school program or through an umbrella or charter school, the California State Department of Education requires me to register the school as a small private school. And this meant I had to name our school.
I could have given the school a simple name, like The Bickford Academy, but I wanted a name that showed that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary school. The educational philosophy I use is classical education, though since I prefer well-written books over textbooks, and there’s an outdoorsy side to it, it’s a little Charlotte Mason, too. So my ideal name related to classical Greek stories, and implied a challenge of heroic proportions.
Peter’s the one who came up with the name Charybdis and Scylla Academy. It’s named after two sea monsters on either side of a passage Odysseus had to sail through. You can interpret the story to understand Charybdis as a huge dangerous whirlpool (or a series of whirlpools) and Scylla as either a spiky rock or a massive kraken. Odysseus had to think hard and move fast to make it through, when most couldn’t or didn’t dare. I loved the name, because Neil is going to take on academic challenges which I know he wouldn’t face in most schools, yet for which he’s quite capable. It has the additional benefit of being an on-the-spot classical knowledge and spelling test for anyone I mention the school to. Whether you know the story behind the name or not, you know it’s not a school for slackers.
I’m also lucky enough to have some friends who have Ph.D.’s in classical studies. I told them about Charybdis and Scylla Academy and asked them to help me come up with a motto for the school. Originally, the one I liked the best was “Aut disce aut discede” (learn or leave), because it sounded serious. But now I’m leaning towards “Non scholae, sed vitae discimus” (we learn not for school but for life.) At first, I though it sounded a little lax, like Neil would be learning how to play blackjack instead of mastering calculus, but maybe it is more appropriate. After all, he will be getting an education not to please teachers and standardized test readers, but one that will give him a solid foundation as a citizen as well as a scholar.
What do you think is the better motto? While I’m at it, here are some of the other proposed mottos:
Animis opibusque parati (prepared in minds and resources)
Plenus venter non studet libenter (A full belly doesn’t like studying)
Because there’s no place like Homer
I like the sound of “Non scholae, sed vitae discimus.” I think it’s very true to the spirit of a classical education, and captures the spirit of creating a well-rounded individual who is able to take on all challenges of life.