Friday, June 04, 2010

27 Reasons Not To Buy Sonlight

I've been needing to post about homeschooling for a while... and with the impending end of the school year, now is as good a time as any.

Let me note that while we use Sonlight curriculum, I am not compensated in any way for posting this stuff. It fits our desires for our kids so well that I love to talk about it.

What follows are some pithy quotes from an article on the Sonlight website entitled 27 Reasons Not To Buy Sonlight. (It's worth reading the whole thing if this is an issue you've been considering.)

6. They don't want to address false, foolish, or questionable ideas.

Parents who object to Sonlight Curriculum on this ground usually either

  1. believe it is wrong to mention or teach about beliefs or practices that are different from their own;
  2. can't invest the time to help their children process these ideas; or
  3. lack the confidence to discern themselves what is true and false or provide their children with appropriate replies.

Whatever their motivations, these parents feel uncomfortable with Sonlight's commitment to present all sides of a case.

If the thoughts I've just expressed create a fearful lump in your chest, however, let me note that your children will run into these ideas and practices some day.

Since that is the case, consider with me: What better place is there for your children first to encounter and learn how to address false beliefs, foolish ideas or questionable arguments ... than in the supportive environment of your home—with your help?

We believe you should introduce your children to the difficult subjects, carefully instruct them about why certain positions are false, foolish or questionable, and then teach them how to respond to those people you (and, by God's grace, they) may view as opponents ... in gracious strength and humility.

9. They want a "Bible-centered" homeschool program.

We believe that academics ought to be based on and intentionally related to Scripture. While we seek to act on that conviction, we do not believe that everything we read must be accompanied by a reference to or quotation from Scripture.

We believe there are times and places where a certain passage of Scripture will provide great insight or new understanding concerning a subject. In such circumstances, we quote or reference the appropriate Scripture.

But if you are looking for a program that somehow manages to display at least one Scripture reference per paragraph, page, chapter, etc., Sonlight Curriculum will not satisfy your requirements.

14. They want to present all content as "absolute truth," without question or doubt.

Though we base our curriculum on a solid, mission-minded, evangelical Christian interpretation of Scripture, we recognize that most history is far too open to conflicting interpretations to be presented in absolute terms.

In many cases, we cannot possibly know "for sure" what happened. And we refuse to speak as if we can. We do seek to give a fair representation of "both sides" of any issues concerning which we ourselves are in some doubt.

We take this approach in history; we take it also in other subjects. (See "27 Reasons Families Love Sonlight" for specific examples.)

We do this because we want to be fair when other perspectives merit discussion. We want students to know not only what they believe, but, almost more importantly, why. And we want to encourage students to think critically and to act with gracious humility toward those who hold differing views.

We want to make sure students are able comfortably to differentiate Scripture from interpretations of Scripture and both of those from human ideas about events in our world ... so they can treat each of these wisely and well.

17. They want a curriculum to praise the Christian character and roots of the United States.

Sonlight Curriculum commits to train children with a missionary heart for all of God's world and to embrace all peoples with realistic discernment—European Americans no more and no less than others.

We are as fascinated as the next person with those aspects of American history that are uniquely Christian. We are also happy to point them out. But we seek to go far beyond this.

For example, we seek to show how things look(ed) from the perspective of the peoples who were displaced by the European colonists. And we discuss issues of racism not only as it may have impacted the American Civil War but in other contexts as well. Over the years, we've found this desire for a balanced perspective sets us apart from a large segment of the homeschool curriculum community.

22. They want to guard their children from anything “offensive”—at all costs.

Sonlight has no interest in promoting unbiblical practices or ungodly behavior. However, we do believe a book should be judged on the value it offers, rather than the negative attributes it omits.

As you delve into some of the greatest literature ever written, you will probably come across some words, ideas, or characters that will offend you.

We hope that when our customers encounter truly "bad" characters in literature, they can help their children examine good and evil and gain wisdom. We envision the literary experience as a joint parent-child effort that sparks quality discussion of values and truth; it’s a process of evaluating both the good and bad of the world in order to gain the treasure contained in an excellent work.

Imagine eating a nutritious fish, grilled to perfection and filled with all the flavors you love.The nutritional value and flavor of the meat make it worth your while to "work around the bones."

Please consider: 1) If you want your older students never to read books with occasional profanities; 2) if you require that your children read literature with only wholesome characters; or 3) if it doesn’t matter to you whether a work is a “literary masterpiece” or a cultural essential, if it has no overt Christian themes, you’d rather not have it in your home—you may have difficulty with some of the classic literature we offer.

It's important to note that this isn't all there is to Sonlight - but it is these things, based on my experiences as an English major & as a pastor (youth & senior), that really resonate with how I want to raise my boys.


Todd D. said...

While we are not (yet) homeschooling, we have purchased the K/1 curriculum so far. Our girls love the science and nature books.

Also, the Mathtacular and Discover & Do DVDs are a complete hit with the girls.

Luke Holzmann said...

Thanks for posting this! I know I'm late to the game, but I just found your blog. It's always nice to hear what points resonate with people. [smile]