A few weeks ago, I wrote about the harm of morality-based instruction, and how damaging it is to teach kids that goodness can be achieved just by emulating a list of desirable character traits. While this perspective is something I consider when I’m evaluating curricula, obviously not every subject or area of study is going to delve in to the philosophy of morality. So how do I evaluate a publisher’s or curriculum’s worldview? Here are the fifteen questions I ask when making a decision:
- Does this material assume all girls should grow up to be wives and raise children, or does it empower and inspire girls to follow whatever path God calls them to, recognizing that not all women marry, and some struggle with infertility? Does it highlight women and girls as independent actors? Does it tell stories of women beyond focusing on their roles in a family?
- Does the material promote compliance with a set of rules, or does it allow for freedom and grace?
- Does this material emphasize outward virtues and traits with the goal to get the child to imitate certain character values, or does it recognize that it’s only through a heart surrendered to Jesus that a person can only be truly transformed?
- Does the material oversimplify good and evil and present it as an easy-to-spot either-or choice; or does it teach analytical and critical thinking skills, discernment, and problem-solving?
- Does the material only present what to learn and/or believe, or does it also provide context and a “why” behind the belief?
- Does the material present history predominately from a Western perspective, or does it also present facts from a non-European point-of-view?
- Does the material perpetuate the idea of “otherness” by teaching about non-European cultures using stereotypical depictions, or does it allow for each culture to have its own strong, rich, identity?
- Does the material mainly contain books with white main characters, or does it offer books with nuanced, fully-developed, non-stereotypical heroes and heroines of diverse backgrounds?
- Does the material teach (implicitly or explicitly) that the “primary” actors in history or literature are white? Who does it teach my child to identify and sympathize with?
- Does the material attempt to “Christianize” certain historical events, or does it recognize that every event has more than one side?
- Have I truly evaluated the content and worldview of this material, or am I simply choosing this material because it’s popular in homeschooler subculture?
- Will this material allow my child to be challenged to the best of his/her God-given ability, or am I simply choosing this material because of its price point / ease-of-use / etc?
- Will this material equip my child to follow any number of career paths God might have in store for him/her, or am I choosing this material because I want my child to follow the path I have in mind?
- Is this material based on fear and reliance on man’s own goodness to combat what is perceived as evil, or does it promote courage and a reliance on Jesus?
- Is this material designed primarily to shelter and insulate my child, or is it designed to inform, equip, and empower?
This list above is excerpted from an interview I originally gave with Amanda of Sicily’s Heart & Home, on the topic of Christian education as equipping, not as sheltering.