A Mother's Account of Learning to Teach Her Children At Home
I am a SAHM and teacher of six beautiful daughters. I decided to create this blog because I needed somewhere to write down what I was and am going through as I learn about the wide world of homeschooling. I figured why not share that process, in case there was anyone that found it as overwhelming as I did! I hope you enjoy your stay and perhaps find something helpful in your own journey!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gardening & Science

For science today, we worked on our garden.  We planted the seeds in a little seed starter kit from Wal-mart last week.  Today, they were ready to be transplanted into bigger containers under a plant light in our basement.  We have tomatoes and bell peppers to work with.  We put the plants in Styrofoam cups with the idea that they'll be easier to get them out of when it's time to take them outside.  We talked about the life cycle of the plants, photosynthesis, the different types of plants, and what they would (hopefully) produce.  The kids had a lot of fun.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Is Apologia Cinderella's Third Step-Sister?

Most of us are familiar with Disney's version of Cinderella.  All of us that love the tale remember with clarity the moment that Cinderella donned her sweet pink dress and ran down the steps to meet her step-mother and -sisters to attend the ball.  We watched in dismay as her step-sisters tore apart her dress and left her crying at home.  Did the step-sisters act of hate, in trying to tear down another, succeed?  No, Cinderella was still good and beautiful.  Did the step-sisters act of tearing down another to make themselves better work?  No, tearing down another did nothing to enhance any good qualities the sisters might have had.  In fact, it left them appearing smaller and meaner in the eyes of the world. 

Because the world is not a perfect fairytale, sometimes these kinds of tactics can work superficially.  It can erode the confidence of the person being torn down.  But it never makes the person attacking a better person.  It may appear to, for a time.  But in the end, the attacker will have developed the enmity and anger within themselves instead of cultivating traits of kindness, compassion, and understanding of others.

The same is true for religions and other organizations.  The leaders of such organizations can encourage their members to solidify their own beliefs through fostering traits that they aim for.  Or they can encourage their members to shallowly see their group as best because they have promoted attributes of hate and use them to attack other groups, attempting to tear them down.  In the extreme, such behaviors result in groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that Apologia, a popular provider of science curriculums for homeschoolers, is using their position to attack other faiths.  I discovered in the 2013 catalog recently sent to me that they are now offering two courses with the main objective of attacking belief systems Apologia has deemed false. 

Courses descriptions below and here:
Semester 1: World Religions & Cults
This is a survey of world religions, major cults, and other doctrines that challenge the historic Christian faith, including new religious movements. Students will be trained to defend the exclusive truth of Christianity as they study the basic beliefs of major cults and world religions followed by biblical critique. You will learn why Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon's are cults of Christianity and false religions. Many other world religions and cults will be revealed to help prepare you to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Semester 2: Are Mormons & Muslims Christian?
Students will learn why Islam has grown to become the second largest religion in the world. This course will examine the Qur'an, Mohammad, Mecca, the history of Islam, and how Christians should respond to Muslims. Emphasis will be on how to answer Islamic criticisms of the Bible and Christianity and how to share the gospel with Muslims. There will also be special emphasis on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Suggested for all grades through adults.
Screenshot of Descriptons on Apologia Academy's Page

Upon learning about these courses, I was troubled and reached out to my local homeschooling community for their thoughts and any information they might have.  Another homeschool mother, Hannah, contacted Apologia by phone about the courses and was referred to Larry Blythe, director of Apologia Academy (their online school).  She has kindly given me copies of their correspondence w/ permission to share them.  What she learned was quite enlightening for me.  I have edited down the letters to their pertinent parts, but you can view them in their entirety at links below each message.

On Wed, Apr 3, 2013, she wrote:

Dear Mr. Larry,

I am a Christian homeschool mother of two.  We have very much enjoyed the curriculum
that we have used through apologia because of its strong Christian base.  We have loved making the Bible copywork a part of our daily routine.  I am however very concerned with your upcoming online class...

Now please let me introduce myself as a Mormon.  You state in your own words that we
belong to  The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am a proud loving follower of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Both of my parents were converts to the church in adulthood.  My father was a devout Catholic, being raised by the nuns.  My mother was/is Jewish and followed that religion before they were married.  I have heard all of the conversations and reasons that the LDS church is a cult from both sides of my own family.  Amazingly, when they visit our home and attended church with us, all such talk ceases.  They are never converted, but they can see that we are in fact Christian.

I am not trying to convince you to change your mind...  I am however asking as a customer, and fellow follower of Christ, that  you refrain from teaching that Mormons are a cult and are not Christians... 

...Never would our leaders or any true follower of Christ condone the "bashing" another religion while at church on Sunday or any other time. However, I am finding that sadly, other so-called Christian religions seem to find no fault in doing so.

With Regard,
Full Text of Hannah's Initial Letter

Mr. Blythe's chosen response was illuminating about the intentions of Apologia, to say the least.  It was obvious by the format of his letter (original formatting in full version of his letter) that he copied and pasted much of his response to her.  Instead of speaking about the course questioned on, he chose to attack her faith in a reply that is five pages long at size 10 font!  Here is, in it's entirely, the only portion of those eight pages that actually address Hannah's original letter:
"Hi Hannah and thank you so much for your well thought out response. I assure you that we absolutely love that you are a customer and have used Apologia. We applaud your homeschooling efforts. We produce material that can be used by anyone who agrees with our doctrine. We obviously, however cannot compromise the truth and our belief system just to sell books. I’m sure you would disagree with that approach as well. You wouldn’t compromise the teachings of the LDS just to sell materials to other religions. You would stand firmly to your beliefs and welcome others knowing that some will disagree." Full Text of Mr. Blythe's Response
The rest of his letter is devoted to listing his accomplishments (I'm sure in an effort to show why he knows more about her faith than her) and attacking another faith.  Do I, or Hannah, expect everyone to believe as we do?  No.  But do we attack others and claim we're simply telling the truth?  Not at all.  I believe Apologia has indeed compromised its Christian values just to sell a product.  Nowhere in the Bible does it teach to hate and attack those of different faiths.  In fact, the Savior often associated in kindness and love with those seen as sinners and worthy of scorn by the Jewish leaders of the time.

Hannah sent a response to Mr. Blythe, very kindly written and did not attack his beliefs.  She said, " You are right.  I would never ask you to teach something other than what you believe.  Something that promotes the kingdom of God.  What I don't understand is why you as a Christian would spend time trying to tear down other religions.  The LDS church is not violent, it is small in comparison, it is the worlds largest private humanitarian contributor.  So my question is, WHY?" Full Text of Hannah's Response

I feel much the same.  Why? 

I am sorry to say that I can no longer in good conscience support Apologia, and wrote them to let know.  You can read the letter I left on their contact page here.  I will not support a company that promotes bigotry in the guise of forwarding education.  Apologia Academy claims on their website to exist "to help families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith."  But this course, and Mr. Blythe's response, is not about living or defending one's own beliefs.  They are about hate and intolerance for those that believe differently than them. 

I encourage other homeschoolers to make their own decision about whether they want to continue to support Apologia, or not.  It is a personal decision and valid whatever you decide.  But I wanted you to have this information when making your decision.  This is not a time to attack those that work with Apologia over doctrinal points.  Those running Apologia have their beliefs and their right to them.  If you are disheartened by their attitude, please contact them and let them know that you hope they can become more willing to allow others their beliefs and live with them in harmony.

Apologia Contact Page