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Monday, June 21, 2010

Take a Stand - Part II

This post is for continued dialog. Read Part I and comments here.

So much good stuff, I decided that answering in a post made the most sense. That way it's easier to comment on my comments and makes my super long responses a little more accessible. least, that's the hope. <smile>

First things first: Thanks for popping in here, everyone! I love reading your thoughts, ideas and insights.

For those requesting something other than Apologia, I've put in another word to Product Development that we need to be on the lookout for another science program. Thanks for the feedback!

Now I'm going to try to express myself better, Mrs. C. I knew I wasn't going to get away without miscommunicating something. Good thing it was with a good friend <smile>.

"So... people who believe the Bible is absolutely literally true and teach their children accordingly are out to INDOCTRINATE their children, not educate them?"

Not at all! Well... that's not what I was trying to say in this post. I'm sure there are some out there who do... just like some on the old earth or evolution side. My point is that Sonlight is dedicated to offering homeschool resources to help you tackle all subjects, including the sticky ones. Now, as I expressed in the post: I believe that a great way to not indoctrinate is to educate by going over both sides of an issue. Explain what you believe and why, and be willing to look at why others disagree with you. That's education. And that's great, no matter where you come down.

And, besides, Sonlight's materials still lean very heavily toward young earth. <smile>

As for the connection to the Pearls, Lynn pretty much nailed it. Sonlight does not carry any of the Pearl's materials--to my knowledge. But when the call came out, I felt I needed to respond. Obviously there was evil done, but how should an education company respond? By asking people to seek to learn and not just buy ideas hook, line and sinker. I know many people who have used their materials with, as far as I can tell, great success. That's because they take the good and reject the bad. And we should all do that with everything we encounter. But should Sonlight really take a stand on one side or another of this issue? I don't think so. Not because this isn't important. But rather that our role is to help you educate your kids, not dictate what or how you do that.

In an effort to educate as much as I could, I included many posts about the death of this little girl in my Other Posts of Note during that time. Since then, the topic has quieted down and I think very important things were discussed and expressed. So, I try to pass on material that educates. What you make of it, or do with it is up to you.

I'll also add: It goes without saying that you should not abuse children.

"If one doesn't present various viewpoints EQUALLY, one is indoctrinating? I don't buy that."

I don't buy that either. It has nothing to do with equality. Education is about learning, indoctrination is about enforcing/dismissing. As long as we maintain a humble attitude and seek to understand where others come from--and in so doing we can better express where we are coming from--we will be learning. It's a position, a style, an approach. This issue has very little to do with amount of time spent on one side or another. And, remember, I totally understand that we must all pick our battles. We simply don't have time to research and present all ideas equally well. Every time we teach something we take time from another opportunity. That's life. May we have the grace to walk in that and the wisdom to do so well.

And, Lynn, I love my job <smile>. I just wish I had more wisdom and grace in my writing.

TC, the Sonlight Forums have been... well.. fascinating and frustrating. We have spent a ton of time trying to make them helpful and inviting. Unfortunately, we get push-back from all sides. We strive to do the right thing, and we ask for grace when we have been unable to do that perfectly. I'm guessing you missed the most recent, er... event? We have started enforcing some policies and, far as I've heard, things are better there. <shrug> For what it's worth...

That is a good point, Diane. However, Sonlight is an education company, not a parenting company. And, as I noted above: Abuse of children is simply wrong. That is evident. What isn't so evident is where the Pearl's misguide people and why. Reading the dozens of posts around that time was fascinating and by no means conclusive. I've personally written about the things I find dangerous with some of the Pearl's teachings, but I doubt Sonlight will ever go there. Those issues are much more grounded in theology, philosophy and psychology and are best left to those who spent their efforts following those pursuits.

Hope Anne, I will gladly say it: Child abuse is wrong! Don't do it! Beating children to death--or nearly so--is wrong. Absolutely. If following the Pearl's teachings leads you to that, don't ever read any of their things again. It's not worth it.

Becky, you're right that many of these issues can become matters of salvation and undermine faith in Christ. There is much work still to be done by persons on all sides to determine how these data and interpretations influence what we believe and how we respond to it. Absolutely. But, just for fun, let's take the idea of death for a moment. I see at least two ways to think of death: 1. Physical demise, and 2. Damnation. I think the fact that things physically expired prior to the Fall is evident in Scripture: Genesis 2:16ff. Adam and Eve ate fruit. Fruit is part of a living organism. For the food to be nourishing to Adam and Eve, the living cells of the plant must have died and been broken down for their system to gain nutrients. In fact, it is entirely possible that had Adam and Eve stopped eating of the Tree of Life prior to the Fall they would have died then. So, in my mind, while it is clear that the Fall introduced spiritual death and separation from God, physical death--on at least a plant level--was already there. In other words: These are absolutely important issues with far-reaching ramifications. But the details are still fuzzy enough to warrant more education.

Which is incredibly fun! There's more to learn! There are more opportunities! We have not yet learned it all.

How cool is that? Pretty cool.


 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Thank you, Luke. I do tend to be dismissive of certain viewpoints in educating my children, but don't think that's necessarily indoctrination per se. To my mind, "indoctrination" is intentionally using abusive techniques to manipulate others to parrot what you want them to believe. Some people would say the whole category of homeschooling is necessarily a form (intentional or not) of indoctrination because the parents pick the material and cannot possibly be "objective" like professional teachers.

Perhaps "indoctrination" is in the eye of the beholder. My children are taught from a more conservative curriculum, but know that other viewpoints are out there. But we don't sit down and discuss why a slaveholder can be "right" and try to understand his viewpoint as an acceptable worldview or explore why it's ok for Heather to have two daddies.

We just don't. I know you've explored this idea before of being openminded, but not so much that your brains fall out lol.

God bless ya!

Becky said...

Fruit is inanimate, Luke. :) If people decided they couldn't eat any living thing they would starve to death, as everything on this earth is living in some capacity. As opposed to some vegetarians/vegans who do not eat meat because it has a face. :)

I would like to point out that many people are afraid of physical death, and many people, even Christians, are very shaken by physical death when it occurs to someone close to them. If physical death was built into God's Creation, why is it still, after potentially millions of years+, a thing of distress for almost everyone? Also, why would Jesus' resurrection be so important if physical death wasn't part of the curse? His sacrifice would only need to redeem us from damnation, but Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."

I personally believe that the animal skins that God used to clothe Adam & Eve probably came from the first living, breathing thing to physically die.

Becky said...

And on indoctrination: my pastor-husband and I fully intend to indoctrinate our children into our faith. Of course, they will learn about other faiths and Christian denominations, but we will teach them to believe what we believe. :)

Indoctrination doesn't have to be a negative term. I believe that is what God commanded Moses when He gave the Israelites the Law and told them to continually speak of it with each other and to teach it to their children (Deut. 6:6-8). In matters of faith, indoctrination is extremely important in "training up a child in the way he should go." (Prov. 22:6)

Luke Holzmann said...

Glad to cleared most of it up, Mrs. C. And you're right: We don't--and can't--sit down and discuss the ins and outs of every position out there. We have to focus.

Becky, I'm fine with your position on the first physical death was when God provided coverings for Adam and Eve. That's certainly how I learned it growing up. That also makes a ton of sense within the context of that narration.

As for why death still shakes us: It's loss. Extreme loss of the most permanent kind we'll experience. That's why it is so distressing and why Christians still feel its bite.

I'm with you that Christ's resurrection from the dead is vital. Still, physical death was part of the curse... even if other things--even those with faces <smile>--had died prior to the Fall. <shrug> This issue is extremely complex and I don't claim to have the answers. I am saying that there is still ample room for learning things we didn't know before that could reveal an even greater understanding of reality and Truth.

And, yes: Indoctrination need not be negative. Agreed <smile>.


TulipGirl said...


Obviously, I’ve been vocal about the whole Pearl/NGJ/TTUAC Lydia Schatz/Sean Paddock tragedies.

And. . . honestly? I’m a bit disappointed in the “not taking a stand” posts you wrote recently. I –TOTALLY– get where you are coming from, in your Old Earth/Young Earth situation and reasoning. But to me, that is like comparing apples and oranges.

I hoped for (expected?) something along the lines of, “We at Sonlight believe that God has entrusted to each parent the care and education of their own children, and believe that Christian parents will seek resources that assist them in training their children in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. That said, Sonlight does not supply or endorse the child training materials written by Michael and Debi Pearl and encourage parents to read those materials, as in all parenting materials, with great discernment.”

That is both taking a stand AND respecting parents. That is staying “above the fray” AND using the rightful influence Sonlight has in homeschooling movements to “take a stand” and urge caution.

While personally I’ll be much more forthright, direct, and confrontational about the serious problems (theologically and pragmatically) that I find in the materials published by NGJ, I understand that a company needs to be more circumspect.


Luke Holzmann said...

"Sonlight does not supply or endorse the child training materials written by Michael and Debi Pearl and encourage parents to read those materials, as in all parenting materials, with great discernment."

Love it. Sonlight does not--as I noted--to my knowledge supply any of the Pearl's materials. In that sense, I guess, Sonlight does not endorse their materials either; the same way we don't endorse many other authors whom we have never offered. Of course, some materials we carry we clearly don't fully endorse either (several titles, while excellent for what they are, are balanced out with tons of notes in our Instructor's Guides). As with all things, great discernment is absolutely encouraged.

I would be hesitant, however, to include an official "does not endorse" clause because, for one, I'm not Sonlight <smile>. I work here, speak for the company and have a vested interest in it, but there'd need to be a lot more consensus/decision-that-this-is-a-battle-we-want-to-participate-in before we stepped outside of our focus on education and into this minefield. I have heard no such tremors from "the powers that be." I think this is a very important issue, so I blog about it, but Sonlight--thus far--has yet to get involved in this, and many other very important current matters.

There are other things that make me wary of the "does not endorse" phrase, but the ideas are too fuzzy to put down at the moment.

All that to say: I think what you wrote is excellent. But, again, to make that official Sonlight policy would to be decide to focus on this issue rather than our primary focus.

Those are my thoughts on a Friday afternoon after a long week of filming after a previous long week of preparing for a convention <smile>.

Thanks for sharing your ideas. Any thoughts based on these thoughts?


Jenn @ Beautiful Calling said...

Visiting here for the first time. I've read the original post and this follow up and all I can say is wow!

A friend recommended Sonlight to me a few weeks ago for my pre K little ones. Thus far, I love the look of the company and wanted to add my paltry two cents in here.

I have at least one Pearl book in my home library. I read it, gleaned some great ideas from it and discarded the rest. I am sure that when Pearl's wrote their books then intended for parents to discipline in love (real love!), to use balance, discernment and common sense. I also agree that given the fact that Sonlight doesn't carry, offer or promote Pearl's materials, there is no need to take a stand since it isn't relevant.

As for new earth/old earth...maybe I am alone here but I don't know where I stand personally. I believe that the bible teaches that God created the earth out of nothing in 6 literal days. I believe that all things were created during those 6 days and that while things may have adapted over the years (dependent of weather etc.) nothing new was created. I do lean towards a young earth mind set. I'm not sure we will ever know a lot of things for sure on this side of heaven.
Since I don't think there is any way of knowing for sure, I kind of like the idea of presenting both ideas.

One comment did mention evolution and I wanted to know: does the Sonlight curriculum teach creation as truth? Does it teach about evolution at all and if so as a "theory"?

Sorry, long comment. This looks to be a very interesting place.

{Mrs. C. "not so much that your brain falls out"...that is funny but sadly true for some I think!}

Luke Holzmann said...

Jenn, Sonlight very much presents Creation as true. When evolution shows up in books for the younger years, those pages are often not scheduled and we provide notes in the Instructor's Guide for you to begin the conversation with your students.

Hope that helps!



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