Friday, September 28, 2007

Can you separate the wheat from the chaff??

I recently borrowed a new homeschooling book from my local public library, A Biblical Home Education by Ruth Beechick. I knew that I was likely to disagree with many of the theological ideas there in, but I had seen high praise for some of Beechick's books, such as The Three R's, on teaching reading, writing and mathematics in the primary grades. I've seen some say that this is all you need for homeschooling a child from kindergarten through third grade, apart from library books. The practical subject matter material in this book did not disappoint. I liked what Beechick said about reading, writing, grammar and mathematics, and I really liked her assertion that curriculum should be a help to the teaching that the parent was doing, not the basis of the child's education.

So what was wrong? Several assertions went beyond theology with which I disagree, to outright absurdities. She claimed, unsupported by any footnotes, that it is obvious from the text of the Bible that God physically wrote the first section of Genesis, to Genesis 2:4, and Adam physically wrote the next bit, then Noah wrote the next bit, etc. (The common understanding is that Genesis is composed of many stories that were part of the oral tradition of the Hebrew people) The tower of Babel was the first United Nations, so we know that God is opposed to the current one. "Heart thinking" takes the cake. This idea was so "far out" that I didn't even realize from the clues what she was leading up to. She quotes several Bible passages, such as Job 38:36, Luke 2:35 and Romans 10:10 which speak of the heart believing, or thinking, or understanding. She wrote that "Not one of the uses [of the word heart in Scripture] gives any hint of being figurative." I still didn't know where she was going with this. She gives a few quotes from Early Christians which seem to state that Greek philosophy is incompatible with Christianity, of course not mentioning that the majority of Early Christians, at least those who wrote about it, believed quite the opposite. I was still unsure what all this was supposed to mean until I read the sentence, "We know little about the physiology of the brain's thinking and even less about the heart's thinking."

Wow. The brain thinks in a reasonable, logical way, which is inferior to the literal thinking of the physical organ the heart, since God places His wisdom in the heart. Excuse me while I go find a wall to slam my head into.

Ok, I'm back. My dilemma -- I really, really liked what she wrote about actual homeschooling techniques for the basics, the "three Rs" if you don't know how to spell, or RAW (or WAR!) if you do and don't want to be cutesy. I've seen her book on this promoted in so many different homeschooling catalogs that I've been thinking of getting it for sometime. However, is it possible that someone so irrational in other ways can be trusted even in this? Do I want to support this kind of "ministry" even if there is no bizarre theological content in these books? I've seen it sold even in Catholic and secular catalogs, so I don't think there is much if any theological thought in The Three R's. What little information she had in this book on the homeschool process of these subjects fit my not quite schooling, not quite unschooling thinking perfectly.

Oh, I'll mention, as a side note, that Beechick thinks that Beowulf is a true story and Grendel was a dinosaur. My head hurts.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

History Rant

We got a set of new books for the kids, and they're excellent (so far) except for one awful line in the "People in Place and Time" book, which is a history and cultural survey book.

There is one two page spread with one main paragraph that covers history from 500-1500 AD. The paragraph mentions the fall of Rome, new kingdoms and the spread of Christianity. Then one line reads "Christians often attacked the followers of other religions, particularly Muslim Arabs who lived in Spain, North Africa and the Middle East." I'm not excusing all the actions of the Crusades, but I'd like to point out that all the listed regions were Christian at the beginning of this time period, before the militant spread of Islam.

ETA: I e-mailed the company yesterday and received this message just now:
Thank you for letting us know about your concerns. This will be forwarded to our editors for reveiw.

What not to do

Try to race a train to an intersection, when the train is already ahead of you. Especially if there are two tracks next to each other, and there just happens to be a train coming the other way, that you ignore.

Article here. Video (not bloody/gruesome, just incredible) here.

I never thought I would be able to say that a woman is lucky that (only) two of her four children died. It is amazing anyone survived being hit by two trains.

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Week of "Official" Homeschooling

I had intended to start "officially" homeschooling this week. Of course, that was derailed by the fact that Pauly had a touch of the stomach flu, and then I ended up with far more than a touch of the stomach flu. Maybe instead of "a touch" it was a "beating" of the flu?

I had decided on doing a short period of structured schooling each day, based off Laura Berquist's ideas in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. She estimates her suggestions to take about 45 minutes a day for kindergarteners. I have to say, that must only be true if your children cooperate. On Wednesday Pauly refused to do a retelling/narration exercise. In fact, he sat at the table refusing to respond to my questions until he fell asleep.

I'm going to try again, but not attempt to force it. I got some suggestions on doing narrations, but was also told that Charlotte Mason, who highly advocated this technique, didn't have 5 and 6 year old kids doing them but saved them for older children. I'm also leaning more towards a less structured plan than I was when I set this all out. So we're going to go for it next week, and hopefully things will go better with well children and mommy.

The Question of the Day

Why haven't any of my babies been born with hair like this?

The Mean Kitty Song

This roxxors.