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  1. #1

    Default Any Validation process for site that claim to be "Secular"??

    I am looking into Home School for my teenage daughter, and an atheist who is a decent self-motivated science education, I am a little weary of how many "Secular Home School" sites have popped up all of the sudden... and, as I suspected, some may not be entirely non-religious.

    I just recently engaged in a chat with somebody at Time4Learning and I specifically asked about their science curriculum. How do they explain "Scientific Theory"? How is evolution presented? And how do they treat Intelligent Design?

    I was confirmed in my suspicion as their answers implied that a "Scientific Theory" and "known facts" are not necessarily aligned... And also that Intelligent Design is presented as "a possible theory"... THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. I did not even bother to ask what they say about climate change.. Sorry, but I did not think to save the chat.

    So, is there any Sub Forums here where people can provide their own experiences in some of vetting process?

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  3. #2

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    Welcome. You can check the Resources page here. It's self-reported by members, so every resource may not have comments, but many do.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years

    Daughter (21), a University of Iowa junior triple majoring in English with Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies

    Son (20), a Purdue University sophomore majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, and history

  4. #3

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    If you have a concern, I'd say ask. There are a few things that claim to be secular and really, really are not. For example, BookShark, Timberdoodle, and some other places have secular packages that use the Rebecca Keller various books, which are not fully secular. Elemental Science is "neutral" which is not secular, IMHO. The most infamous one for me is that Art of Argument, a logic program, claims to be secular and is straight up Christian propaganda. That's the first I've heard that about T4L. I think of them as being secular, but... well... kind of B league, to be honest. They're a resource that a lot of people use when they're first starting, realize they don't really need, and drop after a couple of months.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

  5. #4

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    I can't tell you how many hours I have spent evaluating potential curricula for my boys only to find that a secular-looking course definitely has a religious bent. In many cases, I have chosen not to use the product in question, but for many things, I have found that "secularizing" the curriculum is not too difficult, and it provides me the opportunity to discuss various religions (or any other biases) with my kids. I come from a very science-oriented background, and I feel it is really important for my sons to know that they need to consider the source and potential biases of any information they receive. We have done many exercises where they have learned that virtually any set of data can be used to prove opposing points of view when if you apply certain assumptions when reviewing the data (and, honestly, we all do make assumptions).

    I think that your daughter is at an age where she can probably objectively recognize if a source is religious, and as long as she as access to secular materials as well, she should be able to learn all she needs. I have found that some of the Christian resources are very good for homeschool use- you just have to edit and supplement in some areas to provide your secular viewpoint.

    Truly, 100% secular homeschool supplies are hard to find, and we've found that "secularizing" when we need to has worked the best for us. Good luck with your search!

  6. #5

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    Honestly, I have to disagree that 100% secular materials are hard to find. Finding something formatted just like you like it might be hard sometimes, and there are a few subjects that don't have a plethora of options, but secular programs are out there.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

  7. #6

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    I should clarify - you are absolutely correct that there are 100% secular options out there, but I have often been overwhelmed with putting together a complete curriculum on certain subjects and have found that many of the secular products aren't a complete "curriculum," are intended for large groups like a classroom, or make it difficult to obtain teacher's manuals. This is a reflection on my lack of confidence and no experience as a teacher. As such, I often find that the complete curriculum packages that are so common for Christian homeschoolers are directed at the inexperienced parent working with a couple of kids who need all the pieces put together for them. As I've gained more experience, I am more comfortable with my ability to put together my own complete curricula when needed, but I still find "secularizing" other curricula is sometimes very helpful.

  8. #7

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    Secular box curriculum options are more limited, I agree. But really, it's not THAT limited anymore, especially if you're talking about K-8. High school is a lot more limited. But K-8?

    Both BYL and MBtP are totally secular programs that ask you to just add math and they even suggest what math to add. Calvert is a very traditional, scripted style box curriculum that's totally secular. Oak Meadow is secular and also pretty traditional, though Waldorf leaning in the early years, so you'd have to want that specific bent. Complete Curriculum is a workbook style cheap program that's secular. As repackagers (places that sell other programs all boxed together to make a full year) go, I would say that Rainbow Resource's secular box program, despite the fact that Rainbow Resources itself is Christian owned, is 100% secular (really, they know their market and seem to have chosen pretty well - I don't know why anyone would go with Timberdoodle's "neutral" supposedly secular package when RR has theirs now). Some people here have liked Global Village School, though it seems pretty simple for the price to me. And there are some others that are workbook based out there. I mean, there are options.

    A decade ago, I understood why secular users went with Christian programs. Now, except for a few exceptions, I honestly don't. There's much more in the marketplace now.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

  9. #8

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    FWIW, I think they were doing some butt-covering in case you were critical of evolution, because they don't want to turn customers away. We tried T4L years ago and encountered nothing eyebrow-raising or even remotely Apologetic about their science. We didn't continue with them because my kids weren't into it. But I would have to see exactly how they phrased it to judge, but being a hyper-literal person myself, by nature, I would agree that "known facts" and "scientific theory" do not always align...that assumption is built into the Scientific Method. Empirical Evidence always trumps theory if the two happen to be contradictory.

    But if they have changed something and are now teaching Intelligent Design as science, that would be a problem. But last time I checked, admittedly years ago, there was nothing there that was tailored to people who want religious creation myths or literal interpretations of parables taught as if they were science.
    40-something mom of 4 kids who haven't been to school, taking it one year and one day at a time.

  10. #9

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    Sounds like you're doing an amazing job! I always intend to teach my kids about bias the way you are doing, but so far haven't done it systematically, just modeled critical thinking by being a very argumentative person who relishes looking at things from all angles (which really irritates people who aren't that way, including my daughter!). I would love it if you shared some more about those exercises you do with your sons, so I might have a good working example to emulate.
    40-something mom of 4 kids who haven't been to school, taking it one year and one day at a time.

  11. #10

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    Farrerwilliams, I am sorry if it looks as though I misrepresented the current market for secular supplies or somehow misconstrued the original poster's question. It is true that my knowledge of K-8 curricula is 5 to 10 years old, and I should have more clearly stated that; however, I got the impression that the OP was referring to an older student looking for science-oriented programs, and as such, related my personal experiences with finding such programs. And, yes, I recognize that I am really picky and require a lot of adjustments in my curricula. That is just a result of being a hyper, Type A, control-freak person with kiddos that just don't fit in with most of the existing programs as they are. Anyway, my major point was that one shouldn't immediately rule out a program if it isn't entirely secular because they can often be modified to be secular, and they sometimes provide another learning opportunity. Hope I didn't offend anyone!

    Crunchynerd, thank you for the kind words. I'm sure you are doing a great job of teaching your kids to recognize bias (and it's so nice to know that other parents annoy their kids sometimes, too - you should see the looks the boys give me on occasion!). One thing I have the boys do every time we read or listen to anything new(in school or out) is to research the speaker, writer, etc. and to evaluate their credentials, motivations, and background to better understand their message. Is the writer an expert in the field, is the speaker trying to sell a product, do they have a cultural background that shapes their view of the world differently from the background we come from, etc?). For school subjects, I try to present two articles, documentaries, etc. and ask the boys which one they feel has more reliable information or information that would pertain to one belief system better than another. This process has been a great jumping off point for investigating cultures, religions, political viewpoints, etc.

    I also love to take things like the fossil record that both sides of the evolution/creation debate claim supports their beliefs and have the boys identify the assumptions made on each side and analyze the logic, statistics, etc. used to support each position. We have had some fun afternoons "proving" crazy things like "potatoes don't exist" or "dogs have been discontinued" just to show how words and data can be used to prove a point especially if you are operating within a certain belief system.

    My guys are autistic and have a very difficult time recognizing other points of view and often perceive and misinterpret other's actions. So, we have many opportunities during the day to work on really thinking about why someone might behave or think a certain way (a relative's sour, "Hello," is because of a bad day at work not because he's mad at you kind of thing,...). Let us know what you come up with for your kiddos though I bet you've already given them a good understanding of things by looking at everything from multiple angles!

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Any Validation process for site that claim to be "Secular"??