Kids and Culture

I have an idea I’m working on here that involves a version of the Critique for kids (I had that idea a while ago and a few folks on here mentioned they would be in favor of something like that, so I’m giving it a lot more thought).

After analyzing the first survey, I thought this idea would be a total no-go. The parent response came back heavily on the side of, “We’re completely comfortable with discussing pop culture with our kids” and the parents who choose not to watch movies with their kids are a vocal bunch.

So I thought about it some more and polled the parents again in a follow-up survey. The question I asked was this:

One idea we’ve had is to offer a supplemental parent pull-out that would rotate every three or four months. For example, in January we might offer parents a list of recommended books along with reviews; in February, we might offer a supplement that reviews movies kids are interested in and provides discussion questions that would both affirm and challenge the content from a biblical worldview; in March we could offer a third type of parent resource and then the cycle would roll over again with a book list in April, movie review and discussions questions in May, and so on. Would this be something your family would be interested in?

Most of the parents are in favor of the idea (40.2% said “Absolutely!” 34.4% said “I like it!” 14.5% said “Perhaps”  10% said “Not so much” and 1.9% said “No way!”) but it’s the 11.9% in the last two categories that are puzzling me.

The folks in this group are saying one of two things: 1) We get this resource from Plugged-in; 2) We don’t watch movies at all.

To the folks saying they get this already, I wish I could go back and explain again how I’m thinking this would be different from Plugged-in. I’m less interested in providing folks with a list of numbers of curse words and how many times Character A was disrespectful to his parents. I think those things need to be considered, yes (disprespectful tone in cartoon characters was the number one reason we don’t let our kids watch Arthur anymore). But the direction of the idea of a form of the Critique would be less about counting the number of times our Christian sensibilities are offended and more about taking a look at the story of the movie and discussing together, with our kids, what things we CAN affirm about it as well as what things we need to challenge.

I’m thinking that by offering this resource to the parents, the parents could then choose whether or not to share it with their kids. If that particular family is anti-movie all together, then we’ve not handed something directly to their kids they are completely offended by. On the other hand, I think this could be a very good tool for helping parents begin to engage their children with the culture in a way that does bring about themes of redemption in stories that don’t normally run around in the Christian Culture Book of Order.

Sooo…. if any of you are still around (and I’m not surprised if you aren’t because this blog has been silent and will soon probably go dark altogether), I would love to get your thoughts on this.

Thanks!

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Why We’re Doing This

The How Kids Think project has an end goal of helping God’s World Publications develop materials that will better enable parents and teachers to develop children who know how to think discerningly as Christians.

Why did we agree to do this? Let me give you an excerpt from an email we received this morning in response to our dinner discussion last night in Boca Raton:

Thank you for the delicious dinner last night at the Grille. I enjoyed our time together, and was encouraged at the work you all are doing on behalf of families like mine. I do hope the time was fruitful for you both. You have a tremendous task before you, to reach the hearts and minds of parents and schoolchildren alike, setting their “worldview” toward an “authenticity” that is much needed now.

She got it. We do indeed want to help both children and parents align their worldview with that which is truly biblical.

That’s why we’re doing this…and what we want to do more of.

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Live and Local in Florida

We will be traveling to Florida next weekend (October 26-29) and hosting three breakfast/dinner discussions which are open to anyone involved in Christian education (classroom teachers/administrators/etc. and homeschool parents). If that describes you and you live around Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Boca Raton, please consider yourself invited.

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Last Drawing Winner

Our last drawing winner for our research blog project is Rose. Congrats, Rose! And thanks for all the insightful responses you’ve consistently provided over the past six weeks.

There could be a few more questions to pop up over the next few weeks – we’d appreciate your keeping an eye on here periodically to see if something pops up.

Thanks again for all of your help! We appreciate each and every one of you.

Sincerely,

Craig and Megan

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The Third Way

It’s a bit ironic how, in this context, the public school is sometimes considered the “third way,” when that used to be the obvious first choice for all families. I realize our research has been focusing primarily on what kinds of materials GWP can produce to enable parent and classroom educators to better equip their children/students as they grow into more thinking, discerning Christians.

I also realize the goal of developing children into thinking, discerning Christians is not limited to families who have chosen homeschooling or Christian schools for their kids.

I’d like to ask the parents who have chosen public school for their kids what you feel like you could use to help you and your kids view their educational experiences through a biblical lens? What kind of publication would really encourage your family as you seek to raise your kids for the glory of God? Does it look different from what we’ve already been talking about here the past five weeks?

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How Parents Think

What do parents need in a news-ish publication for kids? One parent said:

“I sometimes feel that I don’t have a broad enough knowledge base to give a more thorough explanation of the news articles. They often raise questions that I’m unable to answer. I understand and appreciate the brevity of the articles in the lower grades, but I feel we don’t have the whole picture.”

The first time we subscribed to Early Edition (three years ago), I read the articles to my then-5 year-old and was surprised (in a good way) that a news mag for young children was informing ME of news. It didn’t particularly bother me that I didn’t “have the whole picture,” because I didn’t keep up with news on my own. I began leaning on my kids’ news publications to become my informant as well.

This could be okay for parents with young kids who might not question the content too much, but what changes as they grow? The stories become more complex in the older editions of the magazines and kids, of course, have better developed reasoning skills. If parents (like I tended to be) haven’t kept up with the news on their own, they might be in conversational trouble if they don’t know what’s going on outside of the kids’ magazines.

So what do parents need? Would more developed articles on the stories (written for adults), available on the Internet be helpful? Do you think they would be utilized? If not the Internet, then what?

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Thoughts on “Social Studies”

I put those words in quotes because in the surveys we sent out we got a lot of snide comments (really) about using that phrase as a catch-all to include history and geography. A majority of the home educators among us didn’t like that phrase AT ALL.

Call it what you will, but tell me what you think about it. I will preface this by saying I’m a loyalist. I love the curriculum company I purchase from (Sonlight) and it would take something really major to make me switch. That said, there are times the history texts put ME to sleep. I know my kids are wishing we were doing just about anything else but reading Diary of an Early American Boy. I also realize that’s a book in the science portion of Sonlight, but it’s a history book, trust me.

Many of the books used in Sonlight contain a lot of evolutionary material. I’m not afraid of teaching my kids about the theory – they need to know about it so they can defend against it; I do, however, get tired of it being so dominant. I oftentimes edit-on-the-fly as I’m reading to them just to avoid the discussion (true confession). These aren’t things that are going to make me stop using Sonlight, but I would really love to have something more engaging (and less evolutionary) for my kids in this department.

One of our teacher surveys had this to say:

“Geography and History are my subjects. Secular material gets pretty sketchy in geography because it is so hung up on an evolutionary viewpoint. Some of my history curriculum, on the other hand, has a heavy Fundamentalist Baptist bias; for example, one of Columbus’ flaws was that he was a Catholic, according to my teacher manual (so was everybody else in Western Europe during Columbus’ lifetime).”

What do you think? Do your kids love history, no matter what? Are you satisfied with the materials you are using (or your school is using)? What, if anything, would make it better?

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