From the project leader, Douglas Hayworth, to home school parents and bloggers, curriculum publishers, Christian watchdogs, ASA volunteers and anyone else taking an early interest in the development of this website. Thank you for your participation.
I believe that this website can be a tremendous help to thousands of home educators, but this will be possible only if both organizers and participants keep to a well-defined structure, style of presentation and spirit of exchange. We each hold particular views and strong beliefs about the topics concerned, and we must keep our passions in check if we are to provide genuine assistance and avoid adding to the noise.
I recognize that until a significant body of content is added to the site, many will have doubts as to what might be our true agenda. No amount of reassurance in advance by me or the ASA council will entirely alleviate concerns about these matters. Nor will everyone be satisfied with our agenda even if we communicate it clearly and abide by it in practice. Nevertheless, I believe it is important that our mission be clearly stated for our audience and fully supported by our volunteers.
Therefore, I want to provide this opportunity for everyone to critique and discuss the project mission as stated in the About this Project page, as well as to consider several operational guidelines that I suggest we adopt. Although these specific guidelines are not absolute or final, they do represent more than a year of personal study and reflect the general position articulated in the project proposal which was approved by the ASA council. I certainly welcome questions and suggestions for refinement and clarification of details; however, I do believe that the general approach is sound, and I expect that our volunteers will embrace the spirit of it.
1. The “About” pages will clearly and accurately state the goals and mission of the HSR project and the values of the ASA.
- Put yourself in the position of a non-scientist homeschooling parent and carefully read the About the ASA and About this Project pages. Is the message understandable, clear and positive?
- If you are an ASA member, are you comfortable with the characterization it gives of our organization?
- Finally, after reading the remainder of this post (i.e., the guidelines that follow), do you feel that the About pages accurately summarize these guidelines?
2. Established (i.e., consensus) science will be the standard and benchmark for evaluation of science materials.
- Established consensus science means the body of scientific theory and knowledge that is generally accepted by the scientific community at large.
- Standard for evaluation means that we will promote established science and encourage our audience to learn it and adopt it as a foundation for scientific inquiry. National science standards (e.g., see here and here) will be our guide for what science content ought to be learned in grades K-12. We will hold in highest regard those materials that explain and commend established science while also acknowledging points of contemporary scientific debate. However, we will not concern ourselves with defending it against the objections of naysayers or the new and untested claims of scientific “visionaries”.
- Benchmark for evaluation means that we will review textbooks and other materials for their conformity to established science. A primary objective of our reviews will be to identify omissions, additions, deficiencies and deviations relative to established science. The purpose is neither to disparage nor to advocate particular views but rather to disclose differences from an agreed upon reference.
- An important application of this guideline is that our primary criterion for selecting science curriculum reviewers will be that they are qualified scientifically and academically. Even for materials contributed by our own ASA members, we will seek to provide “objective” reviews of their contents.
3. Basic Christian belief will be the context for discussion and exploration of the implications of natural science.
- Basic Christian belief means an affirmation of the Christian gospel as succinctly articulated in the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. We will regard everyone who affirms this gospel as “Christian” and those who expressly disavow it as “non-Christian”. We will promote, defend and affirm this basic Christian belief, and we will not give any particular attention to other religious or “world” views.
- Context for discussion and exploration means that we will encourage our audience to learn about and evaluate how established science might properly relate to Christian belief, faith and practice. We will attempt to identify and describe how various theological traditions and denominations react to science. However, we will not endorse particular views, except to esteem those that attempt to embrace and find consistency with established science.
- It may seem backward that I have prioritized “established science” before “basic Christian belief”. Although it is true that we in the ASA highly esteem the value and legitimacy of the process called science, we do not intend this order to be taken as a universal statement about the authority of science over scripture. Instead, the priority is appropriate for the context of this project, which is first about science education and secondarily how that topic relates to Christian belief.
4. Christian homeschool parent-teachers seeking to evaluate and supplement their science curriculum (and obtain additional teacher training) will be the primary target audience.
- That our focus is Christian homeschool parent-teachers means that all our content will be crafted and presented with this group’s needs in mind. This is not in any way intended to exclude other, slightly different audiences: Christian or secular school teachers, non-Christian homeschoolers, youth workers, Sunday school teachers, self-learners, etc. Rather, it ensures that our main audience is always served. Besides, resources that are accessible to non-scientist parents will also be useable by trained school teachers and others.
- Seeking means that our goal is to provide helpful information to those who already have some interest in learning more about established science and the broader Christian dialogue. It is not our purpose to convince people that they should take established science seriously. Rather, we will mostly assume that our visitors are ready and willing to do so.
- Evaluate and supplement their science curriculum means that we want to provide our audience with (1) sufficient review data to compare available curricula with respect to a variety of metrics and (2) helpful materials to supplement their existing curricula. It is not our aim to produce and publish our own complete curriculum.
“Our purpose is to inform” is the key statement of our mission. The guidelines suggested above merely set some boundaries on what that information should be and how it should be presented.
Humbly submitted for your review,