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Just venting--Secular Thought Police


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32 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

It's not just a "lack of evolution" in Bookshark that is the issue. Bookshark uses RS4K for science, which was written by a Creationist. The author claims it is "neutral," but has also stated (to a Christian audience) that her goal is to gradually bring people around to the Creationist viewpoint. We've had long conversations in the past, right here in the Hive, about Keller and her agenda. RS4K includes subtle references to creation, and avoids any mention of the age of the Earth or the origin of the universe. REAL Science Odyssey's Earth and Astronomy units discuss the Big Bang theory, the age of the Earth, the geological timeline, etc., beginning in 1st grade.

Earth and Astronomy was not out at the time of my conversations with the SEA peeps. At that time, there was nothing for the younger grades that discussed evolution or age of the earth. There was Life and Earth & Space level 1.  And none of that info about RSK4 was given why I asked. I was told "We will not discuss this", and that was the end. I wasn't on WTM back then, either. 

I am not lying about my experiences. I am also not going to search for 3 year old posts on SEA to prove I am not misrepresenting the conversation. 

 

 

32 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

It's not just a "lack of evolution" in Bookshark that is the issue. Bookshark uses RS4K for science, which was written by a Creationist. The author claims it is "neutral," but has also stated (to a Christian audience) that her goal is to gradually bring people around to the Creationist viewpoint. We've had long conversations in the past, right here in the Hive, about Keller and her agenda. RS4K includes subtle references to creation, and avoids any mention of the age of the Earth or the origin of the universe. REAL Science Odyssey's Earth and Astronomy units discuss the Big Bang theory, the age of the Earth, the geological timeline, etc., beginning in 1st 

 

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True crisis homeschoolers will be gone once the crisis is over. And I suspect a good number will be gone even before the crisis is over. 

This thread has been very helpful for me. I am a Christian homeschooler and we very much do science from a Creation YE point of view. I will try to be more careful in the future when recomme

Btw, I am relieved and somewhat gratified to announce that I've been kicked out of that group for asking those questions. They've saved me the trouble of removing myself. At this point I feel like it'

I do think that "neutral" science would be problematic at the secondary school level for biology, geology, or astronomy. Time and change over time are pretty fundamental to understanding those at a reasonable high school level.

For elementary levels I really don't think neutral science is harmful, most kids aren't ready to grasp really long periods of time or the complexities of evolution at that age anyway. It's easy enough to supplement for kids who are ready and/or interested in more.

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15 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

So, an evolution free curriculum by a secular author is "safe" whereas an evolution free curriculum by a Christian author is presumably "unsafe". So they really do evaluate at least partially on the curriculum creator's personal beliefs. The line of thinking you describe explains pretty much everything I experienced. No wonder they come across as so arbitrary, they pretty much are. It's a pity they even felt like they had to rationalize that, but with the stance they are taking, I guess they have to. Pandia Press hasn't announced revisions to those science curriculum that I've heard; I bet Earth & Space is still the same.

I don't know if it has been revised. At one point, there was talk of Life level 1 being rewritten, but I don't know if that is still part of their plan.

I am glad there are secular science options, but those products aren't a good fit for us.  My son didn't find them very interesting. I wish there was more variety. 😕

 

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2 minutes ago, MissLemon said:

I don't know if it has been revised. At one point, there was talk of Life level 1 being rewritten, but I don't know if that is still part of their plan.

I am glad there are secular science options, but those products aren't a good fit for us.  My son didn't find them very interesting. I wish there was more variety. 😕

 

I really love the style of Jeannie Fulbright's elementary series (published by Apologia, so unfortunately YEC); I'd love to see someone make a secular program like that.

In my dream life where I get an extra twelve hours to every day I would write one. 

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Another vote that this is a pretty odd depiction of SEA from where I stand. I spoke at the SEA conference, I know Blair and other SEA founders and involved folks. I also find their policies pretty restrictive and like Correlano, there are some religious things I rec to friends and clients sometimes so I admit that I occasionally roll my eyes about what's not allowed there... but they're super clear about what those rules are and I don't find them confusing in the least. It's a giant group and they're pretty clear that they don't allow discussion of certain topics - including questioning the rules or discussing some of the things that can just spiral out of control there. Like, ages ago, I witnessed a discussion of HSLDA. It was clear that some people needed some education about what HSLDA's deal was - but the mods just shut down and removed the thread. Because it's not among the stuff they want to deal with. Fair enough. From the perspective of the mods, some things are just going to spiral out of control and in a large group - they just enforce them. They made their policies. They're enforced by fallible humans, but pretty evenly. The group has become popular for a reason. A lot of homeschoolers specifically wanted a space like that online with those rules. They find it refreshing.

They are absolutely evaluating partially on the author's beliefs when those beliefs bleed into the text. If you're someone who is comfortable with religious materials, you may not see it. But I assure you that other people do. And that's where this particular group has drawn their lines.

For people who are homeschooling exclusively secularly, having to play figure out if this is religious is EXHAUSTING sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a program and spent forever looking for a clue about whether it's religious. SEA is a safe space away from having to constantly question everything. They say how they do it. If you don't like it, seriously, just leave them be. There are so many worse issues in homeschooling right now than a quibble over a few programs and whether the religious content in them should be allowed in a single group.

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19 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

It's not just a "lack of evolution" in Bookshark that is the issue. Bookshark uses RS4K for science, which was written by a Creationist. The author claims it is "neutral," but has also stated (to a Christian audience) that her goal is to gradually bring people around to the Creationist viewpoint. We've had long conversations in the past, right here in the Hive, about Keller and her agenda. RS4K includes subtle references to creation, and avoids any mention of the age of the Earth or the origin of the universe. REAL Science Odyssey's Earth and Astronomy units discuss the Big Bang theory, the age of the Earth, the geological timeline, etc., beginning in 1st grade.

 

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They are absolutely evaluating partially on the author's beliefs when those beliefs bleed into the text. If you're someone who is comfortable with religious materials, you may not see it. But I assure you that other people do.


I just wanted to quote these because from a secular standpoint it's so important. This is the one subject where I would never ever use curriculum written by a creationist under any circumstances. Not believing in evolution or the big bang is going to trickle down through all the aspects of science. Some people who don't understand why it's a problem not to mention evolution in elementary don't realize that these programs purposefully avoid references to anything in science that would challenge creationism. This kind of thing is why SEA is so important. I feel so strongly about this...imagine math textbooks by someone who didn't believe in algebra, because that's pretty much how I feel about it. I'm not going to buy math textbooks at any level from them because I find their entire understanding of math extremely suspect, at best. 

Also the reason the public school science standards in my state are so bad is that the science textbook standards are not decided by scientists, or science educators.
 

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7 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

Since we are discussing,  why is Clear Water Press- Cover Story and One Year Adventure Novel not secular?

I'm pretty sure that the breakdown that I read of this was actually here, on the WTM forums years ago. IIRC, the program mentions God in several places. I know there have been a couple of secular users who were like, wait, what? And that's exactly what I mean about how exhausting this all is. Where on the Clear Water Press site does it tell you this? Nowhere that I've ever found. 

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2 minutes ago, Farrar said:

For people who are homeschooling exclusively secularly, having to play figure out if this is religious is EXHAUSTING sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a program and spent forever looking for a clue about whether it's religious.

Yes!  I have wasted so many hours of my life on this!

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1 minute ago, Sk8ermaiden said:

 



Also the reason the public school science standards in my state are so bad is that the science textbook standards are not decided by scientists, or science educators.
 

And the reason public school history standards in my state are so bad is that the history textbook standards are not decided by historians, or history educators......and I am actually a historian........it is disheartening. Maybe someday I will have time to write a secular history text for the younger grades that is not whitewashed. I would love something SOTWish that fit the bill but as of now I use SOTW and just bring in tons of outside resources.

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16 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

Since we are discussing,  why is Clear Water Press- Cover Story and One Year Adventure Novel not secular?

Okay, actually, they almost admit it on their FAQ. Geez, could they be more cagey. "Nonsectarian" 🙄 They're Christian, that's what they're saying. They should NOT be approved. But they're trying to be all like, ooh, we COULD be approved. 

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The One Year Adventure Novel is published by Clear Water Press. Please contact your educational representative to find out if Clear Water Press is an approved vendor in your area or program. We may also be listed as “One Year Adventure Novel.”

Qualifications for government funding vary, but in general, yes, we are approved for government funding because we are nonsectarian. If we have not yet been considered as a potential vendor, your representative will contact us directly.

 

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13 minutes ago, maize said:

I really love the style of Jeannie Fulbright's elementary series (published by Apologia, so unfortunately YEC); I'd love to see someone make a secular program like that.

In my dream life where I get an extra twelve hours to every day I would write one. 

Yeah, I would love that, too. I have often wished for a secular program like it.

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22 minutes ago, Farrar said:

They are absolutely evaluating partially on the author's beliefs when those beliefs bleed into the text. If you're someone who is comfortable with religious materials, you may not see it. But I assure you that other people do. And that's where this particular group has drawn their lines.

For people who are homeschooling exclusively secularly, having to play figure out if this is religious is EXHAUSTING sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a program and spent forever looking for a clue about whether it's religious. SEA is a safe space away from having to constantly question everything. They say how they do it. If you don't like it, seriously, just leave them be. There are so many worse issues in homeschooling right now than a quibble over a few programs and whether the religious content in them should be allowed in a single group.

Yes, but there was a double standard, and the rationale was lame. In the content subjects, evaluating the author's beliefs makes sense, but evaluating the curriculum on its own merits (for nonsecular content) should take higher priority. Every time.

I don't think I've ever, ever had to spend hours figuring out whether a curriculum is secular or not. Usually the website, samples, and author's bio taken together make it pretty clear. Then again, years ago I had to make the choice between using non-secular curriculum that worked for my son or secular curriculum that didn't. I chose education over ideology. Maybe that's a timesaver when researching curriculum. If I was absolutely against using any curriculum with the slightest religious influence, including the author's personal beliefs, I suppose it could take a lot more time.

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23 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

So, an evolution free curriculum by a secular author is "safe" whereas an evolution free curriculum by a Christian author is presumably "unsafe". So they really do evaluate at least partially on the curriculum creator's personal beliefs. The line of thinking you describe explains pretty much everything I experienced. No wonder they come across as so arbitrary, they pretty much are. It's a pity they even felt like they had to rationalize that, but with the stance they are taking, I guess they have to. Pandia Press hasn't announced revisions to those science curriculum that I've heard; I bet Earth & Space is still the same.

Well you'd lose that bet; Earth & Environment 1 and Astronomy 1 include the Big Bang Theory, age of the Earth, and geologic timeline. That is for grades 1-4. 

If you think that a strictly secular group should be recommending science curriculum written by a Creationist who includes subtle references to creation and design in her books, and who has stated her agenda to push a Creationist perspective, then we will have to agree to disagree.

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13 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I'm pretty sure that the breakdown that I read of this was actually here, on the WTM forums years ago. IIRC, the program mentions God in several places. I know there have been a couple of secular users who were like, wait, what? And that's exactly what I mean about how exhausting this all is. Where on the Clear Water Press site does it tell you this? Nowhere that I've ever found. 

I can definitely attest to how exhausting it can be.  I am not a member of the SEA FB page but I am assuming they would not recommend Ellen Mchenry's materials as secular. And we've used them and heard them as secular on these boards... and it took such a long time (and an email exchange with the author) to realize that she is YE.  For our purposes it was irrelevant, we still got a lot out of the units in the early days, but apparently in the latest Rocks and Dirt Unit she posits a theory to refute tectonic plate theory.  That would have been quite the surprise and was literally the first time I realized what "neutral" curriculum might imply. 

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1 minute ago, Corraleno said:

Well you'd lose that bet; Earth & Environment 1 and Astronomy 1 include the Big Bang Theory, age of the Earth, and geologic timeline. That is for grades 1-4. 

If you think that a strictly secular group should be recommending science curriculum written by a Creationist who includes subtle references to creation and design in her books, and who has stated her agenda to push a Creationist perspective, then we will have to agree to disagree.

I already mentioned my problem with the conversation MissLemon reported.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

It's not really "education over ideology," though. For instance, say you're a Jewish homeschooler like myself... you might genuinely want a space which is not Christian in your homeschool. The USA Is already very, very Christian. You get tired of people not knowing what to say to you when you make it clear your kid goes to Hebrew school and not Sunday school, you know? 

Sure, I hear you. That was a choice I had to make because of my particular circumstances. It was that way for me.

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3 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

Yes, but there was a double standard, and the rationale was lame. In the content subjects, evaluating the author's beliefs makes sense, but evaluating the curriculum on its own merits (for nonsecular content) should take higher priority. Every time.

I don't think I've ever, ever had to spend hours figuring out whether a curriculum is secular or not. Usually the website, samples, and author's bio taken together make it pretty clear. Then again, years ago I had to make the choice between using non-secular curriculum that worked for my son or secular curriculum that didn't. I chose education over ideology. Maybe that's a timesaver when researching curriculum.

I see absolutely no double standard. Yes, I read the thread. 

The discussion of One Year Adventure Novel is one where it's simply not clear that it contains religious content. You have to know to look and look hard. Art of Argument is another one that immediately comes to mind - it's so not clear that the program is religious from the website. In fact, CAP in general never states that every one of their programs may contain religious content. There are plenty of clues, like that they sell to Christian schools and that their authors went to Messiah college... and oh, this program is religious, but what about that one, is it or not, because the About doesn't say anything about religion...  sigh. Honestly, it's a PITA to have to read the bio of an author or teacher and look up whether the college where they got their degree is Christian to make a guess as to whether it's going to be a religious program. That's a method I've had to do for PA Homeschoolers and AIM Academy classes. AIM designates some as Christian. PA Homeschoolers basically says they're all secular. But we all know some teachers at each are teaching from a faith based perspective. Which is fine. But, good grief, I hate having to read the tea leaves deep inside a teacher's personal web page and search reviews here and elsewhere to figure out if they're going to spin US government as a Christian topic and encourage discussion of religion in the class.

If those things don't actually matter to you, that's FINE. But also, don't act like they're not allowed to matter to others and that your perspective is somehow superior educationally. To many of us - both secular and religious - ideology is part of what makes a product or course better educationally. Those things are not inseparable. 

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35 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

Since we are discussing,  why is Clear Water Press- Cover Story and One Year Adventure Novel not secular?

One Year Adventure Novel definitely includes religious content, and there is one chapter in particular in which the author makes very derogatory comments about non-Christians. I don't remember if it was on the website or in the actual materials that they stated quite explicitly that they teach from a Christian worldview.

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11 minutes ago, square_25 said:

Ugh, right?? People don't even bother to mention it. I've spent 2 years on this board before buying any curriculum, and I'm realizing that people will suggest religious math curriculum without even checking whether that's OK with someone or not. And personally, I would not be comfortable with that, however good the curriculum. 

I can't tell you how many times I've come into threads on local groups where someone says, "I'd like a secular program for ___" and there are literally half a dozen religious suggestions in the first dozen comments. If people don't see it, they're not aware of how exhausting it can be.

I know many secular folks who have thought they did their due diligence only to end up with a program that mentions God or going to Sunday school or other such things constantly with the assumption that the student will agree with these as personal experiences.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

I feel like this problem would be solved by authors being upfront about where they are coming from... the idea that you have to scour the author bio or look at large volumes of samples or post on a message board to figure out whether something is secular is problematic. 

They want to have it both ways. That, or it never occurs to them that anyone will think differently from them because they have a pretty limited worldview.

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5 minutes ago, square_25 said:

No, I understand. I'm just saying that's where the hardline stances wind up coming from -- people who really don't want to navigate things that are "mostly secular." 

I guess I find it useful to figure out WHY people are behaving the way they are, even if I'm frustrated at them for being less open to discussion than I wish they were. 

I hear you. It's a very human thing, what they're doing. The not open to discussion part, I think, is the most troublesome part of this. I feel they should be able to explain their reasoning when people ask.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

I feel like this problem would be solved by authors being upfront about where they are coming from... the idea that you have to scour the author bio or look at large volumes of samples or post on a message board to figure out whether something is secular is problematic. 

Well, with the rise of homeschool/charter hybrids, and states that provide funding for homeschool curriculum, hiding the religious content of curriculum can be financially advantageous for the publisher and a selling point for those who do want religiously-biased materials and would love to have them paid for with public funds.

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2 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I'd guess you're right that they want to sell to audiences that are kinda secular but still culturally Christian and aren't bothered by the content, even though they might not choose it. I would guess people who actually really really don't want Christian content are in the minority. 

That and the number of secular homeschoolers has been tiny compared to the number of evangelicals for years. The market is growing now though.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

Again, I can tell you how people get here, which is that people get asked the same questions OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Then the admins get tired and frustrated of repeating the same thing. Now, I happen to really value civil debate, so my personal decision was to allow discussion in my group, even over things that came up a ton. Of course, the flip side to that is that when you allow constant re-litigation of what is secular, you may alienate your core audience of secular homeschoolers who came to SEA as a safe space... it's a tricky balance. I think it's honestly a balance that requires a large number of hours and some very sensitive and mindful moderators. 

Well, they could solve that easily with some kind of written reference, an FAQ, or a spreadsheet.  It's not that hard and would be enormously helpful to people just starting out.

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One Year Adventure Novel is a good example of a curriculum that is not entirely upfront about their content — this is the program that lists themselves as "nonsectarian" and suggests that homeschoolers try to get their curriculum covered by school funds. Here is a quote from the blog of a homeschooler (and Hive member?) who used it:

"...This is a curriculum claiming to have a biblical worldview. On principle and because of poor fit for us, I generally avoid these titles. Most tend to be, at best, simply dismissive of other belief systems and usually far worse. I knew that OYAN’s Chapter 18 contained language that belittled nonbelievers, but I’d also heard that was the worst of it, easily discussed with a student and let go. Given my student was not my own child, I planned to forgo the discussion, which worked well, as we had plenty of other matters to discuss.  The video, however, shook me up. Reading his words in the text had not prepared me for hearing his vitriol toward (and poor understanding of) secular humanists. After he misrepresents agnostics and atheists, he backtracks, saying and writing that meaning doesn’t have to come from religion. I can see no purpose to this rant of his other than to wave the flag of his beliefs while denigrating those who find meaning in something other than supernatural."

 

Edited by Corraleno
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1 minute ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

That and the number of secular homeschoolers has been tiny compared to the number of evangelicals for years. The market is growing now though.

The thing is... it hasn't been tiny for a long time. It's been a minority, but hardly a "tiny" one. It's almost impossible to get real data, as we all know, but the survey that the US department of education has suggests that "religious motivations" only describes about a third of homeschoolers today.

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11 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

I hear you. It's a very human thing, what they're doing. The not open to discussion part, I think, is the most troublesome part of this. I feel they should be able to explain their reasoning when people ask.

But they don't owe that to you. They're modding that group as a service to a community - one you're not even really a part of. Blair Lee has blogged about these issues and her views extensively. They don't owe you a discussion or explanation. Like, you're right - that discussing these things is a positive thing in general. But also, not every space has to offer that discussion. I would say that it's like you crossed the border to a foreign country and began accosting people on the street to demand they explain a national law you don't like. Or that you walked into a church board meeting of a random church and expected to have your disagreements with their particular church theology addressed then and there. That's just not the purpose of that group.

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I realize a files section might be helpful for someone who wants to know why a program isn't secular, but with the hundreds of programs out there, it would be a hurculean unpaid effort. And almost all the answers can be found by doing a search in the group.

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Just now, square_25 said:

Well, personally, I've always taken the tack that I will engage with anyone who is willing to engage with me respectfully, and that this is how you win hearts and minds... 😉 I don't know whether I "owe" that to them or not, but as a perpetual skeptic, that's certainly how I like to be treated myself, and I try to do the same for others. 

Sure. That's an excellent trait. And I like that there are forums like this one where we can discuss the nuance and people are often pretty respectful.

But also, I respect that it's a big job to mod a giant group like that. And that discussions like this require work to mod. So they are not under any obligation to offer that discussion or access to it in their space where they have to do the work. They aren't saying the discussion is what's wrong. And, in fact, many of the SEA leaders have engaged in these questions for years on other forums. They just wanted to build one where that was not the focus. One place. That's it.

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I know but sometimes I wonder about that. The number of non-secular hsers to me has always seemed quite a bit higher that 1/3, especially outside of urban areas. I sometimes noticed that a lot of people in evangelical churches started homeschooling because they saw people in their church doing it. So those people, for example, might not have listed religion motivations only on a survey but it would still have been a contributing factor. I live in an extremely liberal area now but I'm still surprised by the number of non-secular homeschoolers I run into. They've been swamped by the crisis homeschoolers now, but it was more than I expected.

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8 minutes ago, Farrar said:

 the survey that the US department of education has suggests that "religious motivations" only describes about a third of homeschoolers today.

But there are plenty of people who don't have "religious motivations" for homeschooling but are religious. And probably an even larger group of homeschoolers that don't mind using curriculum from a religious publisher or author as long as it teaches 2+2=4, ya know?

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2 minutes ago, square_25 said:

Well, personally, I've always taken the tack that I will engage with anyone who is willing to engage with me respectfully, and that this is how you win hearts and minds... 😉 I don't know whether I "owe" that to them or not, but as a perpetual skeptic, that's certainly how I like to be treated myself, and I try to do the same for others. 

I don't know how many people there were in your group, but SEA has more than 60,000 members, so there's just no practical way they can have that same conversation a hundred times a day. People can usually find the information they need by searching the site.

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And I'll add that there have long been dozens of Christian online spaces with a lot of rules. And no one calls them the thought police. They just say, I didn't like that place because ___ and they come here or elsewhere. 

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2 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

I know but sometimes I wonder about that. The number of non-secular hsers to me has always seemed quite a bit higher that 1/3, especially outside of urban areas. I sometimes noticed that a lot of people in evangelical churches started homeschooling because they saw people in their church doing it. So those people, for example, might not have listed religion motivations only on a survey but it would still have been a contributing factor. I live in an extremely liberal area now but I'm still surprised by the number of non-secular homeschoolers I run into. They've been swamped by the crisis homeschoolers now, but it was more than I expected.

I'm also dubious of those particular numbers. But that's an old survey from nearly a decade ago, IIRC. My point is just that I don't think it's fair to say secular homeschoolers are a "tiny" minority. We've been in the mainstream of homeschooling for awhile now.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

To me, personally, figuring out how to greet people who don't necessarily agree with you is an important task when running a group. Like, if people are obstreperous, you of course have to kick them out eventually, but I do think showing them some courtesy at first is a good idea. The problem is that groups like this get into the snarky and unhelpful mode of "Oh, look! It's Clone #4549 of the person who asks "Why isn't XYZ secular again??"" And you wind up reacting to that person as if they are doing it on purpose, like they were also the one who asked the first 4548 times. 

Unless that's your full time job, no, you don't. If you mod a 300 person group, it's easy. As Correlano pointed out, SEA has more than 60,000 members. It's a heavy traffic group. The mods are volunteers. They have to have a line and not think about it. It's not like they're participating in these discussions heavily and getting to know people. They can't. They have to just draw the line and then not think about it. Because otherwise it would be too exhausting for them. They get to have lives.

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

Right now, it has 10,000 members. Not quite as big, but not impossible to compare, either. I have, in fact, spend time thinking about how to create a culture that allows one not to answer that question 100 times a day... 

You must be looking at the wrong group. From the page today:

"You and 62,795 others are members"

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1 minute ago, square_25 said:

I swear I've run large groups before 😉 . I know how hard it is. I also understand the frustration of members who come in and get shut down for questions that feel innocent to them. I really do try to look on both sides of that. 

I'm not saying it can't be done. But also, they picked a way. It's not evil or rude or horrible. It doesn't make them "thought police." They don't owe anyone anything, especially not someone who doesn't even really belong to their community and whose main purpose seems to be to get everyone to explain themselves. 

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42 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Okay, actually, they almost admit it on their FAQ. Geez, could they be more cagey. "Nonsectarian" 🙄 They're Christian, that's what they're saying. They should NOT be approved. But they're trying to be all like, ooh, we COULD be approved. 

Yes, if you state that you are nonsectarian on your website, you are clearly not secular. It makes perfect sense to me that they don't fit into the SEA recommendations. 

20 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I feel like this problem would be solved by authors being upfront about where they are coming from... the idea that you have to scour the author bio or look at large volumes of samples or post on a message board to figure out whether something is secular is problematic. 

So much this. 

16 minutes ago, square_25 said:

I'd guess you're right that they want to sell to audiences that are kinda secular but still culturally Christian and aren't bothered by the content, even though they might not choose it. I would guess people who actually really really don't want Christian content are in the minority. 

I think someone mentioned this already - they want to sell to charter schools. 

10 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

Well, they could solve that easily with some kind of written reference, an FAQ, or a spreadsheet.  It's not that hard and would be enormously helpful to people just starting out.

They have an extensive file section that includes a lot of the topics you said they don't discuss: Charlotte Mason, why neutral science isn't neutral, why SEA advocates for exclusive use of secular materials, RS4K - it's really quite extensive and a great place to get more information on where they're coming from. 

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11 minutes ago, Farrar said:

But they don't owe that to you. They're modding that group as a service to a community - one you're not even really a part of. Blair Lee has blogged about these issues and her views extensively. They don't owe you a discussion or explanation. Like, you're right - that discussing these things is a positive thing in general. But also, not every space has to offer that discussion. I would say that it's like you crossed the border to a foreign country and began accosting people on the street to demand they explain a national law you don't like. Or that you walked into a church board meeting of a random church and expected to have your disagreements with their particular church theology addressed then and there. That's just not the purpose of that group.

Well, I joined the group, and was recommending secular curriculum along with everybody else. So, ideological purity issues aside, I would say that made me a member. I got booted when I started asking questions. But you're right, they don't have to engage in dialogue or explain arbitrary sounding decisions to people who are genuinely bewildered.  I do think it odd that a group that advocates a particular ideology would not be willing to explain themselves more thoroughly, considering how (relatively) extreme their stance is. Yeah, I do think it's being the thought police when they delete any mention of curriculum they disagree with or ban people who ask questions. I'm not going to give them a free pass for that. I wouldn't give a free pass to a religious group that did that either, so please don't imply that I'm only venting because they are secular. Still, I think your comparison is apt. Thinking of SEA as a church of true believers is probably more accurate than thinking of it as a group of people with a variety of beliefs who happen to prefer secular materials.

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2 minutes ago, square_25 said:

True believers of what, though? As far as I can tell, what you're describing is them not wanting even a whiff of religion in their curricula. Which, frankly, is what I would want if I were looking for a curriculum myself, and I would not want to wade through "kinda, sorta" curricula. Now, I would also be happy to talk to you about why your suggestions are only "kinda, sorta" secular, so it's not that I agree with them about approach... but you can see why they want to stake out this space, right? It doesn't seem like zealotry to me. 

Nothing. The point is that they'll defend themselves and their beliefs in a knee-jerk, arbitrary way any time they perceive they are being challenged and ban people in that same spirit.

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43 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

One Year Adventure Novel definitely includes religious content, and there is one chapter in particular in which the author makes very derogatory comments about non-Christians. I don't remember if it was on the website or in the actual materials that they stated quite explicitly that they teach from a Christian worldview.

Thank you for this specific answer, have looked for it and did not know!  I have considered OYAN for my novel writing DD (we have used Nanowrimo and just various books about writing novels).  This is why a real answer needs to be given rather than- We don't mention this program.   I would even support a list of programs and why they don't meet the criteria, using specific examples.   

 

I left organized religion 20 years ago- the judgemental kind.  I see that same type dogma on the left and in political circles and I see it on SEA.  That isn't necessarily the fault of the owners, its the people who join.  Its like the flip side of a coin, two sides of a pendulum.  I find it annoying.   I do like to go there and give advice,  and I find i like the older kid group better than the regular group.  

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2 minutes ago, square_25 said:

Yeah, I do not tend to like that method of dealing with dissent. Did you PM with them at all? 

I got booted before I had the chance, which was disappointing. I was asking out of exasperation and genuine curiosity.

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18 minutes ago, Mrs. Tharp said:

Well, they can always just refer people to their files. Or tell people their recommendations aren't secular and leave the thread up. That would definitely be easier to forcing folks to delete.

Talking about religious choices is counter to their purpose, though. 

And Facebook is, by its nature, not a good place to leave up recommendations counter to your purpose with just a comment about it not being secular. Unlike a forum like this, where you read one reply and then the next, replies on FB get nested into sets of replies and you only see the 'parent' of that particular set. If there are many replies, you'll only see a few of them and an indication like "79 comments" and you have to click repeatedly to get those comments to show. And then click again and AGAIN to see the replies to those particular comments. They could make that comment about a recommendation not being secular ten times and still have very few people see it. So, I would certainly guess that's why they don't do it that way. 

 

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I think SEA is a bit...over the top. I was in that group for a long time, and left for a year or two because I just thought they were ridiculous. Someone would ask about the Charlotte Mason philosophy and I’d get my hand slapped for suggesting that the best way to learn about her method was to go to her actual books, because all the books ABOUT the CM method were just other peoples distillations of it.

I get it, though, I really do. When I started homeschooling 7-8 years ago, there was nothing for secular homeschoolers. A handful of curricula and if those didn’t work for you (RSO for instance, is dry as sawdust and we hated it, but what else was there back then?) - you were shit outta luck. So, I see the reason why a group like SEA was started, and why they opted to stick to a strict set of regulations. I’ve worked for them in the past - and I think that they never really thought they’d be a group of 60k+ members. 

I think people still think that SEA is the only voice in the secular homeschool world, simply because it’s SUCH a big group and they really do wield a lot of power. If you are a curriculum creator and you get blacklisted by SEA, for whatever reason, that is going to be a huge hit to your bottom line. I have some issues with the way things are handled by them, and I am not keen on the gatekeeping that happens in that group. I don’t have a ton of respect for the group owner, really. I just tune that all out for the most part, because I remind myself that despite the size of their group - the small number of people who actually make the decisions about SEA are just regular ole’ homeschooling parents like the rest of us. I don’t have to define my homeschooling choices based on the definitions that SEA uses for their group. 

There are other groups. SEA doesn’t reflect my own personal values all of the time, and I am basically read-only in there now. It may have its downsides, but it IS a gigantic group of people who generally are likeminded and there are some good posts and good discussions in there. 

As an interesting side note, I have had discussions recently with people who think SEA is way too strict. I have had an equal number of convos about them where folks think they’re NOT SECULAR ENOUGH. They recommend Pandia Press, and BYL, and those aren’t truly secular. So...different strokes for different folks, I guess? 

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1 hour ago, Above The Rowan said:

I think SEA is a bit...over the top. I was in that group for a long time, and left for a year or two because I just thought they were ridiculous. Someone would ask about the Charlotte Mason philosophy and I’d get my hand slapped for suggesting that the best way to learn about her method was to go to her actual books, because all the books ABOUT the CM method were just other peoples distillations of it.
 


As an interesting side note, I have had discussions recently with people who think SEA is way too strict. I have had an equal number of convos about them where folks think they’re NOT SECULAR ENOUGH. They recommend Pandia Press, and BYL, and those aren’t truly secular. So...different strokes for different folks, I guess? 

Yeah, one of the questions I was asking when I got booted was about Charlotte Mason. That philosophy is NOT secular in its original form, and here they were allowing all these curriculum based on her methods, but banning entire other curriculum because of their Christian worldviews. And that was where I was heading with that--that if some curriculum get policed based on the creator's philosophy, why aren't all of them? (Excluding science, here.) Particularly if they are taking the point of view that curriculum is bannable solely due to author's views trickling down into the curriculum. I think the caveat they are offering right now with Pandia and BYL is that authors are working to modify them so that they become secular--but that still doesn't solve the underlying problem with philosophy for either provider. (I asked about the Classical philosophy too.)

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6 hours ago, Danae said:

Seriously?  Gah!  I was going to piece together 4 of her units for 7th grade Life Science. 

We used it for Elementary but by Middle School we definitely were teaching evolution.  We used Big History Project, which was great.  I remember Farrar mentioning once how much the Protozoa unit study worked it's way around evolution -- it's some of the earliest microscopic life but no mention of age or evolution? And how do you talk about rocks without talking about age or carbon dating or tectonic plates?  So weird.  

We loved the elements unit though, and the botany and I definitely don't regret using them. But considering how long it took me to work out the viewpoint from which these are written, which of course is NOT stated anywhere on her webpage... I can see how it would be nice to have a place where that is considered NOT secular.  

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This thread has been very helpful for me.

I am a Christian homeschooler and we very much do science from a Creation YE point of view.

I will try to be more careful in the future when recommending curriculum if someone asks for a secular POV that I check carefully before posting.  I know that some of our choices are very much Christian, but there are others that I really would have to check.

I mean, if someone asks for a secular curriculum I know not to recommend Abeka, BJU, Apologia, or Notgrass.  But for other books such as Saxon or Joy Hakim (which I haven't read in a while) or IEW or random books that show up in our house -- I sometimes don't remember the Christian bias because it doesn't stand out to me.

I guess it's kind of like white privilege.  Although in many situations being a Christian puts me in a minority POV, as a Christian Homeschooler I often fail to recognize my privilege as a homeschooler in the majority POV.

Thank you all for the reminder. :)

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