Tuesday, March 12, 2013

News Looking Up For Accurate Science in Homeschooling?

The Atlantic has an excellent article on changes that are happening in the homeschool market that suggest that many homeschoolers are getting disgusted with the bad science.  David Wheeler writes:
For homeschooling parents who want to teach their children that the earth is only a few thousand years old, the theory of evolution is a lie, and dinosaurs coexisted with humans, there is no shortage of materials. Kids can start with the Answers in Genesis curriculum, which features books such as Dinosaurs of Eden, written by Creation Museum founder Ken Ham. As the publisher's description states, "This exciting book for the entire family uses the Bible as a 'time machine' to journey through the events of the past and future."

It's no secret that the majority of homeschooled children in America belong to evangelical Christian families. What's less known is that a growing number of their parents are dismayed by these textbooks.

Take Erinn Cameron Warton, an evangelical Christian who homeschools her children. Warton, a scientist, says she was horrified when she opened a homeschool science textbook and found a picture of Adam and Eve putting a saddle on a dinosaur. "I nearly choked," says the mother of three. "When researching homeschooling curricula, I found that the majority of Christian homeschool textbooks are written from this ridiculous perspective. Once I saw this, I vowed never to use them." Instead, Warton has pulled together a curriculum inspired partly by homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer and partly by the Waldorf holistic educational movement
If you will recall, it was the whole "dinosaur-with-a-saddle" problem that got Ken Ham into hot water, recently.The sad thing is that the biblical stories have been twisted so far out of proportion that they are barely recognizable for what they are and pictures like this, which should strike any student of the Bible as ridiculous, are simply accepted. 

Wheeler writes that many people homeschool not for religious reasons but because they don't like what is being taught in the public schools. That is partly so and partly not. One of the principle reasons that many do not like the public schools is that God has been summarily removed from the picture and it is hard to instill biblical values over the secular ones that the kids are pummeled with every day.

Part of the reason that some of us do not have our kids in public schools is because of the progressive dumbing-down not just of the students but of the administration, as well. Witness the recent problems resulting from lack of rudimentary common sense on the part of teachers and administrators involving children with pastries and toy soldiers. In the first case, the common sense was evident to everyone except the school officials, who suggested counseling for kids (rather than themselves) who were troubled by the incident. Most homeschoolers look on at these stories with a mixture of disbelief, horror and amusement and think, "There but for the grace of God, go we." But for those of us who despair of the lack of critical thinking in the sciences, hope is on the way:
The rising number of homeschool families striving to reconcile belief in God with today's scientific consensus has attracted the attention of at least one publisher -- Christian Schools International in Grand Rapids, Michigan...The CSI science curriculum clearly presents science from a Christian perspective, but does not attempt to discredit the theory of evolution. The content presents God as the author of all of creation, no matter how he did it or when he did it."
This is welcome news for those of us that just watched a child slog through It couldn't Just Happen, which does no better a job than Of Pandas and People in getting the biological and evolutionary sciences right. For both of these books, the emphasis is single-minded: the destruction of evolution. There is no other objective.  If conventional, accurate science is trod upon in the process, so be it.

I don't expect miracles overnight but this is a good first step.  There will be backlash from groups like Answers in Genesis, Abeka and Bob Jones, however.  I just hope that these "underdog" publishers stay true to their mission.  We will all benefit from it. 

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