Monday, March 08, 2010

Good News: Never Get Shoved Into The Girl's Bathroom

Frequent reader(s) of this blog know that entropy is the master of us all on this long, desultory slide to heat death...er...we mean know that we do what passes for work to earn what passes for our salary deep in the bowels of the local educorporate training complex. By way of full disclosure this means that our views on homeschooling might be somewhat skewed by our career choice, but then most of our other views are somewhat skewed by copious amounts of Stolichnaya, so tomato tomahto.

OK, all that being said we've pretty much concluded over the years that homeschooling is like any other kind of schooling in that there are good home schools and bad ones. Home schools have certain advantages over regular schools (can go to class in your pajamas) and certain disadvantages (dog ate my homework gambit not an option), so when we read about the plight of poor Mrs. Mule it occurred to us that for some folks assuming you can properly educate your youngster because you can read is like assuming you can drive the NASCAR circuit because you have a driver's license.

Home-school mom Susan Mule wishes she hadn't taken a friend's advice and tried a textbook from a popular Christian publisher for her 10-year-old's biology lessons.
Yeah. Typical rookie mistake, listening to the sales pitch. Always request a desk copy to see if there's anything in the book that remotely resembles what the publisher advertises. Oh, and if you're going to teach out of the book, it helps if you've read it first. Just saying.

Mule's precocious daughter Elizabeth excels at science and has been studying tarantulas since she was 5. But she watched Elizabeth's excitement turn to confusion when they reached the evolution section of the book from Apologia Educational Ministries, which disputed Charles Darwin's theory. "I thought she was going to have a coronary," Mule said of her daughter, who is now 16 and taking college courses in Houston. "She's like, 'This is not true!'"
Now, we'd be the first to admit we learn things from our students, but generally about things peripheral to the class, like computer softwares, or web sites. Stuff like that.  It's generally not considered educationally sound to have the students know more than the teacher about what they are supposed to be learning. Sort of defeats the purpose of school if you catch our drift.

"The majority of home-schoolers don't really want to learn anything," said Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the Home School Checkers and Macrame Club. "Most home-schoolers will definitely have a sort of creationist component to their home-school program to guarantee what passes for their education is the finest the 17th century can provide. We're not sure how those heathens got in the program. Especially that 'precocious' one. What does that even mean?"

"Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling, if by 'puzzling' you mean batspit howl at the moon off the rails insane," says the introduction to "Biology: Third Edition" from Bob Jones University Press. "This book was not written for them and that's a bit of a problem because a lot of the people the book was written for can't read."

The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its "History of Life" chapter that a "Christian worldview ... has to be protected from reality at all costs and anyone who rejects it probably went to one of them evil government schools where they teach things like the wimmins is equal and other communist stuff."

In Kentucky, Lexington home-schooler Mia Perry remembers feeling disheartened when she realized she was surrounded by people who believed god was powerful enough to flood the whole world, but not powerful enough to set aside an island or something somewhere to put the stuff he wanted to save, so he had to have some yokel build a boat for him. "We're not trying to make sure our kids stay ignorant, so there's somewhat of a feeling of being outnumbered," said Perry, who has home-schooled three of her four children after removing her oldest child from a public school because of a health condition.

Apologia and Bob Jones University Press say their science books sell well because they have a lot of pictures. Apologia's "Exploring Creation" biology textbook retails for $65, while Bob Jones' "Biology" Third Edition lists at $52."And just to reiterate the point, we no longer accept payment in chickens or vegetables," said Jay Wile, a former janitorial aide in Indianapolis who helped launch the Apologia curriculum.

Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago and Virginia Tech biology professor Duncan Porter reviewed excerpts from the Apologia and Bob Jones biology textbooks, which are equivalent to ninth- and 10th-grade biology lessons. Porter said he would give the books an F."They start off all right," Porter said. "But then you get to chapter six and all it says is 'And then a miracle happened.' Not exactly the scientific approach I was looking for."

Wile countered that Coyne "feels compelled to lie in order to prop up a failing hypothesis (evolution). Oh wait, we're the ones propping up a failing hypothesis. OK. Well, at least do not lie to the students because we believe this stuff ourselves and it's all right to be stupid as long as you're honest about it."

 Adam Brown's parents say their 16-year-old son's belief in the Bible's creation story isn't deterring him from pursuing a career in marine biology. His parents, Ken and Polly Brown, taught him at their Cedar Grove, Ind., home using the Apologia curriculum and other science texts that actually had some connection to the real world.

 Polly Brown said her son would gladly take college courses that include evolution, and he'll be able to provide the expected answers even though he disagrees.

Yeah. Nothing recommends  home schooling better than parents teaching their children useless information then telling them not to use it.

1 comment:

Seeing Eye Chick said...

Its funny, but I am working on a blog entry using the exact same story. Hope you like it when I post it.

Thanks for trying to be even handed towards homeschoolers. I know that after reading a story like that, it was not easy.