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.