Adventures in Good Christian Education: A Preliminary Foray


This should be good. I’ve taken time off work. I’ve got nearly a full bottle of extremely yummy Columbia Valley winery late-harvest Reisling in me. And I’m shopping for Christian science textbooks.

Yeah, buddy!

The thing that got me started is ACE. I know from Jonny Scaramanga that ACE is not the place you go if you want good geology. I mean, seriously – vapor canopy? Yeesh. I’m delighted Jonny’s the second result that came up when I searched “Accelerated Christian Education Geology” on Google. Oftimes, the Christianist textbooks are the only things that appear in the first few pages of search results, and it’s depressing that the criticisms don’t appear sooner.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, right.

So no shit, there I was, trying to find ACE crap on Amazon, and Amazon made me love them so hard.

Screenshot of Amazon search results, saying, "Your search "accelerated christian education earth science" did not match any products." It then has the search term "accelerated christian education earth science" with all the words except "earth science" struck through.

Amazon’s response to my query: “Maybe you’d like some REAL science, hmmm???”

So, wonderful. Time then to spelunk the intertoobz and find out what I can find. And what I find is this delightful little site* that lets me get a capsule description of all these Christian “science” textbooks. Outstanding.

Now, before we begin, a note: many of the publishers carried by Curriculum Express don’t even publish anything for science. Math, sure; English, of course! History, you betcha. But many show a distinct lack of all things science. Curious. Very curious.

And the science they do have is, shall we say…. zany.

Here’s the blurb for A.C.E.’s 8th grade science curriculum, with the bits I found most delicious highlighted:

The ACE Science Pace Set includes all 8th grade Science Paces (1085-1096). In these Paces your student will: Explore the wonders, resources, and cycles of God’s Creation. Search proofs of Creation and the Flood. Study astronomy „the stars, familiar and unusual, their purpose and message, and planets of the solar system. Learn about the structure and measurable qualities of Earth’s atmosphere, climates, weather factors and forecasting, and the hydrosphere. Look at the foundations of the world„ Earth’s layers, topography and mapping of the world, soil formation and conservation, and weathering and erosion. Discover Earth’s buried treasures„ understanding, classifying, using, and appreciating our mineral resources. Be encouraged in character development through examples given in each PACE.

Now, if you’ve read anything Jonny’s ever written about ACE, you know the PACEs themselves will be even more bizarre than that very odd blurb. And I just spent some of the filthy atheist lucre you sent me for fundie textbooks upon it, as I found the full set used for cheap. ACE is used in many Christian schools, after all, and besides that, I really want to know what they’ve got to say about the “purpose and message” of the stars. I know you do, too. So we’ll do that up as a series of its very own. Is there an astronomer in the house? If so, brace yourself, my friend – this is probably gonna hurt.

(Becoming distressingly sober, which is no way to go about shopping for Christianist school supplies. Must fetch wine bottle. Hopefully there’s still wine in it. BRB)

Right, where were we? Oh, yes, S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G.

So. Alpha-Omega’s next on the list. Lessee what their 9th grade science stuffage has to offer.

This set contains ten structured, step-by-step worktexts that include a solid, Christian overview of physical science principles, along with hands-on experiments and interesting activities. Each individual science worktext offers a clear, structured format, vocabulary lists, and various question formats! Informative science topics cover physical science and health topics like atomics, volume and mass, geology, body health, astronomy, oceanography, science and the future, and more. That’s not all! The LIFEPAC General Science III 10-Unit Set will motivate your teen to complete daily lessons with its ultra-thin size, unlike other large, hard-to-understand science textbooks! And because your highschooler can complete this student-directed worktext in three to four weeks, he’ll build wonderful feelings of confidence and accomplishment! Doesn’t that sound great?

Oh, swell. It sounds like I’ll have a wonderfully-ignorant teenager by the end. Teenage boy by the sound of it – it seems Alpha-Omega doesn’t believe the girl-children like that icky science stuff, judging from the pronouns. At least it’s not as in-your-face creationist as the 8th grade blurb, which asked, “Are you looking for a creation-based homeschool science curriculum for your middle school student?” Oh, my.

Right. We’ll give that one a miss for now, as I’ve not heard it come up. If you know of the Alpha-Omega curriculum being a big deal or starting to take off amongst the Christianists, please do let me know, and we shall give it a right jolly fisking.

Okay, we’re on to Apologia now. And they are, oh, gawd, they’re kinda… well… oy, vey.

This course is designed to be the last science course the student takes before high school biology. Thus, we generally recommend it as an 8th grade course. However, if your student was recently in public school, he or she might need to wait until 9th grade to use it. The course discusses such topics as the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, weather, the structure of the earth, environmentalism, the physics of motion, Newton’s Laws, gravity, and astrophysics. The author especially concentrates on the myths generated by the hysterical environmentalist movement.

And it was about right here that I stopped, said “Wait a fucking minute!” and pondered the fact that right-wing Christians love to scream their lungs out over how biased secular textbooks are. Y’know, the ones that bend into hyper-dimensional pretzels trying to remain neutral. And how neutral are the Christianists staying, hmmm? Not bloody very.

Wowza. At least I got to give B a good rage-laugh when I read that bit to him. He’s got no patience for this shit, and he’s not even a card-carrying, baby-eating atheist. Yet. I’ve a feeling he will be if he manages to stick with me through this series…

Okay, that book’s tempting, but again, not aware of Apologia being a major textbook source, so we’ll skip it for now.

Let’s see what the blurb for our dear old BJU earth sciences textbook sez.

Earth Science, 4th Ed. is an expedition. Your students will find themselves climbing mountains, diving into the oceans, and launching into the skies on a quest to learn how the world works. During this quest, students will find that Earth science is also a battle of worldviews. This text clearly introduces students to the secular theories of where everything they see came from. They critique these theories. For each secular theory, the text affirms the conservative biblical view of Earth’s history shaped by Creation, the Fall, and the Flood. Students’ Christian worldviews will be shaped and strengthened as they learn about tectonic processes, landforms and earth materials, fossils, the oceans and oceanography, rivers and lakes, the atmosphere, weather and storms, climate and environmentalism, the solar system, the universe and cosmology, and space science.

Fuck nuggets, I’m going to have to start buying Reisling by the vineyard in order to survive this series, aren’t I? And yeah, the book really is that tilted. B and I had a gallop through it right after I got it, and ye gods, is it ever… insistent. Again, the little rat fuckers accuse us of bias and load their books so full of it that fully two pounds of this four-pound book must be devoted to telling students those nasty old secular peoples are wrong wrong wrongo burn-in-hell wrong. Or at least that’s how it seems on a casual skim. We’ll be doing the deep-dive all too soon, so we shall see for sure.

Okees. Now comes a whole lotsa skipping, because every publisher from the rest of the Bs to the Ps don’t do that nassty sciences, preciouss. The next that does is Paradigm, and near as I can tell, on the surface, it’s not horrific. In fact, it looks sorta fun. I’d love it if more secular textbook publishers were able to follow the model of teaching science through a mystery kids get to solve, like these textbooks promise to. Of course, Paradigm is ACE sanitized for ostensibly secular schools, and that promises me that there’s awful dumbfuckery buried within. We’re not here for good scrubbed kinda-nearly-secular-if-quite-conservative-and-probably-backdoor-Christianist fun, though, so I shall reluctantly move on.

Here we skip many publishers again, until we come to Switched-On Schoolhouse, which is basically Alpha Omega for Christianists with those new-fangled computer machines, and so we shall yawn and carry on. Walch’s Power Basics very clearly sez it is “not a Biblically based course,” so we leave it be.

Aaand, there is no more science. Shocker.

You know, when I started this project, I meant to be all fair and stuff. And I will be fair. However, considering how remarkably blatant they are in their presentation, I do believe they’ve earned the loving attentions of the Smack-o-Matic Special Edition™. When they get the science right, I shall of course praise them. But when they start preaching to the kiddies… WHAP! After all, aren’t they the ones who are so fond of that “spare the rod, spoil the etc” verse? Should I not take their advice and apply my Smack-o-Matic of Loving Correction liberally? Er, I mean, conservatively? No, I shall not be gentle: I shall be sharp.

As well as very defensively sloshed…

Image is a meme poster of children with upraised hands at a worship service. The caption says: "INDOCTRINATION. Because when something is true and correct, it must be hammered into the brains of defenseless children."

 

☨By Christian, I mean the Christianist, Dominionist, theocon, fundamentalist sort of Christian that many other Christians, including the evangelical types who think “Christian” is just a synonym for “good,” are appalled by.

*Actually, rather horrifying – I mean, it’s mostly Christianist miseducational schlock. But still very useful.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey, thanks so much for the mentions, but more than for writing about this. The content of conservative Christian textbooks is a scandal. So far, only a handful of people have spoken out on this, so the publishers are able to reassure any concerned customers that it’s just a tiny group of fanatics who oppose them. For change to happen, this needs to become a widespread issue with lots of people making a stand.

  2. rq says

    Heh. Heh, heh, heh. Heheheheheheheh. Heh.
    This should be fuuuuuuun!! I’ll have to stock up on my own Riesling (or similar) to drink while reading your posts. In companionship, so to speak.

    the stars, familiar and unusual, their purpose and message

    Doesn’t astrology fall under the witchcraft umbrella of christianity? Or was astrology okay because it’s a Real Science because Stars? I can’t remember.
    Anyway, astrology ruined a lot of my expectations in life, so I can’t wait to see how you trounce and trash that part.

    • says

      I didn’t expect this from a Christian fundie textbook either. Are they perhaps referring to the star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem?

    • thebookofdave says

      Doesn’t astrology fall under the witchcraft umbrella of christianity?

      Yeah, but it’s only witchcraft when misused by pagans and occultists. In the hands of True Christians™, it’s prophecy, because Jesus!

  3. petemoulton says

    So, I hope you applied for a permanent stop on the Winebulance’s regular route, Dana. Methinks you’re gonna need regular resupply.

  4. Who Cares says

    Think it is feasible to make this a collaborative effort?
    Scan the books in, hand single chapters over to people asking to help, through e-mail. Get responses back. publish those.
    Or would that result in to many problems (and/or extra effort not worth it).

  5. says

    I suspect I’ll be posting roughly the same comment on every post in this series, and it will look something like this: “What? WHAT?! WTF?” The “hysterical environmentalist movement” really cracks me up this time. Yes, it’s my uterus, the seat of my irrational womanly intuition/original sin, that causes me to believe the scientific consensus on global warming. Those darn baby whales have hijacked my god-given maternal instinct, which should be used only to overpopulate the planet with god-fearing children.

    • rq says

      If you would only give birth to a baby whale, god would accept you back into the fold!!!!!!! And global warming would stop. So it’s all your fault!

  6. doktorzoom says

    I may have to check out some of the offerings from Apologia Now, if only for the opportunity to say how much I love the smell of napalm in the morning…