Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More on "The Brainy Bunch" book

The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding has some useful information, but there are parts with which I disagree:

1)"Professional educators" do not diagnose children with ADD. (On page 16, the Hardings write, "We won’t address the issue of ADD in this book except to say that many a child has been mislabeled by professional educators only to completely excel when brought home to be educated.") ADD is a mental disorder (included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Teachers train to teach; doctors train to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Teachers keep records of their observations, and sometimes those observations include things like This morning, shortly after entering the classroom, Student X took apart his mechanical pencil and, using the pieces and a rubber band, built a weapon with it. When a teacher is concerned about a student, the teacher requests a meeting with parents and other faculty (an administrator, a counselor, a resource teacher, the school psychologist, etc.). The parents may choose to have their child assessed by a doctor, but this is up to the parents. The child's doctor can then determine if the child has special needs. (To take this one step further, when I send a child to the nurse, I can only report facts, such as Student X says she feels hot. I cannot say Student X has a fever, because this is a diagnosis.) I agree that my student who took apart the mechanical pencil would be better educated in a one-on-one setting, however, I do not agree that he would be better educated at home because this particular child's stay-at-home parent cannot read.

2)Sometimes God orchestrates things so that the father will be the stay-at-home parent. (On page 31, the Hardings write, "My husband and I have an understanding that he will be the provider and I will be the keeper of the home. This works for us. My role as a wife and mother gives me a lot of joy and security. I put my trust in God to provide for us through my husband. I know this may not be a popular view, but it is a biblical one.") To doubt that God will provide through whomever He has placed in the role of provider would be anti-biblical, but it is not anti-biblical for a father to raise his child and a mother to work outside the home.

3)The Hardings have let their children live with relatives, in dorms, and in apartments while they are still minors. While this has worked for them, I think it is definitely one of the issues a parent has to consider before following the Hardings' college by 12 plan. 

4)On page 89, the Hardings write, "This is a great disaster that has come upon families around the world. Instead of beautiful, thriving, bountiful households, people settle for smaller visions, short-term results, and simpler expectations. We all need to trust in God's Word more. He did not say, 'Be fruitful and divide,' nor 'subtract,' nor even 'add,' but 'Be fruitful and multiply.'" It's wonderful that the Hardings have chosen to have ten children, but to use Old Testament commandments (to Adam and Eve to initially populate the earth, to Noah to repopulate the earth, and to Jacob to father the Israelite nation) to judge other - less fruitful - people as contributing to a great disaster is preposterous and offensive.

5)Short essays written by the Harding children are interspersed throughout the book. These essays are well-written and sweet, but not literary. One of the things that draws me to Charlotte Mason is the emphasis on literature. I want my daughter's writing to be grammatically correct, generous, and artful.

6)The Hardings don't do lab science with their children (pg. 147). Their children read books about science, and when they go to college, they do lab science at school.

7)Chapter 14 ("Ideas, Exercises, and Experiments") is uninspiring. There are better suggestions on homeschoolers' blogs and Pinterest pages.

8)On page 154, the Hardings write about why their children do not do extracurricular activities: "We do not always explain that we choose to pursue extracurriculars at the college level. We do not want to hurt their feelings but we think it is important for others to see our kids as college students." In Fresno, California, where I was born and raised, I participated in community theater with Good Company Players. On Sunday, another Fresnan and Good Company Players player Audra MacDonald won her sixth Tony Award. In her acceptance speech, MacDonald thanked her parents for "disobeying the doctors’ orders and not medicating the hyperactive girl, and finding out what she was into instead, and pushing her into the theater." This is up to parents. Extracurriculars can be costly and time consuming, or (like community theatre) free and time consuming, but they can also be the way children discover what they are good at and passionate about. 

For my earlier post about The Brainy Bunch, click here.


  1. Thanks Mariel! Does the book mention what Universities the children have attended? Does it mention a typical day for them? Do these kids get to be kids? Does it feel like this is something the parents want accomplished, or are the children interested as well? How do they prepare their children spiritually? What is their reason for starting college at 12? Again, thanks for your valuable input.

    1. I hope this helps:

  2. A very thorough and thoughtful analysis Mariel! And to be fair, before I start, I want to acknowledge that Mona Lisa did state, “it may not be a popular view, but it is 'a' Biblical one.”

    That said, if we are going to discuss what constitutes being a Godly woman of the Bible, may we begin with the prophetess Anna? Luke 2:36-37 says, “She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.” It isn’t impossible, or even unlikely, that she may have had children. But we have no confirmation of that, one way or the other, in Scripture.

    And what of Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Elizabeth? From what we know, each of these women was desperate to have children. But factor in the cultural stigma attached to barrenness. Did sheer peer pressure play into that desire, perhaps as strongly as the command to “be fruitful and multiply”. Often, childlessness was viewed (by others - people) as a judgment dealt a sinful woman/couple by God Himself. This was not one of the ten Commandments. Note that in the New Testament, the Apostle (!) Paul stated in Corinthians 7:7, “I wish that all of you were as I am”, ie. SINGLE… Uh oh ! But let’s get back to these five. Ultimately each had at least one child. And when the blessing came, it was extended not just to them, but to the generations to come!

    Ah, then there is Proverbs 31. “A wife of noble character who can find? 
She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her 
and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm,
 all the days of her life. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks…She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings (HER earnings!) she plants a vineyard…She sees that her trading is profitable,
 and her lamp does not go out at night…When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
 for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed;
 she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land (Clearly, at least in part, because of her, her husband is well respected, and has the leisure to sit “among the elders”). She makes linen garments and sells them,
 and supplies the merchants with sashes.”

    Next, consider the account of Lydia, in the book of Luke. She sold clothing, expensive clothing, dyed purple; which because of the shellfish gland that was its source, it was one of the most difficult colors to achieve in the dying process. It was generally available only to royalty, and persons of high standing. So, while Scripture does recount that she “and her household” were baptized, one might naturally conclude there existed a husband and children, but in legal parlance, that’s called “assuming facts not in evidence”.

    And last, but certainly not least, in the New Testament we read of the women who monetarily supported the ministry of JESUS ! See Luke 8:3 “Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

    Then, one final point. If this couple is indeed raising their numerous offspring (INCLUDING their daughters!), to be such rapacious learners and doers, perhaps, they should also consider that (and I’m not saying it’s a BAD thing!), at some point, it might prove problematic!

    1. Thank you!

      I think you could write a whole book about what it means to be a Godly woman from this perspective. I'm sure there are lots of women who would appreciate it. I would be first in line at your book signing!