Are you trying to decide what homeschool curriculum is right for you? Homeschool publishers often sort curriculum into secular, neutral, and Christian categories, and further divide science resources into Old Earth Creationism, New Earth Creationism, and evolution. Even with those categories, when you’re faced with dozens of catalogs, or hundreds of enticing vendors, it can be hard to know what a publisher’s worldview really is. The truth is, the nuances of worldview go far deeper than those already weighty topics.
But as a second-generation homeschooler who’s had some close scrapes with fundamentalism, I know first-hand how important it is not to cut corners when evaluating a publisher’s worldview. You have to take the time to uncover what the authors are truly trying to get across. When I’m trying to unearth the worldview of any given curriculum, I start my search by looking at the author’s perspective on on rules, religion, race, and women.
Here are the seventeen crucial questions I ask when trying to determine a homeschool curriculum’s worldview:
- 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 present a morality-first viewpoint, emphasizing 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?
What essential questions would you add?
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.