Homeschool Book Reviews
Thursday, July 10, 2008
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I'm beginning to prep the St. Joseph Academy for Wayward Children, and of course I started by reading a lot of books!

I borrowed several homeschooling books from the library as I try to organize my year.

Some are telling of my fears for the upcoming year - Homeschooling The Child with ADHD, which also includes advice for other special needs.

It is not a book about homeschooling, but about homeschooling a special needs child and one should be familiar with homeschool basics before reading it. It starts at the beginning - getting a diagnosis, and discusses the question should you?

It addresses support and criticisms from family and friends, getting help from the public school system, a few homeschool philosophies that seem particularly suited to special needs, finding materials, and helping your child learn. I haven't finished it yet, but it seems full of good information for both newbies and veteran homeschoolers alike.

Some weren't as helpful as I had hoped - The Organized Homeschool. It's more a Bible study for organization and wasn't particularly helpful to me. The tips were nothing I hadn't heard before. I'm probably going to try Dawn's file folder method.

Some were horribly disappointing, such as Ruth Beechick's A Biblicial Home Education. I had expected to perhaps not agree with everything in the book, but still glean some useful techniques. Ruth Beechick is the grandmother of Christian Homeschooling in America. Surely her book would be great!

I had to stop reading by chapter two, due in part to the unfriendly writing style and partly to the shocking misinformation. She declares that teaching the Rapture is necessary for any true Bible believing church going homeschooler (really? I'm an amillenialist, myself, and that is perfectly Biblical). Her version of the way we got the Bible goes like this:

Church leaders agreed on which writings were part of the "canon" to be added to the Hebrew Scriptures and which were not. When the King James translators went to work, they had more than 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament...
...While all that was going on, other people were trying to tear down God's Word."
A Biblical Home Education, p. 18-19

She includes any translation based in any part on the Vaticanus or Sinaiticus manuscripts as one of the translations "trying ot tear down God's Word". She also glosses over the actual facts of the Council(s) of Hippo, and the 1200 years of Scriptural history between those Councils and the first King James Edition!

While there is a case to be made for the Majority Text (Masoretic Text), it is also a witness, not the original manuscript of the Hebrew Scriptures, just as the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus texts are witnesses to the Septuagint, and not the original texts.

Dr. Beechick claims to avoid the Vaticanus manuscript because it was written by Origen, but Origen lived in the second and third century AD and the Vaticanus is dated to the fourth century. Scholars believe that the Bible by Origen and the Vaticanus probably come from the same source manuscript.

She claims the Codex Vaticanus/Eusebian bible based on them disappeared until the 1800's, when it was rediscovered. Also not true; it was well known throughout the world that the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus were housed at the Vatican library. It was used to produce a Roman version of the Septuagint in the 16th century.

I think she hates it because it is probably Alexandrian in origin, and contains the Septuagint - the Old Testament canon used at the time of Christ by Greek Jews - and therefore contains the deuterocanonical books.

Dr. Beechick claims the Septuagint was written in the third century (She leaves off the "B.C." part, leaving readers to assume that the Septuagint was a manuscript written while the church leaders were trying to nail down the canon. The Septuagint was written and used by the Jews hundred of years before Christ's birth, a very important point.)

How can I glean any information from a book that so obviously ignores history and makes up facts to fit a preconceived agenda? How can I trust any of the other information in the book to be reliable?

I also borrowed Trust the Children, by Anna Kealoha, which I am planning to purchase. It is very modern education/new age, but has tons of great ideas for games in all subjects.

The author and I differ on the very nature of the student; she holds to Socrates' postulation that human nature is inherently good, people only perform evil actions out of ignorance, and Rousseau's theory that people are naturally good, with evil coming from institutions (the Church, specifically.)

I hold the Catholic view that we are all sinners, damaged by Original Sin, and it takes an act of the will (and the grace of God) to do good.

She holds that children are like flowers - they have everything they need to learn, if we would just step back and let them bloom.

I hold that children are like flowers, but they need a careful gardener ready to water and feed when needed, and also ready to pull out weeds and prune back damaged branches.

The chapters on educational philosophy are thankfully short and easily skipped, and most of the book is full of wonderful ideas for alternative learning. I think it will be well worth the $18 cover price, but of course I'm going to try to find it used first!

What homeschool books can you not live without?

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Art: Picking Apples, by Frederick Morgan

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