This post has been a long time in coming. And yet, I still don't feel qualified to write it. So I'm stating this up front: I don't feel wise enough to say this perfectly. I would love to hear your thoughts and continue the dialog.
The first time I felt prompted to write about this topic was after reading Karen Campbell's call to say, "This is wrong and it must stop." I immediately started writing a response, but after three days of not saying it correctly, I gave up.
Then, yesterday, I read a forum thread which asked Sonlight to stop riding the fence about young earth/old earth. Again, I started writing. But I ran out of time and brain power.
Today, I hope to finally post something on this topic.
Let us begin this discussion by reviewing a few of the Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight:
- We believe you should introduce your children to the difficult subjects.
- We want to encourage students to think critically and to act with gracious humility toward those who hold differing views.
- Sonlight's broad vision, at points, may irritate you.
That's a very solid foundation for why Sonlight isn't likely to stamp our foot down on one side of a line or another. Not because we don't believe strongly about a great many things, but that we stick closely to our company mission and vision. Sonlight exists to serve you in your home education. We're not here to tell you what to think, believe or do.
Which leads to another phrase that we often use within the building:
We're here to educate, not indoctrinate.
Certain teachers seem bent on swaying us to their side, their method, their view. Some ideas seem to shield themselves off from criticism by repeating the mantra, "We're right, you're wrong." Both of these approaches, while certainly effective, feel very counter-educational to me. We're here to provide you with tools that will enable you to learn. How you use those tools is entirely up to you.
Beyond all this, I think there is enough ambiguity in this world that taking a stand on certain issues just doesn't feel right. I know it didn't for my dad. For many years Sonlight explicitly took a stand on the young earth side. Then, in 1999:
That year, in our Instructor's Guides, my dad shared his journey and research. Sonlight's curriculum didn't really change, but our approach and stance took on a much more humble and open tone.
Because of the reasons stated above. We want to give you the best information we can find and leave it up to you. We want to present both sides because we believe that coming down on one side doesn't serve you the best. And because the research we conduct has proved to be less and less conclusive.
I don't want Sonlight to ever become a company that does what one of my Bible professors did to me: He gave me a C on a paper simply because I disagreed with him on one point. Even worse, rather than trying to educate me, he took the time to write five paragraphs berating me for the audacity I had to dare disagree.
I somehow still ended up with an A in the class. <smile> And Sonlight, way back in 1999, demonstrated one more aspect I love about this company: We listen to feedback and continue to try to learn more ourselves. Because, honestly, what good is an education company that doesn't continue to educate itself?
So, why doesn't Sonlight take a stand on certain issues? Because we're an education company dedicated to serving you with the best home education materials out there. We believe you should work through these sticky subjects with your students--when appropriate--so they can go out into the world and be winsome ambassadors for Christ. And if you don't like that, then perhaps, just perhaps, Sonlight's not for you.
... <deep breath> ...
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester