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Curriculum users beliefs that make you second guess your choices


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#1 tmstranger

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:08 AM

With Columbus Day this week, there was a discussion on a curriculum users page about him. This is a curriculum that has been on my "possibility" list for several years, which is why I follow the facebook page.

The discussion is not what I believe about what happened when Columbus had his exploration in 1492, in fact, they seemed to be laughing at all of the "liberals" that believe this way. This has made me really second guess using the curriculum in the future. I now wonder what else they teach that I would disagree with.

Has this ever happened to you? I can understand secular vs. religious causing concern, but this was an issue of what is currently believed about history. What do you do? Do you just mark it off your list and eliminate it from any further consideration? I'm really taken aback by the way this discussion took place.

BTW, I don't want to name the curriculum because many people use it, and my goal is not to offend anyone, but to find out how people handle these things. We only get limited samples online, so what happens when you start teaching and find out that something being taught (or maybe not taught, but omitted) goes against what you believe?

(And I apologize if this sounds disjointed, but I'm on my phone, which makes it hard to edit.)

#2 HomeAgain

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:13 AM

I put the curriculum on my "no" list.  TGaTB ended up on that list for a similar reason, and when I looked through the gravity lesson in BFSU I was a little put off by their treatment of Columbus, mainly the idea that in the year that the globe was invented Columbus proved that nobody was going to fall off the edge of the world.  Eh, no.  That's not how that worked.

 

I have the book, but I'm more wary now and read through every detail.  I had thought we'd use the second but a non-factual science book is not high on my list of priorities for where to spend my money..


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#3 boscopup

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:14 AM

If I think there are gross errors in methodology for a curriculum, I won't use it. Minor errors are acceptable... There is no curriculum that will be 100% without error. That's why we read multiple sources and look at where they get information and look at primary sources, etc.

What you're describing sounds like most Christian curriculum though... They tend to be very conservative politically and religiously. There often isn't a middle road for them. Many will outright say that God used Columbus to discover America. I've put such a curriculum on my definite no list after reading that in a sample.
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#4 Tanaqui

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:39 AM

Without seeing the discussion it's hard to say, but I'd be wary of using a curriculum when I knew the Official Page mocked people. Even if the other people are dead wrong, and it's provable, I just don't think that sort of thing is appropriate. (And if the other people are NOT dead wrong, that's even worse!)


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#5 mschickie

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:53 AM

I would not necessarily judge the curriculum by the users page.  I know that there have been several curriculums that I have found to be fine but some of the discussions about  them from users have been a little weird.  There have also been times that I have used a curriculum and then found something in it that I did not agree with.  I use that as a discussion point with my kids and then bring in other sources to show some of the differences in opinion.  We then discuss why there might be differing thoughts, what the facts state, and then what do they think.  Those have been some of our best lessons.


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#6 Kinsa

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:59 AM

There are a whole lotta whackadoodles in the homeschooling world. (Probably people consider me to be one of them. Lol) I would judge a curriculum based on the curriculum itself, NOT based on whether or not whackadoodles chose to use it. The curriculum provider has no control over who buys their product. There MIGHT be a correlation in whackadoodle-factor between users and curriculum, but that doesn't NECESSARILY mean causation.

Edited by Kinsa, 11 October 2017 - 09:00 AM.

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#7 Bluegoat

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:09 AM

It really depends.  

 

As said - I think you can't assume that just because a lot of users believe something, that it reflects the product.  It might not reflect the views of the creators at all.  Of course you might ask - why are these people attracted to this?  But with these kinds of materials I think there can be so many reasons.  Often it might not be relevant.  

 

And then sometimes you can have differences with a product but they are not enough to be a problem, not important enough, or it's still the best you can find for your circumstances.

 

I think there are two situations where I'd start to think about using the product.  One is where you think there is some larger, really serious problem with the creators.  So, a religious group you think is actually really immoral might be an example.  The other is when the issue speaks to the topic enough to make you wonder about i's suitability.  I feel that way about science and history materials that are YEC - I wonder so much about their grasp of theology and their grasp of science and history that I feel like I wouldn't want to use their products.  (Even so - I have an Abeka history text someone gave me, and there are some sections I've used for particular purposes - lists of geographical features, for example.)

 

For me, my closest example was probably with AO - not the users but the creators - though I appreciate all the CM stuff they've made available, their personal thinking seems so out of line with CM I am not inclined to want to use their stuff much.  

 

 


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#8 Jame

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 10:45 AM

I am a christian and a Native American and have had a really hard time with some of the christian curriculum I've used, because of how they depict christians versus Native Americans. There is one in particular I had a problem with and I decided to go with something else. While I know there were tribes and natives that did horrible things, I also know there were people who claimed to be christians that did horrible things as well. It's hypocritical to bash one group of people, but pretend that another group has done nothing wrong. We use SOTW and supplement with many library books :) It's worked out great for us so far. 


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#9 TracyP

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 01:30 PM

I've had to say no to a program for this reason - especially for any years covering U.S. history. It's unfortunate because I still have it on my shelf and I like a lot of things about it. I have probably pulled it out 20 times thinking "it wasn't really that bad" only to put it away again because it is really that bad.

 

And that is before you pull out the supplementary A Child's Story of America. I actually have that book hidden because I would never want it seen on my shelves. I should get rid of it; I just need to decide between a garbage can and a bonfire...

 

Having said that I'm not sure if you can assume that the curriculum leans a certain way just because of a facebook discussion. If the samples don't make it clear to you, ask here about any specific concerns. You should get plenty of different viewpoints to guide your decision.


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#10 tmstranger

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the discussion.  I think I was just so surprised that I hadn't come across this "bias" in any of their samples, so I was suddenly concerned about what else I could be missing. 

 

I use SOTW, and we supplement a lot (mostly for my 8th grader), but for high school, this curriculum was definitely a top choice.  I'm sure if I'm still thinking of it for next year, I will come and bombard the board with questions! LOL! 


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#11 Julie Smith

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 03:18 PM

As a spin off.

There is, what I think is a great science fiction, “what if”book about Christopher Columbus. It is called, “The redemption of Christopher Columbus”. Half the book is well researched fact, the other half is fiction. This is a book for adults.


http://www.hatrack.c...pastwatch.shtml
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#12 kiana

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 03:25 PM

As a spin off.

There is, what I think is a great science fiction, “what if”book about Christopher Columbus. It is called, “The redemption of Christopher Columbus”. Half the book is well researched fact, the other half is fiction. This is a book for adults.


http://www.hatrack.c...pastwatch.shtml

 

I really enjoyed this book. 



#13 OhElizabeth

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 04:57 PM

Honestly, if this is for high school, I'd just consider it fodder for discussion and move on. You're not going to agree with EVERYTHING in a high school text, and that's an age when you're trying to teach them to think and analyze viewpoints. 

 

If the book gets you 70-80% of the way where you wanted to be and you can use it in peace (without losing your sanctification or having constant stress), then just use it and consider it an opportunity to discuss.


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#14 Terabith

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 05:14 PM

As a spin off.

There is, what I think is a great science fiction, “what if”book about Christopher Columbus. It is called, “The redemption of Christopher Columbus”. Half the book is well researched fact, the other half is fiction. This is a book for adults.


http://www.hatrack.c...pastwatch.shtml

 

I LOVE that book!!!  I've read it.....um, something like 17 times.  I reread it every Columbus Day.  It's the only book I've ever read that makes some of Columbus's depth of commitment to his cause make any amount of sense.  I gave it to my kids to read.  I LOVE that book!



#15 bolt.

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 09:47 AM

Yep! My moment was around a publisher that I buy one subject of curriculum from. (I'm a Christian, and I bought that subject 'Christian' on purpose. The publisher makes more than what I bought.) I received a email invite to an online seminar of some kind. It listed speakers, contributors and organizations from the deepest depths of 'women exist solely to serve a man' patriarchy and 'only young earth believers are truly Christian' perspectives.

I couldn't believe it. The curriculum I bought only says basically, 'creativity is a gift from God and you can use it to glorify him'. I wonder if at some point it's going to bust out with those other messages that are significantly outside of my comfort zone. It decreases my trust in the publisher.
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#16 fralala

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 11:58 AM

I see it as a major flaw in a textbook or curriculum if it doesn't force its users to distinguish between fact and opinion, between beliefs based upon faith and those based upon evidence. As I tell my kids, the more you know about something, the harder it becomes to make facile judgments and the more you are forced to think.

 

Whether it's through outright historical manipulation or lies of omission (a "neutral" history if you will, to liken it to a similar issue with science texts), I would avoid a history curriculum whose users don't seem to be interested in dissent and critical thinking. While I'm a big believer in content knowledge, the ability to imagine and argue for different possibilities for a historian can't be underestimated. So my question would be: what is the main intention of this curriculum and does it sync with my intention to give my kids the knowledge and skills they will need to engage one day, personally or professionally, with people who have studied using different sources and textbooks?

 

(Just to be clear, I don't assume that someone who holds a different P.O.V. than I do isn't interested in critical thinking, but if there's one thing I took away as a history major, it's that if you walk into a room-- virtual or real-- where everybody is smugly agreeing about some aspect of history, your first impulse should be the "But have you read...and what about...?" Regardless of whether you would have agreed with them before hearing those darned smug tones! I look for a history curriculum that will give my kids the tools to de-smug-ify.)


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#17 nixpix5

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 05:30 PM

I see it as a major flaw in a textbook or curriculum if it doesn't force its users to distinguish between fact and opinion, between beliefs based upon faith and those based upon evidence. As I tell my kids, the more you know about something, the harder it becomes to make facile judgments and the more you are forced to think.

Whether it's through outright historical manipulation or lies of omission (a "neutral" history if you will, to liken it to a similar issue with science texts), I would avoid a history curriculum whose users don't seem to be interested in dissent and critical thinking. While I'm a big believer in content knowledge, the ability to imagine and argue for different possibilities for a historian can't be underestimated. So my question would be: what is the main intention of this curriculum and does it sync with my intention to give my kids the knowledge and skills they will need to engage one day, personally or professionally, with people who have studied using different sources and textbooks?

(Just to be clear, I don't assume that someone who holds a different P.O.V. than I do isn't interested in critical thinking, but if there's one thing I took away as a history major, it's that if you walk into a room-- virtual or real-- where everybody is smugly agreeing about some aspect of history, your first impulse should be the "But have you read...and what about...?" Regardless of whether you would have agreed with them before hearing those darned smug tones! I look for a history curriculum that will give my kids the tools to de-smug-ify.)


I like this.

To piggyback a bit, I like when textbook authors give all sides to an argument and allow for that deep critical thinking. I also fume like no tomorrow though when science books talk about facts be it Christian or secular. The only facts that exist in science are within the laws of physics, otherwise it is a theory and I want my kids to know this with every fiber of their being. I want them to always think, question, be able to develop mechanisms of action for scientific problems and apply puzzle pieces found in science while still fully grasping the limitations of our scientific tools. I want them to know what happens when we tag a protein to fluoresce it under a microscope and how we have altered the protein in a way that limits what we can say about it while still appreciating how much we can see and determine for example. I want them to know the limits of western blots and neuronal patch clamping, brain MRI studies and the like while cautiously rejoicing when tidbits align across tools.

I want them to be truly and deeply informed and therefore I am the pickiest person on the planet when looking for solid science texts.


I feel similarly about history texts. I want my children to have an accurate picture of history while understanding both our good and bad roots as a country. I definitely do not like any textbook that pushes an agenda.
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#18 Rose M

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 08:35 PM

I see it as a major flaw in a textbook or curriculum if it doesn't force its users to distinguish between fact and opinion, between beliefs based upon faith and those based upon evidence. As I tell my kids, the more you know about something, the harder it becomes to make facile judgments and the more you are forced to think.

 

Whether it's through outright historical manipulation or lies of omission (a "neutral" history if you will, to liken it to a similar issue with science texts), I would avoid a history curriculum whose users don't seem to be interested in dissent and critical thinking. While I'm a big believer in content knowledge, the ability to imagine and argue for different possibilities for a historian can't be underestimated. So my question would be: what is the main intention of this curriculum and does it sync with my intention to give my kids the knowledge and skills they will need to engage one day, personally or professionally, with people who have studied using different sources and textbooks?

 

(Just to be clear, I don't assume that someone who holds a different P.O.V. than I do isn't interested in critical thinking, but if there's one thing I took away as a history major, it's that if you walk into a room-- virtual or real-- where everybody is smugly agreeing about some aspect of history, your first impulse should be the "But have you read...and what about...?" Regardless of whether you would have agreed with them before hearing those darned smug tones! I look for a history curriculum that will give my kids the tools to de-smug-ify.)

 

I really agree with this. We agree with the R&S world-view and consequently use it for history but I really don't appreciate that the other sides of the story are not spelled out. I try to add some critical essay topics and research to supplement the text. These types of history books just seem to be written for the purpose of pushing the authors world-view rather than encouraging discernment. If your world-view is the best way then it should be able to hold up to a critical eye.


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#19 nixpix5

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 11:46 PM

I really agree with this. We agree with the R&S world-view and consequently use it for history but I really don't appreciate that the other sides of the story are not spelled out. I try to add some critical essay topics and research to supplement the text. These types of history books just seem to be written for the purpose of pushing the authors world-view rather than encouraging discernment. If your world-view is the best way then it should be able to hold up to a critical eye.


100% yes! I love this so much "If your worldview is the best way then it should be able to hold up to a critical eye." I want that on a bumper sticker ;)

As a Christian I am absolutely comfortable teaching my kids from secular science books and everything there is about it. If our Christian worldview is sound then that will not sway but only enhance their faith. I believe that. Hiding arguments comes back up to bite people in the bottoms later.
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#20 RootAnn

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:55 AM

I feel similarly about history texts. I want my children to have an accurate picture of history while understanding both our good and bad roots as a country. I definitely do not like any textbook that pushes an agenda.

 

SWB wrote an interesting commentary on history textbooks & bias. There is a link at the bottom of the link to the longer commentary it is based on. I think it fits into the broader discussion here. 

:lurk5:


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#21 Bluegoat

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:40 AM

FWIW, I actually find the general public's sense of how to evaluate history is even worse than their sense of how to evaluate science.  Even university grads often think they are meant to evaluate history like science.



#22 Rose M

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 09:23 AM

FWIW, I actually find the general public's sense of how to evaluate history is even worse than their sense of how to evaluate science.  Even university grads often think they are meant to evaluate history like science.

 

I haven't noticed this but I don't doubt that it could be true. Could you elaborate? Maybe in a different thread if you think that would be more appropriate.



#23 Bluegoat

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 12:38 PM

I haven't noticed this but I don't doubt that it could be true. Could you elaborate? Maybe in a different thread if you think that would be more appropriate.

 

I'll try here, and if people want to talk about it we can move it elsewhere.

 

Not everyone has an idea how to evaluate science, but a lot of educated people do have a sense of it.  There's a significant group that tends to think the kinds of methods or standards science uses should be applied to every subject.

 

The thing is, science applies to what is supposed to be a pretty clearly defined group of phenomena - physical, testable, empirical.  

 

So you can't apply it, say, to philosophy, which often talks about ideas that are not physical, that could never be tested.  There may be cases where there are parts of a philosophical argument that deals with that sort of thing, but often it worn't.

 

And with history - well, science can help with interpreting physical evidence and a few other things.  But you are talking about unique events that have happened in the past.  The expectations for interpreting evidence are not much like what a scientist might look for.  

 

It's interesting, I find, when people actually look at historic, or even historic/scientific problems, and see how they are understood - they are often really surprised.  I was with a group once learning about the study of early hominids - arguably a fairly "scientific" study of the past.  They were actually kind of shocked at how little in terms of physical objects they had, how much filling in of gaps, and to realize that there was really limited ability to test theories.

 

Another example I see a lot is the question of whether Jesus was a historical person.  This isn't really that unique compared to other persons in the ancient world, except that t no one really goes to any trouble about someone like Hannibal, unless they really are keen on history.  But people often try and argue that the evidence for Jesus is not enough, it doesn't fit with what they'd expect for looking at a modern or scientific question - but the problem is, they really have no idea what historians expect for evidence, what is considered reliable, and why.  So they may tend to dismiss the gospel accounts, because they don't fit modern expectations, but which historians consider to be a good source, even if they aren't religious people themselves.


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#24 nixpix5

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:01 PM

I'll try here, and if people want to talk about it we can move it elsewhere.

Not everyone has an idea how to evaluate science, but a lot of educated people do have a sense of it. There's a significant group that tends to think the kinds of methods or standards science uses should be applied to every subject.

The thing is, science applies to what is supposed to be a pretty clearly defined group of phenomena - physical, testable, empirical.

So you can't apply it, say, to philosophy, which often talks about ideas that are not physical, that could never be tested. There may be cases where there are parts of a philosophical argument that deals with that sort of thing, but often it worn't.

And with history - well, science can help with interpreting physical evidence and a few other things. But you are talking about unique events that have happened in the past. The expectations for interpreting evidence are not much like what a scientist might look for.

It's interesting, I find, when people actually look at historic, or even historic/scientific problems, and see how they are understood - they are often really surprised. I was with a group once learning about the study of early hominids - arguably a fairly "scientific" study of the past. They were actually kind of shocked at how little in terms of physical objects they had, how much filling in of gaps, and to realize that there was really limited ability to test theories.

Another example I see a lot is the question of whether Jesus was a historical person. This isn't really that unique compared to other persons in the ancient world, except that t no one really goes to any trouble about someone like Hannibal, unless they really are keen on history. But people often try and argue that the evidence for Jesus is not enough, it doesn't fit with what they'd expect for looking at a modern or scientific question - but the problem is, they really have no idea what historians expect for evidence, what is considered reliable, and why. So they may tend to dismiss the gospel accounts, because they don't fit modern expectations, but which historians consider to be a good source, even if they aren't religious people themselves.

Bluegoat, I feel like I should just follow you around to threads liking all of your comments. :) I was thinking this exact same thing yesterday. We have so very little evidence of some many historical people or even theories generated in science based on historical evidence. I think more is required of Jesus because of what is seen as the effect Christianity has within a cultural framework. Otherwise, we could compare what we know about Jesus with what we actually know about Socrates and most people hold that Socrates did exist. We don't have a religion based on Socrates unless we think of philosophical thought leading to the branches of science.

This topic is obviously far of the beaten path of the original post but interesting :)

ETA: I know my post is full of typos...posting from a Samsung and "helpful" typing corrections leads to a hot mess. Hopefully you get the basics.

Edited by nixpix5, 13 October 2017 - 03:03 PM.

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