Another fine mess.

Dr Chuck Pearson

Bob Jones University Press

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Posted on the Moveable Type chuck-pearson.org blog, as well as on Growing Up Goddy, Jeff Eaton’s experiment dealing with Christian culture ex-pats, on August 15, 2007.  (I was seriously delighted that the second link Jeff featured was Brant Hansen’s old blog Kamp Krusty.) This was my first piece on the site.

Following up on Jeremy‘s post on theology (!) in mathematics curricula, I thought it only appropriate to post a Christian education publishing house’s website, and Bob Jones University Press absolutely fits the bill for being a flashpoint for those of us who grew up in the church.

Most people who would happen on a site entitled “Growing Up Goddy” would know the history of BJU, immortalized in the Steve Taylor classic “We Don’t Need No Colour Code” (“B.J. went and got a school/founded on caucasian rule/bumper sticker on his Ford/says ‘Honkies If You Love The Lord'”). While Bob Jones University no longer has a policy against interracial dating, many of its Fundamentalist distinctions remain (most notably for me as a science teacher, the efforts of the school to supportcreationist ideas). So you might be understandably nervous about their homeschooling press.

Surprisingly (depending on your choice of curricula), it’s not awful. I have actually taught out of BJU’s high school chemistry text. It does have a great deal of the language about understanding God’s nature from the chemical world that set Jeremy off, and it doesn’t do what I’d really like for a Christian text in the sciences to do – point out people of faith who made key contributions to chemistry. (Of course, if you did that, you’d have to mention Michael Faraday, and based on my loose understanding of the history, Faraday’s Sandemanian sect was no friend of the Baptists, and that might be a whole new can of worms.)

But much of the fundamental chemistry, the book does well, especially the descriptive stuff, such as the periodic law and the nature of chemical bonding and chemical structure. I actually had homeschooled high-school students deeper into VSEPR theory off of that book than I was able to get college students on a competing college textbook, despite the fact that I only met the homeschooled students once a week (as opposed to three times per week for college students).

And here’s where it’s BJU Press (and most other homeschool publishing houses) FTW: I defy you to find another high school chemistry text for $37. Anywhere. That was the single biggest reason the homeschool cooperative I worked with adopted the book in the first place.

As long as they pound the competition on cost-effectiveness and pay a measure of attention to standard curricula, hyper-conservative presses like Bob Jones are going to continue to dominate the homeschooling world.

(Now, if the only text you’d ever seen was the biology text, I might understand you having a slightly less accomodating view.)

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Written by chuckpearson

15 August 2007 at 00:21

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