Connotations, Definitions, and Inferences

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Words have different connotations, which can cause miscommunication. For instance, if I were to say, "Would you leave a comment on my blog, please," that could be taken as a genuine cry for help or as a mean/whiny demand for attention. (Please feel no need to express which you think I tend to employ <smile>)

Words often have different primary definitions for people as well. For example, if I say, "It's time for bed!" I think, 'Hurray, we get to go to sleep,' but Brittany thinks, 'He's rushing off to leave me laying awake and alone all night.'

It's a significant area of tension in our relationship.

But even knowing of these different approaches to words, sometimes I'm still thrown off when I read other blogs. Today, while catching up on Pamela's blog, I read the following:

I don't have all the books we need [for this semester of school]. I do have the curriculum and all the teacher things, but not the books.

I re-read the sentence because there had to be a typo. How in the world can you have "curriculum" and your required teaching tools and not have books?

And then it hit me: Some people define "curriculum" in a completely different way than I do.

Shocking. I know. But for me, with my Sonlight background, "curriculum" is a pile of books. Sure, curriculum also includes the science kits and the Instructor's Guides, but Sonlight's curriculum is books.

And this is the first time that I've been able to understand why places like Ambleside bother me so much: They claim to be "free curriculum" without giving you anything more than a schedule and a booklist. "That's not curriculum!" I retort.

Yet, for some people, it is. That's their definition. The connotation of curriculum for many families is the method/approach/system they will use as they educate their children. And I can see that. In fact, saying that we're a "Sonlight family" means exactly that. So it's really not that Ambleside provides great schedules and resources for so many families that gets under my skin. That's not it at all. Rather, it's the inference that can be drawn when you read about "free curriculum" that bugs me.

See, if you can get "free curriculum" at this site or you can pay for your curriculum at this site... why would you pay for curriculum at all? That inference bothers me because that's comparing apples to oranges (to borrow the colloquialism). One is an outline with recommended resources, the other is a package of books and materials. The inference is all wrong.

If we were comparing, say, Office to Open Office... well, then we could make such an inference: They are very, very similar--just one is open source and free and the other is not.

I guess I don't really have anything else to say about this. I just made a connection that I hadn't quite been able to put into words before now. Thanks for reading.

The vocabulary lesson is now over. The words we learned today are:

Connotation
Definition
Inference
Colloquialism
and, um... linebacker

"You know, education at its finest."

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

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