Sunday, May 20, 2007

Curriculum Discussion

What are the curriculum options for the old-earth creation family? Well, first you have to make a philosophical decision: Will you use young-earth curriculum and try to teach around the crack-pot science? Or, will you use mainstream curriculum and teach around the biological evolution?

Practically speaking, you won't need to make this decision until the seventh grade. The content of all of the science curricula I have evaluated over the last several years (and believe me, that is many!) is basically the same whether it's Christian or secular.

But then, something "magic" happens in the seventh grade. That appears to be the time when young-earth texts introduce the age of the earth question and flood geology. Likewise, it's when mainstream texts include a chapter on biological evolution.

Now, if you are teaching any of the following disciplines, then it won't matter which type of curricula you use. It's basically the same data set:
- anatomy
- chemistry
- physics
- botany
- health

But, if you want to teach about any of these other disciplines of science, then proceed with caution.
- astronomy
- geology
- earth science
- history of the universe
- biology

The data contained in young-earth curricula will be about 85% correct, but it will be interspersed with scientific errors. This includes all of the major Christian publishers, including A Beka, Bob Jones University Press, Sonlight, and Apologia Ministries.

The one exception to this is Christian Schools International published by the Christian Reformed Church. Their science curriculum tries to be neutral on the issue of the age of the earth and attempts to accomodate young-earth creationists, old-earth creationists and even (I think) theistic evolutionists. Walking this tightrope makes for some rather interesting selection of topics at times and results in a degree of "watering down" of the data. But still, it's a good option for those families who insist on using a Christian science curriculum. But be prepared for lots of trips to the library for supplementary information (it is especially weak in astronomy).

My personal preference is to use a secular curriculum and then teach around the evolution. This way, all of the science is at least correct and I'm not spending a bunch of time trying to explain to an eight-year old why some Christians believe dinosaurs were on the ark. Every textbook I have evaluated confines the discussion of evolution to just one chapter. So if you have a serious philosophical objection to exposing your child to evolution then you can just skip it. (Personally, I would much rather expose my children to evolution while they are still and home and we can talk about it than have them confront it for the first time when they are in college.)

The secular options for curriculum are real simple because there aren't too many:
- Glencoe/McGraw Hill (Be sure to click that you are a "Teacher.")
- Pearson/Prentice Hall

Personally, we like the Well-Trained Mind approach of focusing on a single-subject for the entire year, as opposed to doing six-week unit studies (which is what the vast majority of science curricula do, whether secular or Christian). It allows for in-depth study and repeated reinforcement aids long-term retention of the information. In light of this, we have chosen to use Gravitas Publishing. (If you end up going this direction, make sure to purchase the Lab Manual, too. You'll need it.)
Year 1: Chemistry, Level 1
Year 2: Physics, Level 1

One note of clarification - although the Gravitas curriculum is frequently promoted by Intelligent Design people (who are generally Christians), it is NOT a Christian curriculum. It is completely void of any religious content. That being said, the upside of Gravitas is that the biology text doesn't promote biological evolution.

Next year, we are going to do astronomy. This is what we have chosen. We only purchased the student text.
- Astronomy (published by Pearson/Prentice Hall)

Ok, that's about all I'm going to say on this theme right now. I'll try to remember to make another entry soon about some of the young-earth options.

3 comments:

KarenDV said...

THANK YOU for starting this blog. I have been immensely frustrated with the assumption that all homeschoolers are YE, and with the disdain with which my faith is viewed within the community b/c I am OE.

Anyway, I wondered whether the Gravitas material and the R.E.A.L. Sci for Kids are the same thing? I had a hard time telling from the sites. I know I've seen the Gravitas cover shot before.

Also, have you reviewed NOEO yet? (Forgive me for not having read all your archives yet.) We used their Chem 1 last fall semester and will use Physics 1 this fall. (In the spring, I'm almost ashamed to say, we used Apologia's astronomy book, but it turned out to be a valuable exercise in logic for my son to point out the inherent contradictions in the book. And when it did stick to the facts it was alright.

Thanks again,
KarenDV

Child of God said...

Karen:

Glad you are enjoying the blog. Feel free to help spread the news.

Gravitas (Real-Science-4-Kids) and R.E.A.L. Science are actually two different curricula, although they have VERY similar names. It's confusing.

I'm not familiar with the acronym NOEO. Can you tell me what that stands for?

Jaime said...

Noeo Science is a curriculum. The Noeo isn't an acronym. Just punch in Noeo science on google. I'm using it this year. But my daughter is quickly heading for high school and I'm desperate for some miracle wonder science curriculum to pop up in the next 2 years. Thanks for this site. It's a great help!