Daryl has an insider-link to an article about homeschooling at the Chemical and Engineering News website.
The American Chemical Society has a really good piece on home education in the latest edition of C&E News.
A frequent complaint in the article is the lack of “secular” science materials, which sounds to me like saying there is difficulty finding “secular” shoes. The difficulty is finding science materials that are safe for use at home, low-priced, and not packaged either as limited-use gee-whiz Christmas presents that soon break, or are “suitable for a classroom of 30.” A similar difficulty is finding shoes with the right arch, the correct width and an adequately sized toe-box. Science is science in that the proposal presents material phenonmena as accurately as is possible at the time. If the proposal does not do this, it isn’t science. This is not to say that parts of the information cannot be used for other-than-scientific reasons, or that disciplines can be ignored because they lead to uncomfortable conclusions, only that reproducible effects probably indicate that the people promoting those processes figured out how the thing works regardless of whether they are Shinto, Hindu or Presbyterian. Interpretation of the ‘why’ behind the processes is not science’s purpose.
While my kids and I were still homeschooling, for part of our chemistry studies we used the high school chemistry course from the Teaching Company. It isn’t a lab course, but rather a video presentation of the math involved in chemistry, training in how to think through the material, and one or two glitzy demos thrown in. The instructor, Frank Cardulla, is entertaining and lucid in his descriptions, such as the mnemonic that a nickel (five cents) weighs five grams. That’s something you can take to the bank.
The Teaching Company also produces science lecture courses that are suitable for older kids. The courses are “college level” but they are presented in jargon-free half-hour to 45-minute segments. Lectures aren’t a universal cup of tea, but if solid teaching is what is wanted, the courses deliver.
posted by Valerie