Why Do Creationists Use the Bible for Science?

Matthew Fontaine Maury, who was inspired by the Bible to map ocean currents.
This blog has been more quiet than usual, because I am trying to put the finishing touches on my new book, Discovering Design with Earth Science. As soon as that job is complete, you will be able to see preview materials at my publisher’s website. I decided to pause for a moment, however, because I was recently asked the following question by a frustrated atheist:

Why would you even think of using the Bible for science? It isn’t a scientific book!

It turns out that Discovering Design with Earth Science has two answers to that question. I shared them with him, and I thought I would share them with you as well. In the book, I present both sides of the age-of-the-earth issue in as unbiased a way as possible. I start with the uniformitarian view, which requires a very old earth. I then present the young-earth creationist view. The first answer to the atheist’s question is found at the beginning of that discussion:

Suppose you are examining the ruins of an ancient city and want to learn as much as you can about when it was built, how it was built, and how it fell into ruin. You see some of the remains of buildings, streets, walls, etc., but nothing has been preserved intact. You can learn a lot by investigating the ruins, but your conclusions will be based on your interpretation of what you see. Now suppose you found out that there was a book written shortly after the city was built, and it discusses the politics of the city for several centuries. While the focus of the book is on the government, it does cover many aspects of how and when the city was built.

Would you completely ignore the book and just examine the ruins, relying on your own interpretation to determine the city’s history? Of course not! If you wanted to learn the truth about the city’s history, you would read the book and let it help you interpret the ruins that you are investigating. This is how young-earth-creationists (YECs) study the geological record. They believe they have a book (the Bible) that comes from the Creator Himself. While the book focuses on more important things like salvation, morality, and our duties to God, it does discuss the creation of the universe, the earth, the organisms that lived on earth, etc. Since YECs consider the Bible to be an accurate source of history, they use it as a guide to studying the “ruins” of the geological column and fossil record. There’s a lot more to the history of the earth than what is in the Bible, but at least the Bible gives YECs a starting point to help their interpretation of the geological record.

The second answer to the atheist’s question comes from my discussion of the surface currents found in the ocean. While others had mapped some of those currents (Ben Franklin, for example, mapped the Gulf Stream), the man most responsible for mapping the ocean’s surface currents was Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is pictured above. He was inspired to search for the “paths of the seas” that are mentioned in Psalm 8:8, and after an exhaustive research effort, he ended up producing a detailed map of those currents. This revolutionized ocean travel, so he became quite famous in his time. He ended up writing a very important text on oceanography (what they called “physical geography” back then): The Physical Geography of the Sea. In that book, he references the Bible several times. In my earth science book, I tell the students all of this and then I add:

Many scientists didn’t like that and tried to discourage him from connecting the Bible to science. In a speech given at the founding of The University of the South, he gave those scientists a stern rebuke:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches.
(Diana Fontaine Corbin, A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Samson, Lowe, et. al., 1888, p. 192)

Young-earth creationists like me really believe that. The Bible is an authority when it comes to all the important things of life: salvation, morality, our duties to God, etc. However, because it was written by the Creator Himself, we believe it is an authority in whatever it mentions, including science.

Reflections on a Life That Didn’t Go According to Plan

Click for credit

Over the past two weekends, I attended two homeschooling conventions. They were both Great Homeschool Conventions, and after a year of doing no live conventions at all, I was overjoyed to be back in the saddle. I was also thrilled to see so many families refusing to live in fear and gathering together as a community. I had a lot of wonderful conversations with homeschooling veterans, new homeschooling parents, homeschool students, and homeschool graduates. While many people told me things that were deeply meaningful, there was one event that stands out in my mind, and I must share it.

A homeschooling mother stopped by my publisher’s booth and gave me a manila envelope. It contained a very nice card from her, and a report on some original research her high-school-age daughter had done under the supervision of a professor at a local college. It involved the interaction of bacteria and fungi with certain antibiotics and fungicides. The experiments produced some novel results, and it might end up being published in the scientific literature. The title page of the paper contained this handwritten note from the student:

Dr. Wile, I took what you taught me, and I ran with it. Thank you.

Apparently, she had used my book, Discovering Design with Chemistry, and was inspired to pursue a career in biochemistry, so she started taking college classes while still in high school. There, she met a professor who was happy to encourage her, and that’s how she ended up being able to do the experiments that are discussed in the report. She ended up coming by my publisher’s booth. We got to talk for a while, and I could see her eyes light up when she discussed what she had done. She clearly has a passion for scientific research, and it really made my day!

Since the time this enthusiastic young lady left my publisher’s booth, I have been waxing a bit nostalgic (being sappy is what my daughter would call it), thinking about all of the students who have told me about their scientific accomplishments. One student discovered a new virus. Another developed a new way of producing heavy elements. Another has published more than 40 articles in the scientific literature and is a leader in the field of prenatal imaging. I could go on and on.

What’s my point? Well, when I went to university, my plan was to do exactly what these incredible individuals are doing. I was going to get my Ph.D. in chemistry and become a world-class scientist. While I accomplished the first goal, the second never materialized. I got my Ph.D., became a professor, got grants to do research, and did research that lead to many publications in the peer-reviewed literature of nuclear chemistry. Had I continued, I would have gotten my shot at becoming a world-class scientist. But then something happened. I met my first homeschool graduate.

He was a student in my general chemistry course, and he was head-and-shoulders above his classmates. When I learned that he was homeschooled, I was shocked. I had no idea how a mother without any training (his mother hadn’t even gone to college) could produce a superstar science student. As time went on, I met more outstanding students who were homeschool graduates, so I investigated this “odd phenomenon” on my own. I found that my experiences were indicative of the norm: homeschool graduates are (on average) the best university students. As a result, I started working with homeschooling parents, and eventually, I started writing homeschooling curriculum for them.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I loved writing curriculum more than university teaching and scientific research, so I eventually left the university and did some consulting work in order to spend more time writing. After my curriculum became popular enough, I stopped consulting and became a full-time writer. I did that for several years, but now I have found a way to balance teaching and writing, so I now teach both high school and university students while still producing new homeschooling curriculum.

While I truly love what I am doing, I sometimes wonder about the choices I made. Once I went to university, I had a solid plan. What would have happened had I followed that plan? Would I have made some great scientific breakthrough? Probably not. While I have made some modest scientific discoveries with the help of others (such as radial energy scaling in heavy-ion collisions and an explanation for an odd chemical phenomenon), I don’t think I have the talent that is required to do great scientific research.

After this past weekend, I have come to realize that I have a tangible reason for being glad my life didn’t go according to plan. Had I followed my plan, I would have probably been a mediocre scientist. Because I followed the opportunities the Lord placed in front of me, however, I have helped inspire some truly incredible people to become scientists. I am certain that they will eventually produce more scientific advancements than I ever could have.

I guess what I am saying is that if the Lord puts opportunities in your path that require you to change or abandon the plans you have made, you should take those opportunities. His plans are better than yours!

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschoolers

I just finished reviewing an excellent book on home education.  I will discuss it more when it gets published.  The author quoted this piece, which I had never read before.  As far as I can tell, no one knows who originally crafted it, but I agree with it wholeheartedly!

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschoolers

If I teach my children how to multiply, divide, and diagram a sentence, but fail to show them love, I have taught them nothing.

If I take them on numerous field trips, to swim practice, and flute lessons, and if I involve them in every church activity, but fail to give them love, I will profit nothing.

And if I scrub my house relentlessly, run countless errands, and serve three nutritious meals every day but fail to be an example of love, I have done nothing.

Love is patient with misspelled words and is kind to young interrupters. Love does not envy the high SAT scores of other homeschool families.
Love does not claim to have better teaching methods than anyone else, is not rude to the fourth telephone caller during a science lesson, does not seek perfectly behaved geniuses, does not turn into a drill sergeant, thinks no evil about friends’ educational choices.

Love bears all my children’s challenges, believes all my children are God’s precious gifts, hopes all my children establish permanent relationships with Christ, and endures all things…

Where there are college degrees, they will fail; where there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we teach in part. But when the trials of life come to our children, the history, math, and science will be done away, and faith, hope, and love will remain.

But the greatest of these is love.

Science in the Atomic Age is Now Available!

The pandemic delayed it, but Science in the Atomic Age has finally been finished and is available for purchase! The course is targeted at 7th/8th grade, depending on the student’s math level and experience with science. In general, students who are two years from starting algebra and have covered at least a couple of years’ worth of elementary science should take this course. Most publicly-schooled students would take a course like this in 8th grade, but homeschooled students at this age are generally a grade level ahead of their publicly-schooled counterparts. While it can be viewed as a continuation of my Science Through History series, students who have covered elementary science in some other way can use it as well.

The course is arranged so that students get a general introduction to science. It does this by exploring science through the levels of organization found in creation. First, it covers the atom. Students learn not only how scientists currently view the atom, but also how scientists arrived at that view. Throughout the discussion, I emphasize the way scientists dealt with the unknown. When Bohr proposed his model, which was based on quantum theory, he freely admitted that it was crazy, but he thought it had some merit because it could explain experimental results that no other model could explain. I share one of his iconic quotes with the students:1

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

I try to emphasize that Bohr couldn’t explain how his model was consistent with the science that was known at the time. However, he was forced to think it had merit because it was so successful at explaining and predicting the results of experiments.

Continue reading “Science in the Atomic Age is Now Available!”

Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children

On Monday, the Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion about homeschooling. It was prompted by an uninformed article that was published in the Arizona Law Review. The author of that article, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard University, was one of the four panelists. The others who joined her were Neal McCluskey and Kerry McDonald from the Cato Institute and Professor Milton Gaither from Messiah College. I encourage you to watch the entire discussion by clicking on the image above, but I cannot resist adding my own “color commentary.”

I watched the discussion live, and I appreciated the fact that all the panelists were collegial. While they all had different ideas regarding homeschooling, there were no personal attacks or insults. That can’t be said about the text comments that were being added by some of the people who were watching. According to the software, 1,100 people were watching once the introductions were over, and 2,009 were watching by the very end, which was just over an hour and a half later.

The main issue that all the panelists addressed was how much government intervention should exist when it comes to home education. Here are the ways I would summarize each panelist’s position as expressed in the discussion: Professor Bartholet thinks that parents must demonstrate that they will be effective educators and provide a safe environment before they should be allowed to homeschool. Kerry McDonald said that there really shouldn’t be any government intervention, since the government has shown that it cannot educate children well or keep them safe. Neal McCluskey said that there should be limited intervention, confined to making sure children are not being abused or neglected. However, he emphasized that this should be done through the existing criminal processes, which assume innocence until guilt is proven. Professor Gaither didn’t really offer an opinion, but said that he has been horrified by some of the news accounts of abuse done by homeschooling parents. He also gave a history of homeschooling that was a bit biased, but relatively accurate.

Continue reading “Homeschooling: Protecting Freedom, Protecting Children”

My Review of Exploring Creation With Biology, 3rd Edition

The third edition of Exploring Creation With Biology.
The company that initially published my science textbooks has been slowly coming out with new editions, which is necessary. Science constantly changes, which means the textbooks must change as well. So far, I strongly recommend two of their new editions: The Human Body, 2nd Edition and Exploring Creation With Marine Biology, 2nd Edition. Another new edition, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition, was not good enough for me to recommend, but I also don’t recommend against using it. Two other new editions, Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 3rd Edition and Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition, have so many flaws that I strongly recommend against using them. This edition belongs in a completely different category: I can recommend it for students in a classroom setting or in a homeschool co-op that has a leader who knows biology well. However, I strongly recommend against it for homeschooled students working independently.

The main reason is simple: there is way too much material in the book. Like a traditional classroom text, this book aims a firehose of facts at the students and turns it on at full pressure! There are infographics packed with facts throughout the text, modules in excess of 40 pages of content, and a single experiment that combines three experiments from the second edition of the course. Simply put, this book is too much for a typical high school student. As a result, the student needs a teacher to separate the essential material from the non-essential material. In addition, because the book packs in so much information, it cannot spend adequate space explaining things. Thus, a teacher must be there to explain the things that the book does not.

Unlike the same author’s physical science book, however, this one is not full of scientific errors. There are only three serious errors, the worst of which is this statement:

When I took high school biology in 1977, the Time magazine headline read ‘How to Survive the Coming Ice Age’ because scientists believed we were in the midst of a global cooling event.

Time never ran a magazine with that title anywhere in it. The author probably saw the Photoshopped image of Time’s April 9, 2007 cover in which the date was changed and the actual headline, “Global Warming Survival Guide,” was replaced with the false headline she mentions. While it is true that there were several scientists who feared we were heading into a global cooling event in the mid-70s, the scientific discussion was not covered much in the popular media. It was mostly confined to the scientific literature.

There are some minor errors in the book as well, such as saying that Linnaeus separated organisms into seven taxons. In fact, he used only five. The other two were added later. However, those errors are not bad and will not affect the student’s future education in any serious way.

There are some parts that will really confuse students. Not only are some topics inadequately explained, many of the figures are so small that you can’t see what you need to see. For example, in one experiment the student is supposed to use a biological key for several pictured organisms, including grape and corn plants. However, in order to use the key, they need to see the veins on the leaves, and the pictures are too small for that. The author also uses terms that I cannot find an explanation for (like epigenetics). In addition, there are times where something is presented but not explained until later. For example, one figure has the equation ATP makes ADP + P without explaining what ADP and P are until several pages later. The index is also sparse and is missing crucial formatting in certain places.

There are many things I didn’t like about the text, including the fact that like the author’s physical science course, the student text is softcover. However, those things don’t necessarily make it a bad text. They just make it a text that I don’t like. The complete review is below, including the three serious science errors I found, the 10 minor science/history errors I found, the 16 parts that I think will be confusing to students, the three things I liked, and the 15 things I didn’t like.

My Complete Review of Exploring Creation With Biology, 3rd Edition

NOTE (added 3/10/2021): I received this feedback and thought it might be useful for some:

A friend sent your review of “Exploring Creation With Biology, 3rd Edition” from Apologia to me, and I can’t tell you what a relief it was. Unfortunately, my 10th grader’s homeschool science curriculum/co-op uses this text almost exclusively. She came to me today in tears crying, “Mom, I don’t understand any of this.” She’s a very smart kid, but this text is blowing a “firehose of facts” at her.

My Review of Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition

The third edition of Exploring Creation With Physical Science
The company that initially published my science textbooks has been slowly coming out with new editions, which is necessary. Science constantly changes, which means the textbooks must change as well. So far, I strongly recommend two of their new editions: The Human Body, 2nd Edition and Exploring Creation With Marine Biology, 2nd Edition. Another new edition, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition, was not good enough for me to recommend, but I also don’t recommend against using it. Another new edition, Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 3rd Edition, has so many flaws that I strongly recommend against using it. Unfortunately, I must include Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition in the same category. I strongly recommend against using it.

In my view, there are many, many problems with this book, but let me start with the most obvious: The student text is softcover. In my mind, this is a big step backwards. Most homeschooling families want the student text to be hardcover, because they want several children to use it over a period of many years. Softcover books do not hold up well in that kind of scenario. Of course, other companies offer their student texts in softcover, such as this one. However, the price is much lower. For Exploring Creation with Physical Science, 3rd Edition, the softcover student text sells for the same price as a hardcover student text. That simply makes no sense.

Of course, the real problem with the course isn’t the makeup of the book; it’s the content. For example, the book contradicts itself when it comes to temperature. Initially, it says that temperature is a measure of heat. That’s not true. Later on, it says that temperature is a measure of the energy of random motion in the molecules of a substance. That is correct. However, the book also says that different colors of light have different temperatures. That’s impossible, of course, since light is not composed of molecules.

This kind of self-contradiction is not limited to light. When discussing motion, the author spends quite a bit of time distinguishing between scalar quantities (which have no information regarding direction) and vector quantities (which include information about direction). She then properly identifies speed as a scalar quantity (it says how fast you are moving), while velocity is a vector quantity (it says how fast and in what direction you are moving). She then properly identifies acceleration as a vector quantity. However, she goes on to show graphs of speed versus time and states that the slope of a speed versus time graph is the acceleration. That’s contradictory. If acceleration is a vector quantity, it cannot be calculated from a graph that has only scalar quantities in it!

The author also tries to give historical context for some of the subjects that are being discussed. Unfortunately, much of the history is often seriously in error. The author claims that the works of Aristotle were lost as the Western world started using Latin instead of Greek, and they weren’t “rediscovered” until the Renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth! John Philoponus (490-570) specifically discussed Aristotle’s work and argued against some of his ideas, as did Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1300-1349) and many others. Most importantly, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) took great pains to integrate Aristotle’s work into Christian theology, spawning an entire scholastic philosophy called “Aristotelian Thomism.” All of that happened when the author thinks the works of Aristotle were “lost.”

In addition, this book is supposed to be for homeschooled students, but there are so many confusing discussions that I don’t see how someone learning independently could be successful. For example, the author uses units that do not cancel in equations as early as page 56 and expects the students to be able to do so. She has explained how to cancel units, but not what to do when they don’t cancel. She doesn’t explain that until page 195. As another example, she has students determine the chemical formulas for ionic compounds, which requires looking at the periodic table and determining the charge that an ion will have in that compound. She tells the student how to determine the charge of positive ions, but she doesn’t tell them how to determine the charge of negative ions. Nevertheless, the student must be able to do that to solve the problems that she expects them to solve.

If you want to read the full review, you can do so below. It catalogs the 13 serious scientific and historical errors I found as well as 20 less serious errors. None of these errors are typos or misspellings. They are all conceptual errors or factual errors. The full review also includes the 14 confusing discussions I noticed, 12 things I didn’t like but aren’t errors, and three things I just didn’t understand. It also discusses how much of this book overlaps with the book the publisher says the students should use the year before, Exploring Creation With General Science, 3rd Edition.

My Complete Review of Exploring Creation With Physical Science, 3rd Edition

Student Suicides Peak When School Is In Session

Suicides among children increase when they are in school. One factor might be the peer group to which school exposes students, which can be incredibly cruel. (image from stockunlimited.com)

In response to a Harvard Law Professor’s evidence-free assertion that there should be a presumptive ban on homeschooling, Ideological Diversity (a student group at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government) hosted an online conference entitled “The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling.” You can watch it here. I attended the conference, and it lived up to the student organization’s name. There were seven speakers, and they all come from very different ideological perspectives. There was one Evangelical Christian, for example, while two of the other speakers specifically noted that they are not religious in any way. Some were conservative, while others were liberal. One speaker even noted that while he agreed with the other speakers when it comes to homeschooling, he strongly disagreed with them on many other matters.

All of the speakers were decidedly anti-school, but for different reasons. One suggested that the school system we have today is institutionalized child abuse. Another suggested it is the result of government overreach. Another suggested that it had never been shown to produce desirable results. Another highlighted that when it comes to the most basic outcomes, its results are horrible. Since I have been involved with the homeschooling movement since the early 1990s (because my best university students were homeschool graduates), I had heard all of those things before. Someone hearing them for the first time, however, might be shocked by the degree to which some of the speakers denounced what most people consider a normal part of a person’s childhood.

While most of the speakers covered material with which I was already familiar, one of them (Dr. Peter Gray, research professor at Boston College) focused on something I had never heard before: The suicide rate for children is twice as high when school is in session than when it is not in session. This is particularly striking, since Dr. Gray says that for people out of school, there is no difference between the rate of suicide in the winter and the rate of suicide in the summer. He noted that lots of people talk about suicide among students, and they discuss all sorts of different causes, but school is hardly ever mentioned.

Since I had never heard this before, I decided to look into it, and several studies confirm Dr. Gray’s statement. One of the more disturbing studies I found was published three years ago. It looked at hospitalization in children’s hospitals for thoughts of suicide (SI – suicide ideation) or suicide attempts (SA). It covered 2008-2015, and the results are very clear. Consider, for example, Figure 2 from the study:

Notice that even among 5-11 year-olds, thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts peak when school is in session and drop when school is out of session. It seems to me that anyone who is concerned about the welfare of children should be very worried about this clear correlation. However, most people (including myself as of three days ago) seem to be totally unaware of it.

Now remember, correlation does not mean causation. School might not be the cause of the increase in child suicides, suicide attempts, and thoughts of suicide. It might be something else that just happens to be correlated with the academic year. However, unless someone is actually willing to look specifically at the question of whether or not school is to blame, we will never know.

Another excerpt from Science in the Atomic Age

God designed creation so that almost everything it needs is recycled. Only sunlight must be continually added to satisfy the needs of both producers and consumers. (Image copyright Shutterstock.com/Sakurra)

I am putting the finishing touches on my 7th/8th grade book Science in the Atomic Age (which should be available for purchase in June), and I wanted to post another excerpt from the book. The excerpt I posted previously comes from a section about the brain. This one comes from an earlier chapter, where I discuss plants.

By the time the students reach this point in the course, they know that producers are organisms which make their own food (usually through photosynthesis), and consumers must eat other organisms for food. They also know how to interpret chemical equations and the specific chemical equation for photosynthesis. In addition, I have just shown them the chemical equation for the process by which consumers burn their food for energy and have pointed out that it is the opposite of the chemical equation for photosynthesis. Here is the discussion that follows:

In other words, producers like plants use water and carbon dioxide to make glucose and oxygen, and consumers then use that glucose and oxygen to make carbon dioxide and water. So producers are feeding us, and we take what the producers make and then produce the chemicals they need to make what we need! In this sense, at least, consumers are the opposites of producers.

This is a real testimony to God’s power and ingenuity. He not only created the producers to feed the consumers, He also designed the consumers so that when they use what the producers made, they give the producers what is needed so that the producers can make more food. Now, of course, the sun plays its role, too. It provides the energy the producers need in order to do photosynthesis in the first place.

This is all summed up in the illustration above. The sun shines light on the earth. Producers absorb that light in the chloroplasts of their cells and use it, along with carbon dioxide and water, to make glucose and oxygen. Consumers then take that glucose and oxygen and use them to make energy for themselves. This ends up making carbon dioxide and water, which can be used by the chloroplasts in the producers (along with more energy from the sun) to make more glucose and oxygen. As a result, the only constant input needed is energy from the sun. Everything else just keeps getting recycled between producers and consumers!

This Balance Is Even More Amazing

The balance between producers and consumers, as illustrated in the drawing above, is amazing. However, we need to be aware that it is often oversimplified. I have heard many educators say, “Plants make food and oxygen, while animals use food and oxygen.” That is true, but it is oversimplified. Plants do make food and oxygen. It happens when they are doing photosynthesis. However, they also use food and oxygen.

Does that statement surprise you? It might, but if you think about it, the statement makes a lot of sense. After all, why are plants doing photosynthesis? Because they need to make food for themselves, right? Well, what does the plant do with that food? It burns that food for energy, according to the equation I showed you earlier. What does that equation say? It says oxygen and C6H12O6 are reactants. That means they are used up. So plants not only use carbon dioxide and water to make glucose and oxygen, but when it is time for them to burn their food, they must use glucose and oxygen to make carbon dioxide and water.

Now wait a minute. If plants end up using the glucose and oxygen they make through photosynthesis, how are we able to use it? Because of this important fact: Plants make a lot more food and oxygen than they ever need. If plants only made the food that they need, they would end up using it and all the oxygen they made, and there would be nothing for consumers to eat or breathe. However, plants have been designed to make much more food than they will ever need. That means they also make more oxygen than they will ever use. That way, there is food and oxygen for consumers.

This is a very, very important design feature that many people don’t appreciate. In order for us (and most consumers) to survive, it’s not enough that producers like plants exist. They must not only exist, but they must do a lot more work than just keeping themselves alive. They must overproduce food and oxygen so that there is plenty for the consumers. Thus, the proper way to describe the balance between plants and animals is, “Plants make food and oxygen, but they also use it. However, they make more food and oxygen than they need, so that animals can use the rest.”

Harvard Graduate Responds to Proposed Ban on Homeschooling

Harvard Square as seen from a nearby building (click for credit)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an anti-homeschooling summit that was being held at Harvard Law School. Well, over the weekend, I got several emails and Facebook contacts that contained an article written about one of the summit’s organizers, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet. The article discusses a paper she recently wrote in the Arizona Law Review. That paper

…calls for a radical transformation in the homeschooling regime and a related rethinking of child rights. It recommends a presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.

Once I read the article and the abstract from Dr. Bartholet’s paper, I started planning the rebuttal piece that I was going to write. After all, my first exposure to homeschooling was having homeschool graduates in my Ball State University chemistry and physics courses. They impressed me so much that I started researching home education and eventually started working with homeschoolers. Today, I am a strong advocate of homeschooling specifically because I have come to the conclusion that it is the best model of education available to parents in the United States.

Fortunately, there is no need for me to write that rebuttal article, because an excellent one has already been written by Melba Pearson,
a homeschool graduate who also graduated from Harvard. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety, as well as one of the articles (published in The Harvard Crimson) that she links to. However, I must leave you with the closing paragraph of her article, which succinctly explains why Dr. Bartholet’s idea is not only absurd, but profoundly anti-education:

I excelled at Harvard because I was homeschooled, and of that I am proud. It is deeply disappointing that Harvard is choosing and promoting an intellectual totalitarian path that calls for a ban of the liberties that helped me and countless others succeed, for it is those liberties and ideals that have made America the great nation it is today.