Oklahoma homeschool “science fair,” associated with state university, perverts science by making it support God

August 14, 2015 • 9:20 am

From yesterday’s issue of lostogle.com, a site for news from Oklahoma, we hear that the University of Oklahoma, a public institution, has apparently gotten itself entangled with a homeschool “science fair” that prioritizes faith over fact—in fact, it contaminates the science with God. The site reports this:

Yesterday afternoon, an Ogle Mole alerted me to a strange webpage hidden on OU.edu (OU.edu/science), the official website for the University of Oklahoma. The page has to do with the Oklahoma Homeschool Science Fair, an annual event which aims to help kids discover science and engineering.

That page has now mysteriously (!) disappeared; this is what you get when you click on the link above. Go Sooners!

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 6.38.03 AM

. . . but you can see that page via the Wayback Machine, and here are the goals of the fair:

OKLAHOMA HOMESCHOOL SCIENCE FAIR

All 1st through 12th grade homeschool students in Oklahoma are invited to participate in the Oklahoma Homeschool Science Fair.

Goals

  1. See the consistency and detail of God’s creation

  2. Apply scriptural lessons, truths, principles to science topics

  3. Provide more than a science test can offer; variety, hands-on experience, thinking and reasoning, application and enjoyment

  4. Teach the scientific method

  5. Integrate all the academics: reading, writing, spiritual application, science facts, math, drawing conclusions, art, graphing, typing reports, oral presentation and time management

There is also this requirement:

All exhibits must include scripture and give reference pertaining to the subject matter of the project. Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are some verses that develop principles that can be related to your project. The intent is to relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe.

Oy vey, that’s some “science”! So here we see science as confirmation bias, for the first two goals mandate that what the homeschoolers present should be consistent with the Bible, and be interpreted in light of scripture.  A real science fair would simply have rules 3, 4, and 5 (minus “spiritual application”).  And of course there are no projects that would subvert the “consistency of God’s creation,” like the messy details of evolution. How would they comport the “dead genes” in our own genome that have been inactivated by mutation (genes that are active in our relatives), with God’s plan. Was He being sneaky and testing our faith, or did he just have a bad day?

The site also points to the fair’s Facebook page:

I located the Oklahoma Homeschool Science Fair Facebook Page. They have photos of projects from 2013 and 2014. They look like typical science fair projects are first glance, but when you actually read what’s on the board you can see those first two goals being met:

Here are some of the entries on the Facebook page. Note the scriptural emphasis:

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oklahoma-home-school-science-fair2

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oklahoma-home-school-science-fair-505x400

Poor kids! They’ve already been forced to shoehorn science into their indoctrination. Lostogle also gives the name and email address of the University of Oklahoma professor—an engineer, of course—who’s apparently the liaison between the University and the science fair, but I’ll omit it here in case the University (as suggested by the missing webpage) has decided to sever its connection with the event.

h/t: Ken Howard

84 thoughts on “Oklahoma homeschool “science fair,” associated with state university, perverts science by making it support God

      1. Does it matter? If homeschooling produces inferior results – and apparently it does – why not simply ban it?

        It is _kids_, and they deserve the best education one can get. That is, education from dedicated (in both senses) professionals and not kin corrupted amateurs, overseen by authorities and continuously quality checked.

        Especially galling that it was pushed by, and mainly used by, religionists precisely so they could press an inferior education onto kids.

        1. I’m of two minds on this. Yes, homeschooling can lead to inferior results, but it can also lead to superior results. It depends on the parents and the child.

          One of the problems is the parents inject their own stereotypes, ignorance and religion into homeschooling.

          There are some truly horrifying schools in the USA. Religion has permeated some school districts, they continue to force religion down students throats.

          Some schools are violence filled dangerous places. Not all parents have the option to move or move their children to a better school.

          On the other hand, part of school is learning to negotiate the rapids when dealing with complex social interactions.

          I’m not aware of any school in Canada requiring armed guards or regular police.
          Then there is the zero tolerance laws, where students are arrested and charged with crimes for the most ridiculous things because local administration have abrogated their responsibility to make decisions.

          Here in Victoria, British Columbia, there are schools that allow a cross between internet and regular school. You do your work over the net. You can contact the teacher several ways including in person. The student has the option to take classes that have one or two in person classes.
          They also have the option of going to the school to study and hang out for help from staff or students.

          It’s good for students with various problems, jobs, or students who are highly motivated and want to get all their courses and get on with college or university.

          Finally, as I understand it, in some places students and parents can be arrested and charged if they don’t attend school? The schools get paid per ass in seat, and care more about getting asses in seats than having decent schools. I understand they pay people to find truants? And fine parents who don’t have good enough excuses for absences?

          1. One or two in person classes (lectures) “a week” with the remaining work being done via the internet.

          2. “in some places students and parents can be arrested and charged if they don’t attend school? The schools get paid per ass in seat, and care more about getting asses in seats than having decent schools. I understand they pay people to find truants? And fine parents who don’t have good enough excuses for absences?”

            Clearly, you are not a teacher.

            My wife is one and I know many. The districts go out to find the kids, not because they are getting home-schooled; but because they are being neglected by their parents and either kept from attending (they almost all want to attend) or are being moved around (homeless, sofa-crashing with multiple relatives) and get lost in the system.

            Almost all of my wife’s students from tough households fall to bits when the end of term approaches — because the only structure in their lives (and the only real, effective “parenting” they receive) is at school.

            That is a really cheap shot at hard-working public school employees. A very popular trope these days.

            Parents get many chances to do the right thing (on truancy) before social services and potentially the police get involved. By the time that happens, it’s a really clear case. (And often the parents move to another city to avoid the charges and keep right on neglecting their kids.)

            Internet teaching is highly unlikely to work for primary grade kids — where kids’ educational path is larger determined.

            1. Did I write they were being arrested for being home schooled? I don’t think I did.

              “That is a really cheap shot at hard-working public school employees. A very popular trope these days.”

              Perhaps you can provide a quote of exactly what you think the cheap shot is, because quite frankly I’m mystified.
              Do you understand I put them in the form of a question? I’m from a different country.

              We seem to do fine without arresting children.

              But thank you for jumping to conclusions and down my throat.

            2. “Internet teaching is highly unlikely to work for primary grade kids — where kids’ educational path is larger determined.”

              I hadn’t even considered it would be, hence the mention of having jobs, and courses out of the way quickly in preparation for college and university.

          3. “I’m not aware of any school in Canada requiring armed guards or regular police.”

            I can only conclude that Canadian students generally aren’t the entitled, narcissistic jerks that far too many U.S. students are. (I’ve substitute taught full-time for over ten years. Had my share of being treated rudely, cussed out, by students. That behavior is not a carrot to prompt me to pursue full-time regular teaching.)

            (We visited your lovely city in the evening the first week of June, while on an Alaska cruise. Seems like a lovely place to which to retire. An illusion? Looking through rose crystal glass? Wishful thinking?)

            1. I rather like living here. Lots of green spaces, lots of recreational activities.
              The weather is usually pretty mild.
              Lots of people from California hate it here in the winter because it’s cloudy and rains for three months, but I’ve gotten used to it. Besides, that rain comes in handy during the long dry summers.

              I’ve read we have the mildest weather in Canada and the US, except for Miami, Florida.
              I know it’s true for Canada, but I would have thought most of Florida would have mild weather. We rarely get snow and in the last decade we rarely get hard frosts.
              Most snow is about an inch and it melts over night. If we do get heavy snow it’s a disaster on the streets because nobody is ready or used to driving on snow.

              It does cost more to live on the Island for most things and the ferry is expensive, but that’s the price you pay for living on an Island.

              Vancouver Island is so large that I rarely need to leave anyways, it’s over 500 km long and 120 km at it’s widest, most of it forest, many lakes, many beaches, many parks. Housing is still reasonable, especially compared to Vancouver where housing prices have gone stratospheric.
              Unless you want ocean front property.
              Beaches are public to the highest high tide mark.

              There are smaller cities mid Island like Courtney and Comox where the housing is even cheaper, but I suppose that’s relative to where your from and the exchange rate.

              Victoria has been a retirement town since before I was born a half century ago and people still flock here. The young move out to find good paying jobs, the elderly move in for the mild summers and mild winters and to get out of the snow in the rest of the country.

              So basically, it’s paradise.

              We are however expected to have a terrible earthquake and all die horribly.

        2. I agree completely. Just ban it, as far as possible, accepting that there will very occasionally be exceptional circumstances where it can’t be avoided.

          Regardless of education and results, the social interaction that traditional schooling provides is essential to a child’s development.

          1. ” . . . the social interaction that traditional schooling provides is essential to a child’s development.”

            I wonder what school Donald Trump attended.

          2. “the social interaction that traditional schooling provides is essential to a child’s development.”

            That might be true if that were the only place a child could get social interaction. Home-schoolers usually have a park day. The advantage is the children play outside of their grades more often then in traditional schools. When a homeschool child’s home-base school is a public school, they can usually partake in sports and social events. They can be on the track team, soccer, football, etc., and they can go to the dances.

    1. i have to disagree. We’re homeschooling and there are protections in place. In California, and surely other states, homeschooled children have to be monitored by an educator. We go through a charter school that offers materials and courses. The charter school receives state funds and is subject to the same laws as a public school. They are prohibited from funding curricula like Sonlight. Even Math-U-See is tough to get through the charter school because a couple word problems derive from Bible verses at one grade level. The other 99% secular material is great.

      The charter schools are often held to higher standards. They are audited regularly and the performance levels are influenced by the teachers unions. Those unions see charter schools as a threat, and have a vested interest in seeing them fail.

      I’m sure a private school could offer homeschool programs that are religious in nature, but that’s more of a problem with private schools, than with homeschooling.

      1. I periodically read in the local newspaper that charter schools are exempt from certain rules by which public school must abide. The paper never states what those rules are. Whatever they are, why should charter schools be exempt?

        Could one rule be that charter schools can expedite (take short-cuts around “due process”?) the expulsion of a chronically oppositionally defiant student? That appeals to me. I speculate that at least a few public school teachers would take a slight-to-modest pay cut in exchange for no longer having to deal with such students.

        1. It’s hard to know without seeing the articles, but I’m sure there are some procedural rules that would be different. i.e.: Students in a public school must be present so many hours a day, and so many days a year, to receive the funding. Obviously, that’s impossible to enforce for homeschooling. It sounds like lazy journalism to hang that implication out there without explaining the details or relevance.

          I doubt they could take shortcuts around “due process” but I’m sure they could define a different set of rules or standards that define what that their “due process” is.

          Even though we’re talking about charter schools, I wanted to point out that many public school districts offer homeschooling programs. So there’s a wide continuum of how public, private, charter, and homeschooling can operate. Sometimes its hard to make a clear distinction between them.

        1. There’s a lot of advantages. We can tailor the presentation to my daughter’s learning style. We can tailor the material to her interests. We can go to the Fair, festivals, or museums, and make that part of her lesson–she can see things in action rather than just reading about it. Even Disneyland has some homeschooling opportunities. We have the flexibility to beat the crowds on a Tuesday; learn a few things; have lot’s of fun; then make up the rest of her schoolwork on Saturday.

          There are classes available through the charter school. My daughter took a robotics class with Lego sets. She took a music class with a teacher who toured with several well known bands, and now scores the music for a popular TV show. When she’s older, they have laptops with the full-blown version of Photoshop available for check-out. We pick and choose what fits best.

          Our neighbors spend 2-3 hours a day with their daughter helping with her homework. That’s after being in school all day. Our schooling is all done in 3-4 hours a day. (Fortunately, there’s pressure on the schools to stop sending home massive amounts of homework.)

  1. “How would they comport the “dead genes” in our own genome that have been inactivated by mutation (genes that are active in our relatives), with God’s plan.”
    True Believers are not troubled by such questions. A goddy student that I had some years ago would immediately answer that all such defects are simply the result of The Fall. So Adam and Eve could synthesize vitamin C, and had extra hemoglobin genes, and so on — ~ 19000 additional genes that we lack today.

    1. So those 19,000 ‘mistakes’ are somehow caused by the sin of knowledge? And since all living things (as far as I know) have “dead genes” that must mean all living things have sin, which is contrary to the bible. Perhaps all life on earth has a soul that needs a saving. That is one deep rabbit hole.

  2. I used to work at the California Museum of Science and Industry, and we hosted the Los Angeles County and state science fairs. We would see these scriptural references on many of the students’ projects. Even back then, when I was still nominally practicing my Judaism, I thought that was just damned weird.

      1. Me too, and I would’ve felt exactly the same when I was a believer.

        Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I see this need to get God in on everything as akin to the final pathetic efforts of a dying animal.

        1. I kind of agree, but would emphasize it differently. I see it as: the religious know that they are losing their influence, both on individuals and on society, and so are doubling down on force-feeding it to their kids (the old Jesuit line about “give me a child until he’s seven…). Of course, we know how often that backfires and, unfortunately, how often it doesn’t.

          Here’s a graphic representation of their “thinking”.

  3. Rather than sever connections entirely, I’d like to see the University take the opportunity to open it up and let the kids interact with real scientists. Host the event under the condition that staff and students of the University can visit the exhibits and ask questions.

    Severing connection isn’t going to stop the home school organization from hosting these events, cause them to omit biblical verses from the posters, or change any minds; it will simply cut the kids off even more from mainstream society. Allowing them to talk to real scientists during the event, and you may get them thinking about how to do better experiments, you may get them more interested and excited about science, and you may undermine any fundie “us vs. them” notions about secular scientists that their priests or parents may have put in their heads.

    1. I’d like to see the University take the opportunity to open it up and let the kids interact with real scientists. Host the event under the condition that staff and students of the University can visit the exhibits and ask questions.That would never be permitted by the homeschoolers, since that would potentially bring the indoctrinees into contact with differing (or even, horror ! , dissenting) opinion. This would be counter to the project of avoiding contamination of the experimental subjects before their minds have been irrevocably warped into a clone of the (controlling) parent – minus, of course, the parents doubts.
      A hypothesis (testable, in principle if not necessarily in practice) : compared to the general population of the god-cursed, a high proportion of these pseudo-school-fairs children are being used as puppets in a tug-of-divorce between a controlling and non-controlling parent, and that the isolation element of child abuse involved in home schooling has been raised as grounds to change or reverse the custody/ control arrangements. Being involved in a parody of “normal life” like this is targeted to bolster the illusion of normality in the victim children’s life.
      Of course, good Xtians wouldn’t conduct organised child abuse like that. Would they?

      1. That would never be permitted by the homeschoolers, since that would potentially bring the indoctrinees into contact with differing (or even, horror ! , dissenting) opinion.

        Sure, they can always refuse and use another venue. I still think its good to offer. Also I think homeschooling parents are not necessarily uniform in their rejection of interacting with mainstream scientists or being part of mainstream culture. Some homeschool because of social reasons (i.e., they’re concerned about peer pressure, sex, violence, drugs, etc. in public schools). You never know, enough parents may like the idea to push the organization to accept the deal. After all, ACSI vs. Sterns happened precisely because a large number of parents of kids in private christian religious schools wanted their kids getting into the University of California system.

        1. What you’re describing as an “offer” would be taken by most home schoolers, particularly the ones ramming scriptures down their children’s minds, like an offer of a crack pipe (loaded and cooking) and a subcsription to  “White Slavers’ Price Guide”.
          I don’ know enough about the american school system to comment on the reality of peer pressure, sex drugs, rock’n’roll compared to Britain. Violence seems accepted as the norm, though with Americans having guns, much more lethal. But I still don’t understand how that allows children to not be in full-time education. Nor how un-qualified children can be forced into a university against it’s wishes (if that’s what you mean about ACSI etc – not a case I’m aware of).

          1. I don’ know enough about the american school system to comment on the reality of peer pressure, sex drugs, rock’n’roll compared to Britain. Violence seems accepted as the norm, though with Americans having guns, much more lethal

            I think its highly dependent on the school district and school. Some are great, some are terrible. In the US you are essentially assigned a school based on where you live, and it can be hard to get an exemption to that assignment. So if you live in a district with a crappy or dangerous school, your alternative options are (a) buy a more expensive house in a different district, (b) expensive private school, or (c) homeschooling.

            I think the ‘guns in school’ problem is highly overblown. Yes school shootings happen. But we’re also the 4th largest nation in the world by population and probably 1st in terms of media coverage, and in past generations school shootings were probably hushed up rather than blatted across the international news, so I think that like all other crimes, rates are going down slowly over time.

            But I still don’t understand how that allows children to not be in full-time education.

            In the US education policy is mostly controlled by the States; they determine what a child “must” get in terms of education. I believe most states require some sort of proficiency testing or other demonstration by homeschooling parents that they are educating their kid. Its not anything goes; kids must still get schooling until age 16. But whether the state does a good job of enforcing that or a bad one depends on the state.

            …Nor how un-qualified children can be forced into a university against it’s wishes (if that’s what you mean about ACSI etc – not a case I’m aware of).

            No, that’s not what it was about. The UC system has a special program that allows the top 10% of CA high school students automatic entry…IF your school is accredited by UC. Several Christian schools were refused accreditation by UC, and they sued to get it, because the parents sending their kids to those schools really wanted their kids to get auto-entry into UC.

            The relevant point here is that the suit demonstrates that many fundie Christian parents *want* their kids to go to mainstream universities. They don’t avoid those universities. So a University offering fundie Christian parents a place for their homeschooling science fair in exchange for interaction with mainstream university professors and grad students might very well find the fundie parents jumping at the opportunity, not running screaming from it.

            1. ” . . . if you live in a district with a crappy or dangerous school . . . .”

              Just to congenially inquire and clarify, by “dangerous school” do you mean a school with a significantly high fraction of rude, disrespectful, mean, violent bully students?

    2. You’re right.
      I have more than a few Evangelical Christian relatives, many of whom homeschool their kids. It does put them at a disadvantage. My cousin Dorothy is effectively mathematically illiterate beyond simple arithmetic and I shudder to think about what she gives her children for science education as she is an ardent creationist and her deceased husband was given to faith-healing. (No, that’s not what killed him, he died in a traffic accident and yes, she does provide adequate medical care for her children.)
      But the one opportunity that those children have to be availed of competent math and science education are programs specifically aimed at reaching homeschooled children. My nephew, Dorothy’ eldest, attended a math and science camp at Eat Carolina University and learned enough there to be accepted as a student at the university where he will commence his sophomore year in a week or two.

  4. To my mind, the over-arching defect of so-called home schooling is that it is anti-social. Children need socialization outside the family, outside the cult. The home cannot teach the politics of democracy; the agora can, and must, if we are to have the courage and the means to war against plutocracy and neoliberal economics.

    As for learning science, it’s hard going. No matter how detailed the home-schooling curriculum may be, or how devoted the mother or father as teacher, it rarely works. Kids need a trained science teacher; they need a classroom full of peers; they need to learn from one another. [and I mean in a public school environment rather than parochial–which is just an institutional extension of the cult.]

    1. I think it would be hard to teach how critical the concepts of peer review and open demonstration are in science if everything revolves around keeping oneself apart from and uncontaminated by the worldly. At any point whatsoever the faithful are allowed — encouraged– to stop their ears and refuse to listen to the mainstream, the benighted souls who privilege reason and evidence we can all see over the special mystical insights granted only to the enlightened followers of God.

      This wrecks havoc on the concept of a unified science and gives free permission for the invention of multiple pseudosciences– one for each separate community. They’ll be teaching facts without the underlying foundations. Ironically, this is exactly what Christian homeschoolers insist they’re avoiding.

    2. As someone who had a perfectly horrible experience in public school, I couldn’t agree less.

      Home schooling can be done well. There are ways of providing a social system to home schooled kids, as long as we are aware of how to do it right.

      And, I was subjected, endlessly, to the Tyranny of the Extroverts. It didn’t help. The more they tried to cram socialization down my throat, the more I withdrew, and the more I withdrew, the harder they crammed. I never did turn into an Extrovert. But yet, I’m not an axe murderer, either, despite all their fears. L

      1. Totally agree. And non-religious home-schoolers do plenty of other kinds of socialization. For one thing, they find each other (other home schoolers) and organize activities with them. Taking your kids to museums, theatre, special presentations that come through (I can think of a couple of lecture series nearby), even just shopping, along with knowing and socializing with neighbors, extended family, etc., provide plenty of socialization. Your child can join the local Audubon Society, Astronomy Society, etc., organizations that provide wonderful meetings and field trips, not to mention mixed-age groups.

        As someone once mentioned to me, school is like no other socializing a person is likely to a have at any time again in their lives. Sitting in one room with 25 other kids your age, 7 hours a day, listening to lectures during much of that time, taking meal and recess breaks with the same kids…all that can create any number of atypical, non-beneficial, sometimes permanently damaging “socialization” experiences.

        (FWIW, both my kids attended a private grade school. One went onto a public high-school and math-&-science program, the other one attended (nearly over my dead body) a Catholic HS. She was an atheist going in and coming out.)

        1. ‘ . . . school is like no other socializing a person is likely to a have at any time again in their lives. Sitting in one room with 25 other kids your age, 7 hours a day, listening to lectures during much of that time, taking meal and recess breaks with the same kids…all that can create any number of atypical, non-beneficial, sometimes permanently damaging “socialization” experiences.’

          One might reasonably also consider the effect on teachers, dealing, e.g., with chronic oppositionally defiant behavior (making it rougher on the other children), getting cussed out by students (“garden variety” of student behavior according to the pedagogically omniscient NY Times), the powers-that-be declining to remove the child to another setting for the sake of maximizing “inclusiveness” in the mainstream classroom.

          Would that every child were an Alexander, and could have her/his own Aristotle as a tutor.

          Perhaps public school should be done away with, and let the chips fall where they may?

          1. Your assessment is pretty tough. To keep this in perspective, consider that universal public education has driven an astonishing increase in literacy, and general educational knowledge necessary for a modern society. When there were no public schools the only way for an individual to thrive would be apprenticeships, and such. Most people learned only enough to perform labor. So, we owe a huge debt to public education.
            Now, your criticisms are well founded. Not every child can succeed in a classroom setting, although most seem to do well enough. My guess is that the internet will make education more individualized and solve some of the need for herding children like chickens in feedlots. Socialization is a necessary part of growing up. It will best be done in some sort of group activity. Alexanders are likely not going to all turn out well. Not sure how to improve on that.

            1. I certainly agree that public schools still serve an important purpose and are often successful. I disagree that socialization via public schools is uniformly beneficial–far from it. Certain personality types will thrive in that atmosphere; many others will wither.

  5. As an Oklahoma State grad, I have mixed feelings. I now have something else that allows me to mock OU. However, it is disturbing that these children are being indoctrinated into such a limiting way of thinking. Not only are these kids being taught a religious fallacy, but they are not being taught there are alternate ways of thinking. They are taught only their parents views of the world. If indoctrination was not bad enough, theese kids are being taught they are the center of the world by schedule and curriculum revolving around them. Theese kids are also not learning basic societal interaction skills they pick up in school. Being home schooled should be abolished except in extreme cases. We do not need to create more selfish narrow minded adults. What’s next OU? Using your great geology department to prove the earth is 10,000 years old.

    1. I would be interested to see if anything like this exists in association with OSU, in a similar way.

      I have to admit to embarrassment on this issue as I am an OU alum. I’m surrounded by co-workers who homeschool their kids, I have a large family contingent on Facebook that is godawfully goddy, and an overwhelming majority of politicians running this state are godawfully goddy as well. It’s a richness of embarrassments.

      The only reprieve I have are my children, both of whom have come upon atheism on their own. We never addressed religion at home and they never brought it up. I’ve come to learn their positions as young adults , and it’s quite heart warming, to say the least. One of them is engaged to a young woman who remains staunchly atheist despite growing up in a Baptist household and acquiring her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University. I admire her greatly.

  6. Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are some verses that develop principles that can be related to your project. The intent is to relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe.

    The beauty of this technique is that it prepares the young believer for a lifetime of faith, since this is pretty much an ingrained habit with the so-called “liberal” versions of Spirituality. Find some way, any way, which allows you to connect scientific fact with religious faith, harmonizing the living fuck out of ideas which seemingly have no rational connection.

    The only real difference with this more literal group is that these techniques will only strain so far — if we’re supposed to get into theology and all.

    1. Well put…just looking at the bible verse as the driving factor of the overall science theme is proof that they are “find(ing) some way, any way, which allows you to connect scientific fact with religious fact, harmonizing the living fuck out of ideas which seemingly have no rational connection.”

      Not all the scriptures can be read, but the ones that can be read reinforce this observation.

      Topic: How Fast is your Mind?
      Verse: Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.

      Topic: Taste Sensation
      Verse: They have ears, but they hear not, noses have they, but they smell not.

      Talk about a horrible way to learn science! It is the absolute opposite of the scientific method. As PCC said, confirmation bias pure and simple.

  7. Full disclosure: I homeschool my son because his learning style and writing disability were ill-served in public school. Year after year I watched his bright shine and interest in learning fade. He really needed one-on-one attention and non-traditional ways of testing. The school was always dragging their feet about accommodations.

    Now almost a year later we are finally hitting our groove. His math knowledge is fantastic compared with what he was getting in school. He has extensive scientific knowledge, we also spend a great deal of $ on materials, microscope, etc. But then I do have a BS and work in the medical field.

    He is very social, has relationships with other children in our neighborhood, and my mother’s.

    I realize maybe our situation is unique, I just want to say in some circumstances it can fulfill a real need and be successful.

    -Although I have yet to join a homeschool group because most around here (Texas!) are Xtian based and I am not nearly, shall we say. . . diplomatic enough.

    1. It is your experience, and it seems a good one at last, but we can’t do much with it.

      Who knows, when we check the facts it may be revealed that home schooling has been putting US off from making necessary accommodations. An allowed lack of oversight would be a bad-quality-of-the-gap opportunity for the penny wise, dollar dumb.

      1. Home-schooling here is overseen by the Ministry of Education, just like all schools. They run official programmes, have home-visiting teachers who are available for advice etc. I don’t know much about it, but every effort seems to be made to ensure the child doesn’t suffer from not attending a mainstream school.

        Traditionally in NZ it was rural children who were home-schooled, and that was about isolation. Thus religion wasn’t the driver, so it developed differently from the start. At high school the kids usually attended boarding school, and the state paid for or subsidized that if necessary. Home-schooling for religious reasons is a fairly rare and recent phenomenon here. My impression is that the most common reasons children are home-schooled now are bullying or illness.

    2. “He really needed one-on-one attention and non-traditional ways of testing”

      Most school districts have legal requirements to provide accommodations (I don’t know Texas laws). As you noted, they may have (seemed to) drag their feet. The issue may well be inadequate resources (obviously I don’t know the details of your case). I’m happy to hear your son is doing well under home tutelage.

      A one-on-one teacher for a student is … extremely expensive. (A factor of about 30X on a typical student.)

      My wife is a primary teacher in the St. Paul – Minneapolis area (in a top-notch public school). In the end, the public schools have to “take all comers” and are legally bound to figure out how to accommodate them (and are labeled failures if they don’t). The local (very expensive) private school gets to send all their special-needs kids to the public school for all their special ed segments, etc., at no charge (except to the taxpayers).

      Some kids really do need a teacher devoted only to them. Is that really, really expensive? Yes. More and more mandates like this continue to applied to public schools (including really good ones like those in Minnesota) with grossly inadequate resources being provided.

      (Leaving aside completely the fact that many kids come to school needing to be parented by the school system. My wife and her colleagues are constantly sending their students home with: Food, clothing, winter jackets, mittens, boots, books, back packs, etc., etc. — paid for out of their own pockets.)

    3. In an ideal pedagogical universe, I reasonably assume everyone would do better with her/his own personal tutor.

  8. I really cannot see how the home schooling is good for the child. Private school (religious) is also not good. All of us in the U.S. can find problems of all kinds with the public schools in the various states but by mass abandonment of the public schools we only insure the public system continues to decline.

    All of this is why we have what you see here. With about 1.7 million home schooled and 5.2 million more in private school, coming up with a standard to improve education in 50 different states becomes a joke.

    Then look at the people we have in politics at every level and wonder, how did it get like this. Actually, it was easy.

      1. I suppose so but what does that do to fix a broken system. We have 50 different states basically doing their own thing because at the local level we think we know what is best for the kids. That thinking has not worked very well for over 200 years but still, we want it.

        And so, on top of 50 states going their own way, 1.7 million parents going their own way is even better. All I can say is look at the results. Compare this with the civilized world and then tell us what you would do with your kid because really, that is what matters.

        1. I feel it’s primarily my job to do the best for my kids, not contribute to some (likely meaningless) gesture to ‘fix the system’.

          I’m not sure I can necessarily support a mandated, Bismark style, standardized model where everyone gets the same level of government indoctriniation. All fine and good when the government mandated model happens to agree with our own, but this will not necessarily be the case.

          There was a comment by Obama recently about private schooling not engendering a ‘trust in government’. Well, duh, true. That comment seems to suggest that he views government schooling as a tool to develop a lot of government loving syncophants.

          (funny, his kids don’t go to the DC public schools)

          1. ” . . . Bismark style, standardized model where everyone gets the same level of government indoctriniation.”

            Whether it government or religious or private, is it the reality that “indoctrination” is inescapable, and it becomes a matter of adults imposing their favorite/preferred indoctrination on youngsters?

            1. Not always. My job as my son’s educator is to expose him to knowledge in a scientific method style: teaching him to evaluate his sources, examine the evidence- to raise a critical thinker.

              1. Yes, I see what you’re saying, and I agree. One certainly doesn’t need any training, certification or experience in education to sit on a school board. I don’t know of any mandatory minimum education qualification, do you?

                Perhaps public school should be done away with, let it be privatized by the monied “job creators” in whatever forms, and see what sort of “interesting times” we live in, eh?

              2. Sorry, I don’t think that option is any better. For-profit universities are certainly dragging down academia. Public schools are probably rather like Churchill’s democracy–the worst solution except for all the others. And there are many thousands of excellent teachers and wonderful mentors devoted to public education. An awful lot of its problems involve local politics, chaotic funding, and impoverished families.

          2. “I feel it is primarily my job to do the best for my kids”

            Exactly my position. In our case I was very reluctant to homeschool but I felt strongly that I would be failing my child as a parent if he continued in public school, his situation was that dire. Our situation was unique, but goes to show that it can fulfill a need successfully.

              1. thank you I needed that! I often have doubts and fears about it, but always come back to the same conclusion.

  9. WOW. My son got his EE/CS degree there back in the 90s. This is really bizarre!

    I’m not categorically against home schooling, or events for homeschooled kids, but pushing the Bible into science by a public university is shocking.

  10. Sooners = people who cheated during the Oklahoma land rush by entering early and making an illegal land claim.

    1. “Sooners = people who cheated during the Oklahoma land rush by entering early and making an illegal land claim.”

      I think Oklahomans generally take a certain pride in the moniker “Sooners,” though perhaps not all understand its provenance.

  11. Minor nit: the webpage at the Wayback link includes a date of 2012 (bottom right of the document at the link) so maybe (I write without much hope) the university has disentangled itself from this sordid activity.

    If nothing else, however, the event gives little Christian boys and girls early practice in twisting bible verses to mean anything they want them to mean. It would be perversely fun to go to such a fair and engage some students in theological discussions about their “misinterpretation” of the scripture on their display boards.

    1. “It would be perversely fun to go to such a fair and engage some students in theological discussions about their “misinterpretation” of the scripture on their display boards.”

      No, I think those kids have been abused quite enough!

      1. After I hit the “post” button I thought someone might take my comment as you have. Please be assured that abusing children is not what I meant nor what I do for fun, perverse or otherwise.

  12. Ugh, Christian homeschooling. I had to go through three years of it, 5th through 7th grade. Yep, the textbooks (except math) were all from A Beka, and there’s probably nothing I could tell you about them that would surprise you at this point. I ate it all up because I was a good Christian boy back then, but I wised up when I grew up.

    I think a flaw of homeschooling that no one talks about is that it assumes any parent can be a teacher. Being a teacher is just like any other kind of profession, some people are better qualified for it than others, and my mother certainly wasn’t. Biblical and creationist crap aside, I don’t think the quality of my education in those years was any better or worse than what I would have gotten in the public schools.

    1. Yes, well at least you would not have been reading that Beka crap so the text books would have been better…assuming you are not in the south.

      1. Yeah, good point. I lived in Ohio during the home school years, but when I was released back into the public school wild, it was in Texas. But this was 1994, years before McLeroy etc. started running our textbook standards into the ground, so I did learn accurate information about things like plate tectonics and geologic time in 8th grade science.

    2. “I think a flaw of homeschooling that no one talks about is that it assumes any parent can be a teacher.”

      So the alternative is for government to decide who should teach and what they should teach? Let me assure you there are some damned lousy teachers in the school system (some of whom should be,but can’t be fired). Often even a less educated but concerned parent is a better choice than production line education by strangers.

      1. “Let me assure you there are some damned lousy teachers in the school system (some of whom should be,but can’t be fired).”

        Well, there are not a few “lousy” human beings – of whatever age and station in life – eh?

        By “but can’t be fired” do you mean can’t be fired “for cause”? Or can’t be fired expeditiously due to “due process”? (I gather you’re against tenure.)

        In my ten years of full-time substitute teaching I’m sure I’ve run into at least a few mediocre teachers, though the transient nature of subbing doesn’t allow me to stick around to presume to meaningfully evaluate a teacher, assuming I had any standing to do so.

        Speaking for myself, I think I do a pretty good job teaching, as a result of my de facto “apprentice” experience (and some so-called “lateral entry” certification coursework). The reason I so far have not sought – again – to transition to the permanent regular classroom teacher community is because I have encountered too many grievously misbehaving students. (To what ought this misbehavior be attributed?) It’s not just teaching; it’s also parenting and high-octane baby sitting. The legislature in its wisdom defines the teacher’s responsibility as “in loco parentis.” I’ve learned to generally not take long-term assignments; I can handle most any bad classroom situation for a day.

        If I were a reg. perm. teacher, I would be tempted to offer to take a slight-to-nominal cut in pay in exchange for not having to deal with (if not “lousy”)loutish, rude, disrespectful, abusive students. Getting cussed out by a student is not a carrot to enter or remain in the field. If anyone presumes to tell me that dealing with such misbehavior is just part of the deal, then I would say that ANYONE (especially Romneyesque privateers who see education only as just another way to make a buck) has no less a “right” or “privilege” or “duty” to labor in the pedagogical vineyard.

          1. ‘I suspect that “can’t be fired” involves a strong teachers’ union’

            Is a less strong, or weaker, or weak or no teacher’s union preferable?

            The purpose of a union is to (try to) prevent the Masters of Mankind from treating flesh-and-blood human beings as merely and solely human “resources” and “capital.”

            Anyway, from the recent NY Times, some school systems are in a world of hurt trying to attract teachers. Teachers are recommending to high school students not to enter teaching. Education school enrollment is markedly down. Guess college students are even more bottlenecking the doors of colleges of business.

            1. Teachers’ Unions–unions in general–are vital. IMO the only thing that will–may–ever salvage the world economy will be the rise of international labor unions to combat the overreaching of international corporations.

              But the key is always a balance; both labor & management need some sort of regulation to avoid (ultimately self-defeating) egregious excess of power.

  13. Presume these Kids will then have to attend a Faith Based College to help further their ignorance, and set them well on the road to nowhere. I often feel like getting hold of these Numpties and try to shake some bloody sense into them.

  14. Christian entries (not to be confused with entries by Christians) can be rather sad. I once judged a regional science fair, in which a student from a Christian school submitted a project that involved growing small house plants. Her conclusion: “Photosynthesis is a miracle from God.” How stunted and impoverished must her education have been to produce such an outcome.

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