One of the most popular requests received at Reasons To Believe (RTB) is for guidance in choosing a science curriculum for Christian school and homeschool applications. The ideal curriculum develops a solid foundation in science and soundly integrates science with relevant biblical texts.
However, the reality is that an overwhelming majority of educational options fall into one of two categories: they contain either (1) some degree of biblical integration mixed with problematic science (young-earth creation science) or (2) good science mixed with naturalistic philosophy, usually in the form of biological evolution (mainstream textbooks). Most teachers adopt one path or the other based on their teaching circumstances, depth of knowledge, and personal strengths.
Because of the individual nature of this decision, RTB simply aims to provide a general discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each curriculum so teachers can make an informed decision for what will work best in their particular situation. We have also put together this list of criteria and questions that educators can use when evaluating a potential curriculum. It is our hope that by carefully grounding today’s generation in good principles of science and faith, that they will one day become a powerful force for cultural transformation.
1. Biblical integration
- Is the integration between the biblical material about creation and the scientific data genuine? Is the integration stilted or forced?
- Is the integration between the biblical material about creation and the scientific data adequate and rigorous?
- Is the scientific data consistently presented within a sound biblical worldview?
- Does the student's text promote the study of God's creation as a virtuous act of discovery, something to be done to the glory of God?
- Does the student's text promote a sense of proper stewardship for God's creation?
- Does the student's text treat disputes over the age of Earth in a fair and balanced manner?
- Does the student's text treat creation as a reliable means of God's revelation to man?
2. Scientific rigor and soundness
- Is the scientific data presented in a sound and rigorous manner?
- Is the scientific content current?
- Is the scientific method adequately taught and reinforced?
- Are the major disciplines of science adequately covered (biology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and earth science)?
- Does the treatment of the age of Earth lead to any problems with its presentation of the scientific data?
- How much concentration is devoted to environmental and creation stewardship issues?
3. The art of teaching
- Does the presentation of information inspire the student to learn more about God's creation?
- Are the topics grade- and age-appropriate?
- Does the text meet state standards? Does the material allow the child to make an easy transition back to public school?
- Is the teacher's manual easy to interpret and use?
- Are the suggestions included in the teacher's manual helpful, practical, and easy to implement?
- Does the teacher's manual easily coordinate with the student text?
- Can parents-teachers not specifically trained in science use the text?
- What learning style(s) does the student's text use?
- What teaching style(s) does the teacher's manual use?
- Are the aesthetics of the layout and design appropriate? Are they too busy or otherwise problematic?
4. Supplemental materials (e.g., tests, handouts, activity ideas, etc.)
- Do experiments (or projects) directly relate to the point being taught in the lesson, or do they relate only tangentially?
- Can the experiments be performed using common household items, or are numerous special purchases required?
- Are the experiments written in age-appropriate language? Are the instructions too complicated or too vague for a child to read and interpret?
- Does the curriculum include adequate assessment tools (tests)?
- Does the curriculum include handouts and worksheets? Are the activities age-appropriate and of good quality?
- Will the parent-teacher need to search for additional materials to supplement topics not sufficiently covered in the text?