Last week the2011-2012 Veritas Press catalogue came in the mail and I’ve been spending some serious time perusing it while sitting on the bathroom floor next to the tub during Jenna’s bath times. For those of you unfamiliar with VP, it is an ultra-conservative Classical Christian homeschooling publishing company.
Okay, so since my family is middle of the road Methodists who don’t homeschool, why would I care about this??? Good question, especially since there are a lot of (in my mind) bizarre things about VP that as an educator I think are totally ridiculous and borderline detrimental to children.
For starters, VP doesn’t advocate teaching science to Grammar stage children at all, meaning no science until grade seven! On page 12 of the catalogue they write “We don’t teach science in grammar school–meaningful science requires certain language and mathematical mastery. Yet scientific memorization is important…” That’s why they have kids memorize science songs instead. I haven’t heard the songs, so I don’t know how scientific they are. But kick me now, because I’m thinking about ordering them out of sheer curiosity.
The “science” that VP does introduce starting in grade seven includes such titles as: Exploring Creation with General Science, Exploring Creation with Biology, Scientists of Faith, Understanding Creation, and Exploring Creation with Chemistry. There is a lot I could say about this but I won’t. In my mind as a former public school teacher, this is the type of curriculum that gives homeschoolers a bad name!
Combine that “science” with VP’s suggestion that you have seventh graders read and study the Vulgate Bible (which is in Latin of course), and you have the kind of situation that gives Classical Homeschoolers a bad name. Okay, now I’m offended!
I can wrap my brain around why you might have kids learn Latin, even though that would not be my choice, but why on Earth would you have 12 year olds spend an inordinate amount of time translating the Bible into English, after it had been translated in to Latin?
Couldn’t those seventh graders be doing something more meaningful with their time, like I don’t know… learning science? Or learning a language they could actually speak? Or reading primary source documents that were originally written in Latin? Or reading a reputable translation of the Bible in English?
If you have read this far you are probably thinking that I think my hours spent reading the Veritas Press catalogue have been a complete waste of my time since I’m so dead set against a lot of their educational philosophy Not so! Some of their ideas are really intriguing to me.
Take math for example. VP thinks that with math instruction you should “drill, drill, and drill the way math needs to be taught.” (p62) As a Constructivist, I believe the exact opposite of course. But I think it is really interesting that VP advocates teaching math a grade ahead. They have Kindergarteners start first grade Saxon, first graders start second grade Saxon etc. Intriguing…. I like it!
Finally, the thing I absolutely 100% love about the VP catalogue is its wonderful list of historical fiction and history books, by time, theme, and grade level. Okay, maybe I just 90% love it because there is a dearth of titles that include stories of people of color. In fact, am I missing something or are there not any? I mean nada, zilch. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they include the history of non-white people in the textbook portion of their program. Still, this catalogue could really benefit from The Kidnapped Prince by Ann Cameron or Lupita Manana by Patricia Beatty.
We are just finishing off reading Story of the World Volume Three with my six and a half year old, so I turned to page 45 in the VP catalogue where it begins the fifth grade American history selections. Not all of the books are at the 5th grade reading level. In fact, there is a huge range. But since my 6.5year old can read at the fifth grade reading level anyway, I wasn’t too concerned about any of the books being too hard. Then I opened up our local library’s online webpage, and ordered every single book I could from the VP catalogue for free from the library! Christmas vacation starts in a few weeks, and I’ll now have a big bag of themed books for Bruce to choose from. Sweet!
Now I’m left hemming and hawing. Should I order the history memory song CDs from VP which are very reasonably priced at under $7? Should I (gasp) order the musical science CDs? I might be crazy, but I can feel my credit card burning right now. 🙂
Before I wrote this post I did not know that Veritas Press promotes the author Douglas Wilson who is on the record for being pro-slavery This is from Wikipedia:
Wilson’s most controversial work is probably his pamphlet Southern Slavery, As It Was (ISBN 1-885767-17-X), which he wrote along with League of the South co-founder and fellow Christian minister Steve Wilkins. The pamphlet stated that “slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since.”
This explains the dearth of children’s books in the Veritas Press catalogue that describe the American experience of non-whites. I cannot understand how anyone could purchase products from a company that in associated with a pro-slavery author. That’s a major deal-breaker for me, and I have indeed thrown the Veritas Press catalogue in the trash.
For further information, please see:
Southern Slavery as it Wasn’t by Sean M. Quinlan, Ph.D., and William L. Ramsey, Ph.D.