Sunday, March 10, 2013

Evangelical homeshoolers rejecting Creationism in favor of Evolution. Possibly the best news of the day.

Courtesy of The Atlantic:

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.

For many evangelical families, the rationale for homeschooling has nothing to do with a belief in Young Earth Creationism or a rejection of evolutionary theory. Some parents choose to homeschool because they're disenchanted with the values taught in the public school system. Others want to incorporate more travel into their children's education. Still others want to implement specific learning techniques they believe are more suitable for their children. 

 But whatever their reason for homeschooling, evangelical families who embrace modern science are becoming more vocal about it -- and are facing the inevitable criticism that comes with that choice. "We get a lot of flak from others for not using Christian textbooks," Warton says. 

The assertion that anyone who believes in evolution "disregards" the Bible offends many evangelicals who want their children to be well-versed in modern science. Jen Baird Seurkamp, an evangelical who homeschools her children, avoids textbooks that discredit evolution. "Our science curriculum is one currently used in public schools," she says. "We want our children to be educated, not sheltered from things we are afraid of them learning."

I think I shared with you the story of my daughter bringing her home school "textbook" to me which simply answered a question about where man came from by quoting Genesis, and in which a frighteningly large number of study questions could legitimately be answered with "God did it."

Ever since then I have had a very low opinion of Christian homeshoolers, and opinion that was in no way helped by watching the documentary "Jesus Camp." but I have to say that it THIS trend continues I will have to reevaluate my innate distrust of home schooling.

However I doubt very seriously that I will not always be a little suspicious that the purpose for MOST homeschoolers is to keep their children isolated from alternative points of view that might endanger their ability to indoctrinate their children into certain religious or cultural traditions that are not supported by our progressive nation as a whole.


  1. Anonymous3:12 PM

    If a kid is homeschooled on bible stories instead of science, their future as a doctor, dentist, or any other job that requires a background in science is out of the question for them-- they will never pass the SAT exam to get into college.

    Oh, they can go to a Christian university where their faith will be reaffirmed, but their career path does not lead to as many possibilities as the kid who had scientific training in his background.

  2. Anonymous3:33 PM

    There is a growing group of people who homeschool for completely secular reasons. Often it's because the child is highly gifted in one or more areas and the gutted public school system can't handle the child's education needs.

    1. Anonymous4:34 PM

      Or the kid has other need that can not be meet by the school. I had a Behavioral Pediatrician tell me that homeschooling would be best for my kid else we would be spending all our time in the principal's office. This was related to anxiety and sensory issues.


    2. Anonymous5:46 AM

      And tanks Gryphen for writing that from a more balanced perspective than I've seen in the past here on homeschoolers.

      The We;;Trained Mind books by Wise Bauer an her mom Jesse are good and secular, though the authors are not.

  3. Anonymous3:56 PM

    What 'values' are they so afraid of in the public schools? My kids were taught to share, to wait their turn, to strive to do their best work, to compete fairly, to never cheat, to work hard for a goal....they both graduated from fine schools and are employed in career jobs. Plus, they went to church and so got all the Bible stories (there is a reason the books are called 'stories') and know about God. Neither of them attends church, and that is fine with me too. The point is, they are good, honest young adults who were never spoonfed anything . They earned their grades; they earned the scholarships they were awarded; they earned their National Merit Scholar designations (lest you think having two in one family is odd, there were FOUR on our street, from two families.) I'm not sure what a homeschooled kid ever earns.

    1. Anonymous4:26 PM

      If you read the religious homeschooling blogs, you see lots of pants-wetting terror about "public school kids" and the terrible, terrible things they will teach the homeschooled snowflakes. I would suspect some of the things are tolerance, science, math, and open-mindedness.

    2. Anonymous4:28 PM

      I think it's very important that we do not use our own personal experiences to limit the scope of the conversation. Not everyone homeschools for religious reasons and not everyone has the opportunity to send their kids to a stellar public school.

      It isn't always about the values supposedly taught in schools, but rather the values and influences of the kids that attend there. Some schools are plagued with gang and bully problems that they just can't seem to get resolved. Some schools are so poor as to not be able to offer children classes in art, music, gym, and computers. Some schools have terrible drug and alcohol problems. Some schools have an atmosphere where the brainiacs are teased and made to feel like outsiders. It doesn't matter how loving and supporting the family at home is. This is not a healthy environment for a student to learn and thrive in and is extremely stressful. I'm truly happy for all those who have had great success with their children attending public school. But try to be more understanding about why some parents choose other options.

      BTW - my homeschooled daughter did so well in 2 years of community college, that she got a full tuition scholarship to a Seven Sisters college, and then another for her graduate work at Columbia University. Bragging? Yes, because she earned every bit of it.

    3. fromthediagonal4:54 PM

      The most important lesson a home schooled child may not learn is this:
      Any society is comprised of different people, different achievements and different traditions.
      To become a part of that society is probably the most important aspect of growing up.
      Children sheltered from this process will eventually have to face up to it.
      Too many of these young adults have serious problems understanding that there is a great, big, wide world beyond their sheltered lives.
      This world does not agree with what they have been taught, and they have no coping mechanisms.
      It makes me sad.

    4. Anonymous6:40 PM

      I have a friend who put her son in a Waldorf school. In the short time they were there (before she returned him to our wonderful public elementary school), he learned all kinds of bad behavior from the special snowflakes in his class.

    5. Anonymous5:48 AM

      Actually, one of te reasons we secuar homeschooled was because I didn't want the religious creep of public school conformity - that daily does of god-acknowledging in the Pledge, for one.

      As fro your Waldorf anecdote, meh. particular class or teacher. Mine did Montessori before homeschooling - WONDERFUL experience.

    6. Anonymous5:50 AM

      @from the diagonal - you suffer from the usual misconceptions of homeschooling. The inauthentic experience is being with age peers in a classroom - an artificial cohort that will never again exist in life.

      Homeschoolers have the time to socialize with people of all ages - not be incarcerated with only age peers. THINK about it.

    7. Anonymous9:13 AM

      Montessori and Waldorf are very different from each other.

    8. Anonymous11:09 AM

      They are both "non-sit in a desk and wait to be told what to do" alternatives beginning in pre-school. My point was that since neither (Montessori definitely and Waldorf possibly)are copyrighted, licensed names, they can indeed vary widely.

  4. Randall4:00 PM

    This is a good trend - perhaps, if enough parents follow this line of education "home-schooled" will no longer be a substitute for "retard" in the popular lexicon.

    1. Anonymous5:50 AM

      And perhaps "Randall" will no longer be a euphemism for "ignorant asshole."

  5. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Thank goodness, we are not any of those religious freaks! I homeschooled our daughter after I took a continuing Ed class in our local high school, and I had to go through locked gates (more than 20 years ago!), and there were NO windows to look out of, only some way up high, and they had a HUGE sign in the class room, stating that "some of the materials have been bought by the teacher". When I looked at their Encyclopedia Brittanica, it was an edition from 1956, the year I was born, which said, amongst other things:" Some day, man will go into space."
    That was it for me. My daughter had wanted to homeschool before, but when I saw that she would have to go to that high school, I gave in. The local department of education told me about my wishes to home school:" if you trust your child to the drunkard down the street to educate her, be my guest!" (That is what they actually told me!) the only stipulation they gave me was that she would have to 'go to school' for 3 hours/day, 150 days/year...
    She went to College at age 15, got an AA, and a year later a double AA/AS, later a BA and also an MBA (which, BTW, was called 'Modern Business Association' degree by one of our funnies acquaintances...)

  6. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Anon @ 3:56 : My daughter was homeschooled, and at the ripe old age of TWELVE she earned the privilege of teaching COLLEGE AGE STUDENTS how to handle animals and how to give them veterinary care at Lawrence Hall of Sciences, in Berkeley, CA. The students asked her how old she was, but she wisely refused to answer that question...
    At the same age, she also earned the privilege to write their procedures manual for the biology department there.
    She also earned the privilege to help teachers there in the astronomy and physics departments.

    1. Anonymous6:07 PM

      You obviously birthed a prodigy. Not all homeschooled kids share your's inherent intelligence.

    2. Anonymous5:52 AM

      No, they don't. But there are enough GT kids for whom public school rigidity stupidity is torture.

  7. jcinco4:14 PM

    "schoolers" gryph!

  8. My wife homeschools our daughters, with great success, as far as test scores and placement goes. We use a Catholic curriculum, but substitute real science for what's found in the lesson plans.

    The extracurricular activities they both enjoy, quite make up for what passes for socialization in public schools.....and they're getting a far better education to boot. Homeschooling still gets a bad rap when it is myopically viewed as only for evangelical shut-ins....but more and more parents are making the move.

  9. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Public school was a very social experience for me and when I went to school in the 80's there were adaptive programs for gifted children and independent study groups were employed for us that were operating beyond the curriculum offered for our grade levels. I consider myself very lucky in that respect because as I said in my first sentence, school was very social and I couldn't imagine not having cheerleading and track/cross country, tennis, debate, and participating in school plays and musicals. I know that I couldn't have developed the proper social skills being homeschooled and I'm so thankful that my small town school system had appropriate curriculum based on ability that allowed higher achievers to work at their own pace and still get to participate in the all important social aspects of public school.

    1. Anonymous5:55 AM

      ONe, those programs in most schools are long gone.

      And I have no idea why you equate athletics with school. It's a bad idea for one. and for two, REAL athletes these days see school s teams as mediocre extra practice at best. My kids and nieces and nephews play travel/club sports - that's where the scholarships are - hockey, volleyball, tennis, soccer, baseball, swimming etc.

  10. Anita Winecooler6:21 PM

    I sent mine to public school and never regretted that decision. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons to homeschool kids that are legitimate, but I have to admit that same "homeschool - anti science religious fanatic" connection is the first thing that comes to mind. Reading this article gives me hope that this trend continues, because not teaching science and facts puts the kid at a disadvantage, and isn't preparing the child for the real world.

    1. Anonymous11:11 AM

      The problem then is your mind, not homeschooling. Think about it - if every time you hear "black teen" you think gangbanger....

  11. Ya' think they know they're raising future Democrats?

  12. It's a good idea up keep an open mind and not paint a group with too broad of a brush nor put too narrow of a label on groups that have diversity that I have yet to recognize only because of my own limited encounters.

    It seems to be a lesson that I keep learning every time I try to project my own broad experience that's taught me that there's more to know than I'll never know, so when I use my own experience and a bias, I'm just minutes or hours away from being humbled.

    When I'm lucky, I learn before I'm embarrassed. But then upon reflection, I'll then remember a conversation on a subject that I was pretty damn comfortable about my conclusions because they were based mostly on facts and partially on thoughtful analysis...

    Thoughtful analysis and projection, my ass! Learning is humbling when one has to be and say stupid things to smart people, and then later learn that I was wrong but so 'confident' in my analysis that I could've been farther up the learning curve if I asked this individual a few questions and listened instead of talking about how much I know on a subject.

    As well-read as I think I am and also as eager to learn as I think I am, sometimes I become "one of the fools that just doesn't get it" when I refuse to encounter a different opinion. Just the insight of someone else's experience and opinion might be the key to tweaking my own outlook, even if their "facts" are flawed.

    If I could manage to always expand my range of understanding before I stretch my mouth to get my foot, each time with a larger shoe on it, it seems, squarely in my mouth, I'd feel more intelligent. But then again, that's part of my own problem. I'm not sure why it should matter how intelligent that I feel I am is going to matter to someone else anyway. If I know something, great, if I don't, at least i've identified a knowledge gap, and I can ask questions or research the answer myself. But that tidbit of knowledge isn't another imaginary trophy in the imaginary trophy case that someone else wants to see right now and take a picture of, just because it is MY imaginary trophy.

    Besides, someone is more apt to think I might be more intelligent if I give a qualified answer and introduce some doubt in my answer by introducing a range of certainty or probability if known or caveats and unknowns if they exist.

    One of my goals is to put into practice in every instance the simple saying that I try to apply, but when the blinders are on, I don't have implanted in my subconscious enough to overcome my pride every time:

    "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care!"

    If there's anyone that doesn't make this same mistake regularly like I do, please share your method for keeping it front in center in your mind. Because I find that not only does it become a barrier to someone else listening to me when I'm positive that the facts are exactly as I understand, but it also limits the opinions and sets of facts that I will "give a fair shake" to, and consider how they affect the views of another with a different ideology or set of personal circumstances, not necessarily "wrong", because they arrive at a different opinion.

    Thanks for the post, G

    "In all affairs it's a healthy thing every now and then to hang a question mark on the things that you've always taken for granted." --- Bertrand Russell

  13. Gryphen, did you post the photo of Ashley Judd wearing the Kentucky white football jersey? I remember seeing it recently but don't recall the source, and it didn't pop up on a google search. Good pic though. If you have a quick way to locate the date you posted, I'd appreciate it if you could post the date or repost the pic. iPhone doesn't have a good search function for blogs, apparently. Or Maybe it's the safari browser on the phone. Either way, thanks.

  14. Anonymous10:06 PM

    Knowing what I'm like, if I'd HAD children, I would have been tempted to try homeschooling, or SOME sort of alternative to sending them off to the big bad, ugly world of public schooling.

    And YET: when I think back to how the most valuable lessons in life I did learn, came from that imperfect place called "school"--with all the bullies, freaks, dummies, and assorted strange children, there is no substitute for it.

    Sheltering a kid from reality will most often produce a paranoid freak, or at times one who goes into the rebellion stage with a frightening vengeance, unlike anything seen in the mainstream of kids.

    While I'm sure SOME parents are able to overcome the pitfalls, its too much like figuring it'd be smart to have your child's legs cut off, to prevent him from ever tripping and falling.

    (And when the other kids ask him to play third base in their baseball game, they'll mean the actual BAG.)

    1. Anonymous6:00 AM

      ONE MORE TIME. An artificial age cohort is NOT reality. Not college or university, not the work world, not even the military. your church or neighborhood. Not a family.

      My town can be somewhat cliquish. Too k me a bit to realize that was because the cliques were the old popular kids (cheerleaders athletes) who can't make new friends and are stuck in the arrested development of their high school years. 30 + year old women looking and acting like middle schoolers - pathetic.

  15. Anonymous3:18 AM

    I've never understood WHY some "Christians" are against science. Why do they think God gave us brains? Curiosity? How would we have made advances in medicine and technology?

    These people are FOOLS. Religion and science CAN peacefully co-exist!


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