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Monday, November 17, 2008

Preconceptions and Perceptions

I have an affinity for tech support humor; I love the tales of woe as two people attempt to solve a problem over the phone. One of my favorites involves a woman whose printer was not printing yellow.

Every color but yellow.

Tech support helped her clean the heads, print test pages, replace the ink cartridge, and finally suggested she get a replacement. That's when the woman asked, "Do you think it would help if didn't use yellow paper?"


Brittany may have had a moment like that.

Remember her blue hands? Well, her hands turned a little blue yesterday ...but then so did her fingernails and shirt.

"Luke, I think it may be my new jeans," she admitted sheepishly.

Ah, yes. That would explain it. Which is good. And that also makes sense why the doctor had no clue what was happening. But it still doesn't explain the heart issues.

And Brittany realized that if her heart hadn't been acting up recently, she probably would have figured out the dye thing a lot sooner. But because she had a preconceived notion of heart problems she perceived her problem as circulatory.

Thus, our perception of reality is closely linked to our presuppositions about what is happening.

That's why companies have to be so careful about what they say and do: People can easily misconstrue what you're doing based on their own ideas.

Today, at Sonlight, the topic revolved around "bargain" sites that sell Sonlight books for "less." These site owners use Sonlight's credibility to sell books for themselves.

But what to do?

Sonlight could easily be perceived as the bullies of the market who try to weasel every dollar out of people's pockets when compared to these "great deals." But Sonlight continues to put resources and thought into developing stellar curriculum, offering fantastic support, and building up a recognizable name. Sarita and her team carefully select each book, schedule it with helpful notes, and then package everything together with support and a guarantee like no other. And yet "bargain" sites use all of that to make a few bucks.

The other side of this, of course, is that Sonlight's name gets out there on the internet via these sites. But what happens when people start believing that "Sonlight" is just a bunch of books with a schedule? Then customers stop purchasing from Sonlight which develops, supports, and guarantees your homeschool experience.

And that's the real cost: Customers end up getting much less and the company that did the work to make it possible for you to enjoy this journey also suffers loss.

And then who will you call with your genuine support and curriculum questions?

Just a few musings from a guy who finds support incredibly useful, even if he should have realized the yellow paper issue himself.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Honest answer? The whole system is confusing. I'm befuddled. Do I want a "core" or just a subject? Do you have to buy a package? What do you need in each package to really do it properly?

I really wish they had a Q and A or something. I wish you could grab someone with ZERO h-s experience, bring them to your website and tell 'em to shop for curriculum for a third-grader or first-grader. See what ya get.

I think if you're on the "inside," you know what you want and all that. Honest, hope you are not offended, but I find it so confusing I just don't even give it a good look. Math, I could handle after talking with your curriculum rep. She was very specific on what the program includes and what I'd need.

OK, sorry if I offended. But really, try it. Grab some public school parents and see if they could figure it out. I mean people who don't know the ropes yet.

PS Jeans dye other things in the wash blue. Wash separately. :]

mideastmom said...

Are there really places out there where you end up saving money? Not that I want to. I tried that the first year we used Sonlight. It didn't save me anything. And it cost me hours and hours of time (I was buying used on eBay). Plus, I want to support the company.

The bottom line, though, is that, with the discount you get from ordering from Sonlight and the access to the forums and the ability to go back to the company if there are any issues (and the times the company comes back to *you* with the issues), I just don't think you get a "better" deal anywhere else. Not to mention supporting the company who's put so much into developing it all in the first place.

The library, I understand. If you don't have the money and need to take the time to use the library, sure. But buying from somewhere else, it just doesn't make sense to me.

(And, no, I'm not affiliated with Sonlight in any way. I've just had several years to think this through multiple times. Do we scrimp and save? Yes. But I don't blink when I hit submit on my order. At all.)

mideastmom said...

For Mrs. C: have you checked out the "Choosing" forum on There are experienced Sonlight moms there who would be happy to walk you through the process. The problem with "simplifying" and "just telling you what you need" is that every child, every home, every parent is different. The beauty of homeschooling can make for a very complicated ordering process, unfortunately.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Mideast Mom, that's exactly it. It drives me NUTS. LOL

Maybe I'm just not very adventurous. I just buy the "kits" from Bob Jones mostly. Then I get a script to even follow with my teaching. I really need that.

Not to say I don't stray from it. But I really need that. Maybe I'm not a good homeschool mom.

BUT I will sure check out the choosing forum and just listen in for a bit, see what they're sayin'.


trumpetmic said...

Nice post! This was a very nicely-illustrated way of pointing out the issue.

mideastmom said...

Mrs. C, nah, you're a great homeschool mom. You're doing what works for you and your kids right now. That's the best thing you can do. I do think you might enjoy eavesdropping on the Choosing forum still. It may very well clear up some of your questions, especially if you get brave enough to post them. :-)

Luke Holzmann said...

Mrs. C, I love honest answers! And I'm not the kind to get offended, especially when it's a friend ranting at me <smile>.

Sonlight does have an option for those who want to "click and go" with the Newcomer Packages. But Mideast Mom is right: Sonlight does like to give you options.

But I agree with you: The process is so stinking confusing! That's why I keep pushing the web guys to make it clearer. And any ideas you have: We're all ears!

Mideast Mom, you are right: You don't save money shopping around (unless you buy it off a friend, which Sonlight encourages on our Used Sonlight forum). We even had Judy do a comparison, which I linked to in the post. I don't think people realize this is actually true. <smile>

Thanks for the comment, Trumpetmic! I'm glad you liked it and I hope to see you around in the future <smile>.



luke holzmann
Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
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