Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Science Texts, Living Books, Thinking, and How We Don't

There was an article on MSNBC this week on how Christian homeschooling science textbooks 'stack the deck against evolution.' It is an interesting article. I thought it somewhat balanced, although I do not agree that the Apologia textbooks go as far as to 'stack the deck'. (The Apologia response is here. I do not know anything about the Bob Jones textbooks. We do not use Bob Jones, but we know people who do, and their fourteen-year-old daughter just took the prize overall in the middle school division of the regional science fair, competing against kids from public, private and science magnet schools in a multi-county region which includes a very large metropolitan area. Also, if folks would take the time to read up on homeschool graduates, they would find that they are quite as adequately represented in science careers as other demographics, and with excellence.) The Apologia texts are Christian textbooks and as such can be expected to present creation theory as well as the theory of Evolution, since, based on the scientific method (which must include empirical evidence), neither theory can be elevated to the level of 'fact' or 'law', it makes sense to include the Christian belief as well as the materialist one. (I also think it makes sense for secular texts to present both sides, based on the same argument.)

I feel for the secular homeschoolers. It is tough when you can't find the books you want to use because you aren't a large purchaser such as a school district, although I think they would be wise to discuss both viewpoints with their children.

So, there was the article. Now there is a poll on the article. The question asks, "Is it okay for homeschool textbooks to dismiss the theory of evolution?"

:sigh: I did not vote in the poll. But I did make a comment:

I would like to point out that this question is slanted, as it implies that the choice is either 'embrace evolution as fact' or 'dismiss evolution out of hand'. (I realize the question does not actually state that the alternative is embracing evolution as fact, but it is implied from the tone of the AP article.) This presents a problem for a homeschooler like me, who teaches her kids using both the Apologia textbooks and classic science books such as Rachel Fields'* _The Sea Around Us_ and Darwin's _The Origin of Species_.

Education is about surrounding your students with ideas and allowing them to think and reach their own conclusions. I think folks in the mainstream United States would be surprised at how many people homeschool their children because they want to *broaden* their children's viewpoints, rather than narrow them.

*(I had to write another comment to correct this-- _The Sea Around Us_ was written by Rachel *Carson*, not Rachel Field.)

It is astonishing to me how some folks following the most popular line of thinking on any given subject simply assume they are being broadminded and tolerant. It is not tolerant to dismiss another viewpoint out of hand, even if it is the Christian viewpoint. (And don't tell me that Christians do it too-- I know that. Wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it, and anyone who tosses out that argument and thinks he has just made a telling point is succumbing to a juvenile level of reasoning and ought not to be taken seriously.)

I just wish more people would *think*. Then we could have sensible conversations instead of bashing each other.


Anonymous said...

Here! Here!
Love, Mom

amy said...

I thoroughly enjoy your blog. As someone behind you in the AO years, I find it quite inspiring and helpful. I have been lurking for awhile now, but I had to comment here because I find myself very impressed with your comment and with your thoughts. You are right on. Thank you for saying what I'm thinking but could not quite articulate!