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guest post at Leaving Fundamentalism

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I wrote a guest post on my experience with conservative Christian homeschooling textbooks for Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, Leaving Fundamentalism.

As a homeschooled child growing up in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement in the rural South of America, my family depended on textbooks provided to the homeschooling movement by Christian publishers. We used a smattering from a variety of publishers– Bob Jones Univeristy Press, A Beka (distributed by Pensacola Christian College), Saxon Math, McGuffy’s Readers, Alpha & Omega, and a few others.

I was intensely proud of my homeschooled education. In many ways, it was a good one. I studied Latin, Greek, and logic all the way through high school. I had the freedom to read everything Jane Austen and Charles Dickens ever wrote before I was sixteen. In some ways, my education was solid. It was good enough to get me through a Master’s degree, at least.

In other ways . . . it was dreadful.

There are huge– monumentally huge– gaps in my education, and I’m not talking about the fact that many homeschoolers tend to struggle with science and mathematics.

The most glaring problem with Christian-published textbooks is that they’re wrong. Factually and ethically wrong . . .

You can read the rest of it here.

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  • Beth C.

    I could totally relate to this post. My homeschooled high school education had a lot of holes as well. When I attended college, it was a struggle to realize there’s more than I was taught.

  • You know, I’ve been reading this blog for some time now. I’ve scrolled through the archives and I check in every now and then for new posts. When I first found this blog I was both intensely curious and also very defensive. After all, I would self describe myself as a very conservative evangelical, and a Young Earth Creationist to boot. I saw your blog as a possible attack on some of the things I hold to be most precious and true in my life. At the same time I put a high value on truth, so naturally I wanted to know what you were saying and what your criticisms were. I was terrified that they would be true, and that they would shake my world.

    Instead I found myself learning something. Namely, that I am not you, and that my so called “very conservative” ideology is miles away from what others would describe me as. Your life and my life are very different. Instead of finding myself under attack I’m finding myself shocked at what you went through, and how self-described Christians behaved toward you. I’ve thought about it and decided that it really comes down two things: I have lived my entire life in the Pacific Northwest, and you grew up in the deep South; and I went to public school my entire life. I knew Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. I would have been deeply shocked and offended if anyone had actually taught that it was a good thing slavery happened. The closest we would ever dare come to that would be to say “God can make good out of evil.” Even that would have been a little too risky. You simply DON’T say good things about slavery in Washington state. That’s one of the things that have shocked me the most: the sheer amount of racism you describe in the people around you growing up. I’m not saying Washington doesn’t have racists, but they’re generally of the redneck type who smokes a lot of pot, drinks hard, and doesn’t give a damn about Jesus. I was always taught that Christianity went past racial boundaries. I know quite a few Christians I deeply respect who get angry when they see a depiction of a lily white, European Jesus. I do too, to be frank.

    I think I got off track, but all I really wanted to say is this: I’m sorry you were hurt so much, and I’m sorry I assumed at first glance that you wanted to hurt me too. Keep up the good work on your blog.

    • Thank you very much for this. This is one of the biggest reasons why I write the way I do.

      It’s very difficult for me to talk about many of the issues present in conservative evangelicalism without sometimes coming across that I’m attacking the entire thing. I’m still a pretty solid orthodox Christian in many respects, and that almost by definition makes me a conservative, too. Kinda. I’m a liberal in my ecclesiology, and I’m leaning toward a broader understanding of soteriology and the efficacy of the atonement.

      But, it’s not my intent to attack, but to simply confront. I think there will always be problems that the church will face, but the beauty of the whole matter is that, in Christ, we can sit down and talk these things out. We can have constructive dialogs that can begin in criticism. That’s all I’m trying to do here.

      I’m a human being, and I’m flawed, and I want feedback. I want to have that conversation here, with people like us.

  • Becky

    Having grown up using the same books in my fundamental Baptist school, I can so relate to this post. It is one of my deep regrets about that school, Bob Jones University, and my fundamental education in general. They were phenomenally good at twisting everything into a racist, bigoted mess. What little knowledge I have of history post-1865 is highly centered on religious milestones. When I transferred from BJU to the Univeristy of Minnesota my admissions counselor actually LAUGHED IN MY FACE. Comparing the educaitons was a night and day difference for me. I can’t believe how many things they got wrong in BJU and A Beka books.