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Thursday, May 27, 2010

From Luke's Inbox: Sonlight and Socialism

Hi Luke,

Last night at church, a lady cornered me wondering why Sonlight uses a history text that promotes socialism. She was referring to Hakim's History of US. I tried to explain that the Instructor's Guides give lots of notes about the books to help present the other side. I like the fact that Sonlight presents us with a variety of viewpoints. That didn't help. She seemed disturbed that homeschoolers would use texts that have been adopted by public schools. What would you say to her or others like her?

Great question!

First, I'd love to find out where she is coming from. Why she is disturbed by the idea of using books public schoolers use? What's driving that? Based on that information, I'd try to tailor my response to answer her real questions/concerns.

Second, if I'm not able to get to the heart of the issue and address the underlying concerns, I'd start by pointing her to the 27 Reasons Not to Buy Sonlght... particularly points six, fourteen, and twenty-two. These will give her the philosophy/reasoning behind why we do some of what we do. I may also encourage her to read this article.

Third, I may then move into an even deeper discussion as to why homeschoolers would use texts that hold ideas with which we don't agree. Something like:

In an effort to best serve you and your students, we do encourage you to discuss these ideas and tensions. At appropriate stages, we offer materials to help you start on this journey and we hope that by studying this material together you will grow stronger in your faith and your knowledge of other's observations and ideas. We believe in education, not indoctrination. So while we strongly support some ideas, we do our best to teach not preach.

I recently wrote that--slightly modified here--when asked about why we include books that mention Evolution. I firmly believe that, when appropriate, we are wise to present the beliefs of others so we can wrestle with why they believe as they do. Being able to learn their reasoning, discuss it, and then discover why we don't agree, are essential skills if we ever hope to participate in these discussions. I discovered very shortly after Bible school that learning to laugh at bad ideas did no good. I was unable to actually discuss postmodernism with someone if all I could say to their statements of "there's no such thing as absolute truth" was, "Do you know that absolutely?" While funny, it's not an accurate portrayal of moral relativity and won't help either of us get closer to the absolute Truth. ...all that to say: If we want to be ambassadors for Christ, I think it is our responsibility to learn what the other side thinks so we can talk to them where they are; much like Christ did for us when He came to earth as a man.

After that, I'd want to make sure I answered her questions or replied to her objections. There's much more to be said, but a blanket answer would be difficult as these concerns have many different very important roots that must not be ignored.

That's where I'd start, at least.


Well, bloggy friend, how would you respond? What would you add? Have you ever been asked a similar question?

Have you had a similar question about Sonlight yourself? If so, did this address your concerns?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father


Abe said...

Just out of curiosity, is The History of US primarily in there to present another view or because it's actually a good text?

Katie said...

The variety of perspectives represented is one of the main reasons I chose Sonlight, and something I have struggled to find in other curriculum companies.

Is there such thing as a perfect perspective? If we are going to hold our teaching and learning to the Bible alone then we can maintain that purity, as long as we don't comment on it, and then which text do we use, and do we have to learn Greek and Hebrew? How about Aramaic? Everyone is coming from a perspective that is clouded in some way...we are human. I am more worried about my children putting certain authors and perspectives on a level of truth that they shouldn't be on. Everything we read should be examined for what it is. I am sure I could find just as many issues with any textbook set before me.

As far as textbook selection I have been thrilled with Sonlight's choices, and glad that I don't have to do all of the legwork to find the gems that you have put together for us. Like you said, Sonlight is not for everyone. But I am very thankful for you guys...Thanks!

Luke Holzmann said...

Abe, Sonlight only carries excellent materials <smile>. So, yes: It's there because what it does it does very well. And, as usual, we include tons of notes to make the experience even more beneficial.

Thank you, Katie. Thank you so much!


Unknown said...

To be a great thinker you must understand a variety of thoughts. As Christians we have an advantage, however, because we have the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to reveal truth to us. If we are not well read and we don't grapple with opposing view points we are weakend in our ability to defend our faith (not the God needs defending). I remember a LA exercise when my son did Core5, it asked the student to make a comparison of Christ's words and Confusious words. That was so valuable for my son. Its the same thing with Hakim's books. When my children can look at material critically and balance against God's word that is when real learning has taken place. I sincerely believe that many of the problems we are facing today in our country with the progressive movement is as a body we've done too much pew sitting and have lacked an ability to engage faulty thinking. Its not enough to say, "I can't believe that they think that way." With Sonlight our kids are learning why they "think that way" and how to enlighten others who say, "I can't believe they think that way."

Luke Holzmann said...

"...we've done too much pew sitting and have lacked an ability to engage faulty thinking." I like the way you phrased that.


Nutmeg said...

To answer Abe, I've read through the History of US prior to using Sonlight and it is EXCELLENT and engaging.

I have had a few issues with some of Sonlight's selections simply because I'm not sure it is necessary to read a book from a Buddhist perspective to be able to refute what they believe.

However, I've grown up a lot over the years and realize that "just because" is never a good answer and my children are going to dig deeper...I should be right there with them explaining as we dig.

I do wish Sonlight would offer even more thought-provoking discussion and rebuttal tips for moms who struggle to know what to say in response to difficult readings. I'm getting better, but still sometimes feel like I could use a hand-up. ;)

Luke Holzmann said...

Amy, thanks for offering your perspective and insights! I'll pass on your comment about offering more tools to our product development team. It's always a challenge to try to hold to teaching and instruction when presenting rebuttals and challenges to ideas.



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