Mall Santa Photos: Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Rose and Walsh peeking compressed

Last year Rose and Walsh peeking around the corner to see Santa Claus. I think this was the Mall of Georgia Santa. It was actually a pretty nice wait and they were excited about peeking.

Mom on the set compressed

Mom trying to get the kids set up on Santa's lap. The baby was not happy even though the Santa seemed very nice.

The baby got her blanket and stopped crying, but no smile. A good one of Santa and Walsh. OK one of Rose.

The baby got her blanket and stopped crying, but no smile. A good one of Santa and Walsh. OK one of Rose.

We took these photo last year when the kids went to see Santa Claus. I haven’t unearthed the official photo yet this year. I always like my photos better than the official one.

My husband found this Web site called I can’t decide if they think the Santas are questionable or if it’s just that all the photos are terrible because the kids are making crazy faces or crying. (You can even make your Christmas card out of one of these photos if the spirit moved you.)

When we were little we ALWAYS went to the downtown Rich’s to see Santa. (Rich’s was an original Georgian department store that was eventually sold to Federated and became Macy’s.) We would get very dressed up, see Santa, have lunch at Rich’s on one of the bridges and then ride the Pink Pig on the roof. (More on the old Pink Pig vs the new one in a later blog.)

They hid Santa away in a room so you couldn’t see him until you made your way through the long line that wound through multiple corridors. It was all very mysterious and wonderful. (The hidden Santa also probably cut down the wait because they probably had more than one Santa working at a time.)

Every year until I was probably around 10 or 12 we went to the Rich’s Santa Claus to have our pictures made. The last two photos were taken without my older brother. He did indulge my mother several years after he “knew.”

We’ve taken our children every year since they were born but somehow my mother’s photos are more charming. Maybe because I liked the experience at Rich’s better or maybe because now I know how stressful it is to get children to smile on the lap of a man they don’t know.

I think the nicest thing about the photos is to see the passage of time. But you have to be organized and have the photos sequentially in a frame or book to truly achieve that effect. My very organized mother has two large frames with our Santa photos in chronological order. She hangs them in the family room every year and I do love to look at them.

One of my friend’s from high school recently posted on Facebook that her son just figured out the truth about Santa. He thought about it for a couple of days and then said to her, “So I’ve just been sitting on some old man’s lap at the mall all of these years?”

It is creepy if you think about it that way.

So here are the questions for today:

Do you take your kids to sit on Santa’s lap? Do you think it’s a little odd?

Who’s your favorite Santa and why?

Do you pay for the mall photo?

Do you take your own photos while they are there?

Do you post them all together in some chronological format?

What have been your best and worst Santa experiences?

48 comments Add your comment

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 11th, 2009
11:04 am

I am having some publishing issues — I know my apostrophes in my headline are pointing the wrong way but they won’t fix and it’s making me mad! I also know the story is breaking weird at the top but I can’t fix that either.


December 11th, 2009
11:31 am

I honestly don’t remember ever taking a picture with Santa when I was little and I have never seen pictures of this at my parents house now that I think about it. Maybe we went but they never bought (or took any of their own) of the pictures. hmmm…. Anyway, as far as my son, last year he was almost one so he just sat there looking at Santa with curiosity and we even got him to smile. We went to the oulets up on 400 and they had a great Santa and you could get a CD and prints right away. We bought both. This year, as he is almost 2, no way. We were at this little fair in Cumming and there was a Santa and Mrs. Clause. He cried and threw a fit when I tried to put him on Santa’s lap, so we ended up having to get in the picture with him. He still does not look happy. We only bought one sheet but at least we have something. But I’m going to give it a shot again next year. I think making a little display or photo book of some sort with them in order is a wonderful idea! Every kid who celebrates Christmas should go to see Santa in my opinion.

ps. cute kids!


December 11th, 2009
11:42 am

Theresa, if you can edit code try using ’ for the apostrophes.


December 11th, 2009
11:44 am

Oops. It translated the code I typed in (duh!). Try &rsquo semi-colon.


December 11th, 2009
11:47 am

I took my son every year up to now. I neither love nor hate the mall santa. I don’t think its odd. I don’t take my own photos.

I have paid for the photos. I have never been much of a scrap booker.

Nothing interesting has ever occurred during mall santa trips.


December 11th, 2009
11:47 am

Yes, for 7 years we have Santa pictures of the boy, only 6 for the girl..Last year, she wouldn’t sit on his lap, because she was scared of his gloves..Don’t know why..We usually go to Town Center Mall or Cumberland Mall..Yes, we buy the mall pictures..No, we don’t take our own while there..I just put them up in the house whereever..


December 11th, 2009
12:12 pm

My son is almost 3. We’ve seen the Perimeter Santa every year. Year 1 my son didn’t know what was going on, so he was fine. Year 2 he knew – and had a fit. This year, we all had fun.

We sent the picture to Shutterfly and got Christmas cards made (the folding kind) and are sending them out. We love it.


December 11th, 2009
12:23 pm

We are heading out today to take pics with Santa. We got to Discover Mills off 85. Great Santa, rarely a long wait. They have the pics available on USB drive so you can print copies yourself.

I remember my sister and I going to get a picture with Santa when we were teenagers. Love the picture of us together.

As far as babies and Santa, it’s almost not worth it going when they are between 1 and 2 years old (up to 3 if they frighten easily). The whole experience will probably turn out to be frustrating for the parents and not enjoyable for the kid. Infants are fine, they don’t know the difference; 3 and up probably want to see Santa. But the 1’s and 2’s just don’t understand why they need to sit on this strange person’s lap and you are unlikely to get a worthwhile picture.


December 11th, 2009
12:24 pm

We love the pink pig! I take my kids every year- it is cheesy but a tradition!


December 11th, 2009
1:02 pm

We’ve done Greenbriar Mall for many years. My kids always enjoyed it.


December 11th, 2009
1:22 pm

I always get annoyed with the people who seem to think that the Phipps Plaza Santa is the only “real” Santa – I am sure most us are aware of the uproar this year when Phipps charged a nominal fee ($10 IF you did not purchase the Santa pictures there) for a reservation, so I will not rehash that – though I did think it was a good idea.

Anyway, most malls nowadays have “real” Santas, and we always loved the guy at North Dekalb Mall as we lived in Stone Mountain during the time that our kids “believed”. Those pictures are now part of our Christmas decor, and it is interesting to see not only how the kids grew older, but to see how the same Santa aged, too.

I am on the downhill side of 50 now, but I still remember, as an Atlanta native, going to Rich’s to ride the Pink Pig; I was so glad that my kids were able to experience that, too, at least until they were about 5 or 6, and that is when they became too big (size wise) to get into those little cars. But once they hit 12 or 13 they STILL wanted to go and “try” to squeeze in and ride! What memories!!!!

Now they are both 6′4″ and 6′6″ and still like to talk about those days (at least last year they did – they are not home for this Christmas, yet, though we are looking forward to their arriving in the next week)!


December 11th, 2009
2:09 pm

The North Dekalb Mall Santa is great isn’t he. I used to work at Rich’s when I was in school and enjoyed seeing him. He’s the closest thing to a “Real Santa” as far as appearance.


December 11th, 2009
2:14 pm

Every year we go to the Lights at Lake Lanier. At the end of the drive, there’s Santa’s workshop and this is, BY FAR THE BEST SANTA EVER!! We go on a weeknight when it’s not too crowded and he actually spends time with the kids, asks them how good they’ve been, and what would they like.

They also have a very cute thing they do: the “elves” asks the kids names while they are waiting in line and when it’s their turn they say: “Santa, [kid's name] are here” So Santa says, well hello [kid's name] i’m so glad to see you again!.
I thought it was a cute gimmik that makes things even more magical for them!


December 11th, 2009
2:15 pm

I wonder if it is the same guy – probably not since my kids are now 24 and 21!


December 11th, 2009
2:16 pm

Before Thanksgiving, my niece and I along with the 3 and the 5 year old were in Phipps Plaza. We were just standing around when Santa walked by. He stopped and spoke to the two little ones and they were all smiles. This mall Santa is the top.


December 11th, 2009
2:45 pm

We take our girls to see the Santa at Marietta Square. We take our own pictures and usually purchase a photo ornament. He is a great Santa and takes time to talk to the kids. The line usually isn’t too bad. And, the kids can play while we wait.


December 11th, 2009
2:55 pm

mom2alex&max – I love Lanier’s Santa….he is the nicest and I have seen first hand what you are talking about. We do the lights in the back of a friends pick up truck..and we always go to Santa Land, see Santa, and roast a few marshmallows……


December 11th, 2009
3:26 pm

I love the tradition of going to see Santa! I always did it as a little girl, but as my mom said -the mall Santas in the 70s often looked drunk or retarded or both! We had a great experience with the Perimeter Mall Santa when my oldest was 1, but I decided last year to find out what all the hoopla around the Phipps Santa is about. I still don’t know! It was NOT a great experience even though the Santa was very nice. Our 2 month old is cute, but our 2 year old INSISTED that I also be in the picture, and then they didn’t send us the pix until AFTER Christmas! At Perimeter we received them on the spot.

This year we’re headed to Lenox and for a ride on the Pink Pig afterward. I would like to make this a tradition, but the 3 year old is already balking. Hopefully when he sees other kids in front of him sitting on Santa’s lap, he’ll be ok with it. If not, at least we’ll have a cute one of our 1 year old. I will NOT be in the photo again this year!

I will say that the week before we saw the Phipps Santa last year, we were there for a movie, and he stopped in the mall and chatted with our 2 year old for awhile. It was so nice! At that point my child was FINE talking to him -but not sitting on his lap a week later!


December 11th, 2009
4:03 pm

After the BIG rucus made about the Santas at Stonecrest Mall, I gave up on the Santa photos. I was totally outdone when they had a Black and a White santa on different days of the week so parents could pick the color of the Santa they wanted their kids picture with. I was done with the photos after that and haven’t looked back since.

Now, I just have the holiday photo done with the two of them. It works out fine especially when they are fighting and they still have to pose together! LOL.


December 11th, 2009
4:23 pm

Cute pictures Theresa. I was just looking at several we have of our own kids ( from over 15 years ago) and thinking how quickly the time has FLOWN! We did not have a specific Santa but now have a collection of various photos that we have in frames and take out with the decorations. I love to remember the various stages in their lives.

THIS IS AN OFF TOPIC QUESTION and I am just wondering what y’all think:

My daughter is a Senior and in her 3rd year of Latin. This is not a class for struggling students and you do not sign up to take the class if you are a C or below student. Three years of language looks better on your application for a University. This is why she chose to take it.

Anyway, she has been mentioning that the teacher is not TEACHING but giving them packets of things to do. Her grade is a low B and I am not one to mediate and help her study…how could I as I know NOTHING ABOUT IT? She is 17 and needs to get herself ready for college.

She just came home with an F on the latest test and this may bring her grade to a C…the first one she has ever had, in her life. I would usually just tell her to take her lumps but she told me the teacher said today,”You all are not studying…over half the class failed this recent test. I am not happy. Do not get your parents to e-mail me either.”

To me, when over half the class failed a 3rd year Latin test, something smells fishy. Anyone else?
Just wondering if it is just me.


December 11th, 2009
5:33 pm

We took Little E to see Santa at the Mall of GA when she was 6 mos and did not know what the heck was going on. The picture of the two of them is priceless and right out of a magazine…..they were looking right at each other and I cry every time I look at that picture. The last 3 years we have taken her to the Santa at the Lawrenceville Courthouse (the official photos are only $5 and you can take all of your own pics that you want) and she has had mixed reactions. Last year she wouldn’t even look at him. This year she assures me that she will sit on his lap and tell him what she wants for Christmas…..we shall see!!!


December 11th, 2009
7:04 pm

mjg – I agree that if too many students fail then it means something didn’t get communicated. As a teacher, I try to figure out what piece of info they were all missing by reviewing what common questions were missed. Not saying that it can’t be the student’s fault. My husband allows his science students to bring a single page of notes (front and back) to his midterm. His student’s did poorly but they (A) all missed different problems, (B) didn’t even attempt some of the problems and (C) didn’t ask any questions or try to get a little help during the test. So, it seems the material was covered, they just did a really poor job of making up their cheat sheet (which I think indicates a lack of studying.)

Hopefully, your daughter’s teacher will allow them some way to make up the missed problems or will curve based on the number of kids who failed it.

new stepmom

December 11th, 2009
8:36 pm

MJG, I think that at least warrants a phone call to the teacher to investigate a little further. If your daughter was a slacker, it would be a different story….

Theresa, great pics. I will do the Santa thing for the first time next year. I have already been keeping a mental log of the Santas that friends recommend. I want to do the Phipps experience at least once, but maybe not the first year. I have heard of families at our church that have gone to Phipps every year and have a visual time line of their kids growing, which I think is neat. We will make a decision closer to time next year. I am still overwhelmed trying to register (my wedding registery was far more fun and less overwhelming) and take care of myself. I will have 10-12 more weeks of bedrest at least and it is so hard to stay still!!!!


December 11th, 2009
8:48 pm

So far, Cumberland Mall, Perimeter, and Phipps have Santas that make no mention of “Christmas”. That’s how far our society has sunk. Seems they’re afraid of offending anyone. Who sees Santa who is offended by Christmas? It’s the Federal freakin’ Holiday people! This political correctness needs to die.


December 11th, 2009
9:50 pm

I take my daughter to the Phipps Santa every year and he is the BEST! I love him personally and the setting. I like the look of the santa at Lenox better, but the background is HORRIBLE!

As to the above remark, the Phipps Santa always tells us each year, “God Bless You,” and even wears a pin that says the same thing! Every year, he mentions the Lord at our visit. He is a genuine good guy!


December 12th, 2009
12:04 am

We really enjoyed going to Discover Mills today to see Santa. I like the setting (kinda folksy) and the Santa is really great. He was very personable with all 3 of my kids (5,9, 13) and took his time with them. They’ve had the same Santa for at least the last 3 years. The best part though was … no line. I mean absolutely No line at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon.


December 12th, 2009
1:53 am

It seems like the mall santa photos really stink. My oldest enjoyed seeing him until she got too old. The youngest doesn’t know what to think yet. My photographer had the “real” Santa in his studio. I am going to pick up the pictures the first of next week. We’ll see how those turn out. I’m betting better than the mall Santas.

Anybody have any experience with the Santa being a pervert? My best friend and I had an issue many years ago (probably 8). The Santa made an inappropriate comment regarding my friend. Just curious if this has happened to anyone else.


December 12th, 2009
7:00 am

wow theresa that was exactly my family’s experience….downtown rich’s-all the reindeer…santa…lunch on the bridge…and dont forget santas secret shop…remember that? where you (only kids) could go in and the had sections of gifts-mother-daddy-sister-brother–etc..and they had adults in there to help with your money allotment and selections..what fun that was….and yes the great old pink pig….and the lighting of the tree at richs…my much loved grandmother was the credit manager at richs until she retired so we always got to have lunch with her–that made the day even better!! oh the good old days lol….if i think about it yeah it can seem weird-the whole aspect of having your kid sitting on the lap of some man no one knows lol….i mean really–think about it…its just such a commonpace thing parents do..take your kids to see santa…i dont think people REALLY think about it that way.

MJG-i would definately call or email the teacher..i would call…harder to ignore a call than an email. if over half the class scored badly then i would say something wasnt taught wel enough. i taught in a college setting for 2 years and i would have been mortified if over half of any of my classes failed or scored lower than normal on anything. that is poor teaching and i would take my opinion as far up as i had to. this is her senior year and it is an important one for her grades on entering college. no would not sit quietly for that one.


December 12th, 2009
8:04 am

MJG — I do not claim to have a good handle on the school system. However, I think you would be right to encourage your child (even accompany her) to the administrators office to voice her concerns–with her proof of course. If the class all failed, then the grade book she be reviewed and the teacher should be monitored. It is more likely the teacher doesn’t want the emails because they do not want to be bothered/questioned etc.

Your right your daughter should be learning to do for herself. However, this is a good opportunity to guide her in standing up and questioning the teacher. In University there were a few times the class as a whole had to bring professors into question b/c we weren’t learning.

Theresa–did you dress up & match the kids in their photos on purpose?! Do you do that often? The kids look great!

I do take my kids to see Santa. They seem to like the idea and I put all Christmas Past out on display during the holiday season. We usually buy the photo disk. I have always felt it was tacky and wrong to take your own photos, especially if you don’t buy theirs.

"Santa" Bob

December 12th, 2009
9:53 am

Thanks for the memories this morning of Rich’s Christmas tree and the “pink pig”! as I get ready to get in the “chair” at the Mall this morning to assist you iin making your child’s visit to “Santa” a positive experience. Yes——– I am a Mall Santa at a major Mall in NC for the past 2 seasons! First let me say “Thank you” for letting us share your children’s smiles and excitement. There is nothing better than to see a child running to your lap and screaming “Santa Clause” with their arms outstreached to be picked up. We really do at this location try to get you the “best photo” possible with your children. Some times the long wait in line (today here 1 1/2 to 2 hours) makes it very hard on the kids and parents. Actually on everyone. Just a reminder to you all. This location opened on November 7th with “no” lines. Today begins the 2 weeks of the “crazies”. Long lines, sometimes parents that are less than “Adult” in their behavior. Most of us “Santa’s” work 7 days a week. Today I will spend 9 hours in the Majic Purple Chair. 3 hours at a time with no break. Yes, it is hard on Santa also. Most physical and yet rewarding job I have ever had! Some 500 plus kids will pass through my lap from 10am to 9pm tonight, I will be exhausted and yet will have some additional warm memories of your childrem and their smiles. For this I am truefully thankful. Hopefully some time in the future I will be at one of the Mall’s in Atlanta (my home town) and will have a chance to meet many of you!

Merry Christmas!
“Santa” Bob


December 12th, 2009
9:59 am

I display all of my son’s pics with Santa on the plate rack that goes around my diningroom. North Point had a great Santa years ago. The first year the mall was open, my then 3 y/o and I happened to be at the mall the night Santa arrived. It was a lot of fun. We went back year after year until it caught on and got too crowded. Haven’t seen a mall Santa in a lot of years. Nice memories, though. Back then, Santa arrived at Kroger in a giant shopping cart and the elves parachuted in. Lots of fun! Santa at Macys on 34th Street in NYC is an experience. Love this time of year.


December 12th, 2009
10:03 am

I display all of my son’s pics with Santa along the plate rack that goes around my diningroom. Years ago, North Point had a great Santa. My then 3 y/o and I happened to be at the mall when Santa arrived. Such fun. We went back each year until the idea caught on and it got too crowded. Have not seen a mall Santa in years. Nice memories, though. Seeing Santa at Macys at 34th Street is an event. Love this time of the year.


December 12th, 2009
10:04 am


December 12th, 2009
10:11 am

SANTA BOB….thanks for sharing and for all you do to enhance the dreams of children at Christmas!


December 12th, 2009
11:12 am

MJG: I agree with the other posters and suggest you contact the teacher, then the school if the answer is not satisfactory. My son had a similar story regarding AP Physics. My husband and I were quite surprised to learn that our stellar student was not completing and turning in assignments. Apparently, there was a personality conflict and he did not like the teacher, nor her teaching methods. Tough lesson for him, b/c in life, you will not always like your boss. That does not mean you don’t go to work or not perform to the best of your abilities. He picked up the pace and did “okay” for his standards, over the second half of the school year, passed the class and did well on the AP test. You should have heard some of the tales he told us. I think he had a serious case of “senioritis” in his junior year.


December 12th, 2009
4:01 pm

Sorry Santa Bob, I didn’t mean to inadvertantly insult you. I apparently am not seeing such nice Santas as yourself. You sound like a really cool Santa. I live in North Georgia and visit a mall in Tennessee. Actually, haven’t been in a long time. I don’t particularly like the quality of the prints. In the past the children have just wanted to sit on Santa’s lap and tell them what they want. Usually, when they realize that you are not paying for pictures, they will look away and not be as friendly with the kids. Pretty sad, in my opinion. Thanks for keeping the spirit of Santa alive in this day and age. Merry Christmas!


December 12th, 2009
5:25 pm

For MJG, Latin is a language that requires a LOT of memorization. My son only took it for two years, but the teacher only concentrated instruction on how to conjugate verbs. It did seem to be a largely self taught class, but there was no emphasis on speaking Latin (where an instructor’s help would be necessary), only being able to read it. The third year class was largely translating the Iliad, so he decided not to take it. He did get A’s in both Latin 1 and honors Latin 2, but it meant hours of memorization on his part.

I think there might be some truth to what the teacher is saying.


December 12th, 2009
6:29 pm

We always went to the Phipps Santa — for a LONG time — 16 years! At one point, it just got to be a tradition and a joke — the last year, I never dreamed that the kids would miss it, but they are the ones that asked when we were “going to see Santa,” so off we went! We always went first thing in the evening, and then we’d enjoy the decorations, and then go out for a nice dinner. So, I have 15 years of photos, and, more importantly, 15 years of video!! (Which I need to get burned to a CD). We literally stopped going when Ray Bryan, the Santa that we visited at Phipps, died in 2006.

MJG: Keep it in perspective and let the Latin crapola go. She already has good choices for college, and the difference between a B and a C isn’t going to matter to the big picture. She’s not in the running for valedictorian (I don’t think?!) It really, really, really doesn’t matter at this point :-D

Both of mine took honors Latin in high school — son for four years, daughter for three. Her senior year, the advisor was having conniptions because my daughter wanted to take AP Chem instead of Latin IV, insisting that colleges “wanted to see 4 years of a foreign language”. I told her that this was probably my daughter’s last chance to take chemistry, and if she was interested and wanted to challenge herself that way, that’s the way it was going to be, and we’d take our chances on that 4th year. She got into the school of her choice, with a little extra on top of the HOPE, too, so Latin sure didn’t make or break her — it won’t make or break your daughter, either.

Latin is VERY different from Spanish or French — no oral component, and a lot of just sheer memorization, some Latin writings and Roman history. She really does need to be spending about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes a day on it, just going over the rote memorization. The teacher is probably trying to get them ready for self-directed study in college with the packets.

Be that as it may — if your daughter is worried about it, SHE should be the one to talk to the teacher to see where her weaknesses are and what she can do to improve (not “you’re teaching it wrong!”). If she doesn’t like the answer, then she (and perhaps some other students) can go to the department head or assistant principal for curriculum, etc. Teach her how to work the system, because this time next year, she’ll have a semester of college under her belt, and she needs to learn not to be hesitant about approaching teachers/professors if she finds herself struggling in a class.

Wendy Petty

December 13th, 2009
10:58 pm

We just had the worst experience with a mall santa. Apparently, there is a rule that you can only take one photo per family with santa. After taking one with my youngest (six years), he said our turn was over and wouldn’t even let my other daughter sit on his lap. I said that I would delete my photo so I could do a group shot with all of the children. He said no and stood up and starting yelling at my girlfriend who was taking the photo for me. The children were horrified and my friend and I were in tears. We are still in shock and want to get our story out there. Being santa should represent the true meaning of christmas not making money by selling photos.


December 13th, 2009
11:07 pm

@Wendy – The Discover Mills Santa photo included 3 different shots. We did one with all the kids (youngest on Santa’s lap), one with all the kids (middle child on lap) and one with silly faces (including Santa with a silly face).


December 14th, 2009
12:58 am

Wendy, precisely why I tend to avoid (not to mention dislike) most mall Santas. I would certainly welcome Santa Bob!


December 14th, 2009
7:22 am

Is that the sound of “whirring helicopter blades” I hear buzzing aroung MJG’s daughter? Just kidding, MJG, because, believe it or not, this may be the one time that YOU might need to become involved, but in a VERY NON confrontational manner.

I also agree DB that your daughter should be the one to INITIATE the dialogue, and then, of she, and you, are not satisfied with the results THEN you get involved.

Now, regarding the taking of 3rd and 4th year languages in HS, that may be the most overused excuse while in HS, that college admissions look at that as being a “good sign”. I call BS on that, and here is why:

Did you read that this past weekend was when the “early decision” applicants would be notified of their acceptance, rejection, or deferrments at UGA? Also, did you read that the UGA admissions said that the “early decision acceptance” was based purely on GPA and test scores at this point, with GPA being the major consideration, and no personal data was considered AT ALL??? They look at the other “personal” stuff (essays, community service, sports, etc) only AFTER the early decisions are made regarding those not applying for early acceptance or those who are deferred via the “early denial” process.

Hence, for the HS guidance counselors to continually tell their students that this or that will look better on your transcript is pure non-sense! That B or C in an AP course, though put on the HS transcript as an A or B is still a B or C for the consideration of the admissions process. Trust me, we learned this the hard way!

And, while I am one of those who took Latin in HS, too, your kids are MUCH better off to take French, German, Spanish or Italian in HS since they are languages that are still spoken around the world! The only time anyone hears Latin is when you go to a Catholic funeral (and that is usually only when you have a really old priest). Yes, Latin is the root for almost all modern languages, and yes, it is good to learn, but it is not practical for anything today, and kids are being bamboozled if told otherwise.

I will get off my soapbox now…..


December 14th, 2009
7:24 am

Sorry, my second paragraph should say “I agree WITH DB…”


December 14th, 2009
11:59 am

@Lakerat – I have to disagree with you on one part: Latin is extremely useful in helping kids figure out meanings of unfamiliar words. Students with two or more years of Latin typically score 140-160 points higher on the SAT than non-Latin students. Granted, that’s a pretty ephemeral reason to devote two or three years to a “dead” language, but my son, especially, found high school Latin to be a very useful background for college political science and economics and in preparation for (hopefully) law school. He decided to take Spanish in college simply to have a practical language (he had some hours to spare), but he still uses the Latin in the most unexpected places :-)

Plus, the in-depth study of the Greco/Roman culture is also extremely useful to any well-educated person. You don’t get a solid background in history classes.


December 14th, 2009
1:23 pm

Not to say that the study of Latin isn’t worthwhile, but DB, I think your SAT figures are a bit inflated. Studies I’ve seen show that students who take the SAT II Latin test (so typically students who study Latin for 3+ years) score on average around 160 points higher on the SAT verbal than the average of ALL students taking the SAT. They score on average only 35-40 points higher than students taking the SAT II French test.

Based on my own experience studying French and Italian, I believe studying any Romance language will give a student a good background in the Latin roots found in English and help build a student’s English vocabulary. Latin may help more for that in particular, but study of French or Spanish provides practical knowledge of a language still spoken throughout the world. So I think it’s a wash, and students should choose based on their own interests, whether that’s traveling and conversing with people from other countries, a fascination with a particular nation/culture, studying the classics, or a passion for etymology.


December 14th, 2009
2:10 pm

@HB: Well, they aren’t “my” numbers :-), but I understand where you’re coming from! My point is that taking Latin isn’t a waste of time that many people consider it, simply because it isn’t spoken any more.

It’s sorta like upper-level mathematics — unless you are in a math field, you’ll probably never use calculus in your daily life, but the discipline of studying it and learning how to approach problems methodically and logically is one of the major benefits. There’s a lot to be said for taking a subject even though it may not be obviously “practical” – sometimes, it’s just “good for you”, kinda like broccoli. :-)


December 14th, 2009
4:28 pm

I completely agree, DB, that many subjects not obviously “practical” have great value and are “good for you”. I’m a big fan of the liberal arts approach for that reason. And those “impractical” subjects do often come in handy in surprising ways. I majored in French, but only occasionally need to speak/write/read it for my work. However, I use what I learned in those courses daily as writing in French greatly improved my English writing skills and developing my language acquisition skills made learning HTML a breeze.


December 15th, 2009
8:04 am

@ HB…mark this down…

I took French in HS ( way too long ago and I am certain nothing like college) )and haven’t a clue about HTML. I also speak about language acquisition in young children all the time.

While I may claim to have been on the sidewalk longer than you, you are obviously more intelligent than me here. I mean this! I tell my own kids that I know they are smarter than me. I could not pass biochemistry on a wing and a prayer! Calculus….hahaha!

I just have had a few more life experiences than they have had. Savor the compliment, you earned it.

@ Lakerat…thanks for your kind nudging….better than some posters lately.