Last week, a student who uses our DIVE CDs emailed me to verify an error in problem number 24 of Saxon Calculus, 2nd edition, Problem Set 63. Although this error did not actually affect the final answer, it was an error nonetheless, and was missed by the editors of the Saxon Solutions Manual. EVERY curriculum has a few errors, including the products my company, DIVE LLC, produces, so the point of this article is not to ridicule Saxon Publishers for their errors. The point is to talk about educating children. If you visit the DIVE website or read a DIVE catalog, you will quickly understand that I think it is time to “raise the standard” in K-12 education, and this includes completing calculus in high school. I realize not every student can accomplish this goal, but there is nothing wrong with at least making that the goal with the possibility of falling short.
So what is the big deal about this student who found an error? Well, he’s 12 years old. And he is home educated. By his parents. Obviously, this boy has an aptitude for math that exceeds that of most 12-year olds and even many adults, but the fact remains that he is almost halfway-through a course that is the equivalent of college Calculus I. And if there are 12-year olds out there who can do calculus, there are even more 13, 14, 15+ year olds who can do calculus.
Most people today realize the potentials of homeschooling, but strangely enough, there are still those who want to eliminate it. According to an article in the November/December 2010 issue of The Home School Court Report, American homeschooling is entering a “Third Wave” of persecution. The first wave had to do with education. Could parents really educate children at home? While there are some parents who do a really bad job at educating, the same can be said of many government and private schools. And in today’s world, 12-year olds doing calculus would be a real surprise in a government school and most private schools, but not in a home school.
The second wave of persecution was about the issue of socialization, but the evidence now weighs heavily against that idea, too. While the first two waves of persecution were based on false premises, the third wave of persecution is, according to HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris, essentially correct. According to Farris “Christian homeschooling parents are effectively transmitting values to their children that the elitists believe are dangerous to the well-being of both these very children and society as a whole.”
I believe God gave us the ability to do mathematics so that we could better understand His creation. I believe we should study math and science so we can know Him better and as Christians, act on the faith He gave us and get out there and be excellent at doing the work He has already prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10). I also believe we can study math and science without acknowledging its Author, but to do so, we miss half the story. There are those in society who actually think it would be better for us all if Christian 12-year old boys with above-average math aptitude were taken from their loving parents, placed in a large group, and taught a below-aptitude, godless curriculum. The boys would not learn that they were created in the image of the greatest Creator, and are therefore creative, too. Instead, their creativity will be stifled, supposedly so they fit in better with the group, and they will instead learn they were not created by a loving Father, but rather evolved from a meaningless pile of goo in a mysterious land that existed before history. And the people who promote such ideas are referred to as the “elites”? Really?
The third wave of homeschool persecution is nothing more than misguided “elitists” wanting to replace Christian religion, where we are taught to love the sinner but hate the sin, with a secular fundamentalist religion that teaches to hate some sinners and love many sins. The first two waves taught us home schoolers to surf. Skills learned in the past will help us surf this bigger, badder, third wave, too, and ensure the current freedoms American parents have to teach calculus to their math-gifted 12-year olds. But we won’t keep these freedoms if we sit around and do nothing, so get out there and surf!