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Be Careful Where You Get Your Advice

For those of you who are new to thinking about offering your child some semblance of a Classical Education either through Homeschooling or Afterschooling please beware. In my opinion your best guidebook will be The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.

There is also another famous (or infamous) author out there named Doug Wilson promoting what he calls a Classical Christian Education. (The end of this post will include my review of Mr. Wilson’s latest book, Father Hunger which I received a complimentary copy of from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinions and review.)

I knew enough about Doug Wilson before I ever read Father Hunger to know that his name was a loaded term. So I called up my cousin Daniel who is studying at an Evangelical Seminary to give me an education. Daniel helped fill me in on the controversial things that Doug Wilson is involved in like the Federal Vision, which (in my mind) seems to be a completely unnecessary “how many angels can dance on a pin” way of seeing if you are a good enough Christian. As a United Methodist, I believe that is a relationship defined by God and the Bible, not Doug Wilson.

I filled my cousin Daniel in on the truly shocking things I already knew about Doug Wilson, namely his co-authorship of the notorious Paleo-Confederate pamphlet Southern Slavery as It Was, which many leading experts in history and religion view to be racist, revisionist, and possibly plagiarized. In Southern Slavery as it Wasn’t Sean M. Quinlan, Ph.D. and William L. Ramsey, Ph.D. soundly denounce the pamphlet calling it “a short “monograph” of thirty-nine pages that defends racial slavery and claims its abolition is the primary cause of “abortion, feminism, and sodomy.”” Reverend Jack Davidson of North Carolina has also written an excellent essay called Wrong About the History of Southern Slavery: A Response to Steve Wilkins and Douglas Wilson’s History of Slavery.

From Doug Wilson’s blog, I also knew that he has really (in my mind) bizarre views on women. He thinks it is okay for girls to learn to play basketball for example, as long as they don’t play with boys and that they are taught to play in a lady-like manner. Then there is the issue of gay rights, which is so contentious in churches today (Methodists included.) In an April/2009 interview in Christianity Today, Doug Wilson refused to say that stoning people to death for homosexuality was a bad idea.

Father Hunger, Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead their Families is full of other types of (in my opinion) misinterpretations of Biblical truths and twisted Ayn Rand nonsense. Wilson claims that a free market economic system would be guided by the Holy Spirit (p 96). He suggests suggesting that Autism is caused by mothers putting their children in daycare (p112). He spends two pages saying that feminists really harbor rape fantasies (pp 141-142). He also calls the Civil War the “War Between the States” (p 94), and not in a cute or ironic way, either.

If you can stomach all of that garbage, then you also have to listen to him basically say that if you put your children in public school then you aren’t really a good Christian (70-71). In fact, Wilson seems to think that many Christian private schools aren’t good enough either. This might be an appropriate time to point out that Wilson is a contributing author to Veritas Press, the same homeschooling company that sent out a Christmas video in 2011 featuring a gun. It is also an education catalogue that offers almost no books for children featuring people of color.

What bothers me is this. You might be a devoted, Christian parent who walks into a Bible bookstore and picks up one of Doug Wilson’s books thinking “I want to do right by my child,” or “I want to give my child a first-class education.” You might stumble across the Veritas Press catalogue like I once did, and think “Hmmm… This looks interesting.” Before you know it, your head and your children’s minds could be filled up with some really twisted stuff.

What really bothers me is that more people of faith and education aren’t speaking up against Mr. Wilson. I’m a Christian, I’m an educator, I have a Classical Education, and I think it is a crime that we are allowing somebody like Doug Wilson to speak on behalf of the Classical Christian Education movement. Our children deserve better.

Weird “Veritas Press” Christmas Video

You have got to be kidding me! A while back I posted about the conservative homeschool company Veritas Press, and the things that I found interesting about their catalogue.  Somehow I ended up on their email list, and yesterday received the following Christmas greeting.  There is no need to watch the whole clip; you can probably tell what concerns me by just looking at the first image.  (I originally had the whole video pasted into this post, but felt the image was too disturbing for my blog.)

I have no intention of getting into any sort of debate about the second amendment.  I come from a family where lots of different people hunt, and I’m not anti-gun ownership.  But what the heck?  I have never, ever in my entire life seen an educator or somebody in the educational field represent themself, their school, or their company holding a gun.  Can you imagine if your child’s school sent out holiday cards with a picture of the principal holding a rifle in the school office? 

I think this is one of the biggest “lack of professional judgment” examples I have ever seen in the field of education. I don’t think that guns should be associated with schools, nor should they be associated with religion. I also don’t think that guns should be associated with teaching from a religious perspective — any religious perspective.  Combine this with a homeschooling company that believes young children should not learn science, and a literary catalogue that mainly teaches American history from the Caucasian perspective and you leave me, a former public school teacher, wondering if I should throw their catalogue in the trash.

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Update: 12/27/2011

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.

Veritas Press Catalogue Review

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 BiologyScientists 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.  🙂

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Update: 12/27/2011

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.