My chief desire for Sonlight is to help you raise children prepared to do whatever God calls them to do.
In order to do that well, Sonlight presents multiple views on various issues. Students in today's world quickly realize that not everything is black and white. They are exposed sooner or later to many sides of an issue and many different viewpoints – in history, art, science, technology, nutrition, music, politics, etc. I believe students must be able and willing to compare conflicting ideas and think critically.
I most definitely believe in absolute truth. But my experience, and I suspect yours, is that in many areas of study, the truth is rather hard to get at. We certainly know that Jesus is the only way to God. That's a truth that's pretty clear according to the Bible. But what about when the truth in other areas isn't that clear? I believe we then must learn to engage the issue and discern a more nuanced picture.
Sonlight mom Heidi L reads and discusses with her son Joshua
Take the field of history, for example. Every historical account is written from a point of view. Ancient first-hand accounts, historical fiction, textbooks, biographies … they all come from the point of view of a particular individual or group. So how can we really know what history was like?
Was the colonization of America the perfect fulfillment of God's desires for a new nation? Or was it the godless slaughter of an indigenous population? The answer is probably somewhere between these two views. Accordingly, it would be irresponsible to present either account solely as black-and-white truth. It would be equally irresponsible to ignore either account.
With Sonlight's approach, we offer tools, notes, instructions and invitations for students to examine various views and accounts, and to work toward the truth carefully. And so our American history courses include materials written by people who represent various populations and viewpoints. We include notes in the Instructor's Guide to help you, the parent, discuss this with your children. For example, we help you explain to your children why the settlers and the indigenous populations might report the same event in different ways.
But why go to all this effort?
I believe this is what true education entails. Children must learn to take in competing information, and with their parents' help, weigh that information, ask questions and discern truth. You then can help them respond reasonably and wisely.
Our children will be bombarded with conflicting information their entire lives. Let's help them learn what to do with it!
Another reason for Sonlight's approach is to help you, the parent, pass on your own values and beliefs to your children. We also know that your children will encounter false ideas someday; we'd prefer that they have the opportunity to engage these ideas for the first time when they are at home with you, under your guidance.
I could go on, but I think others have already written well on this topic. If you'd like to learn more, please check out a few of the other places where we describe our approach:
- Reasons #6 and 14 in 27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight
- Goals #5-8 in Sonlight's Top Ten Goals
- Reasons #7 and 11 in 27 Reasons Families Love Sonlight
- Luke's blog post: Do You Declare or Converse?
- Luke's blog post: Homeschooling Lets You Transfer Your Values and Beliefs
I've seen Sonlight's approach bear much fruit in my now-adult children. How have your own children benefited from considering more than one side to an issue?