A while back, we reviewed a curriculum called Sassafras Science in the magazine. Our curriculum reviewer was so excited about it—and who could blame her? It sounded awesome: Science built around storytelling, with a narrative that introduces key science concepts through the adventures of the story’s main characters. Our reviewer enjoyed it, her kids loved it, and it seemed like a great program for secular homeschoolers to check out. Except, as it turns out, it isn’t secular.
One of our missions here at home/school/life is to connect our readers with the very best secular homeschool resources. Sometimes, that isn’t as easy as it sounds—particularly with science materials. In this case, HSL recommended a science program that describes itself as neutral science. (“Neutral science” is a weird term that’s being used in homeschool circles to describe science that gives religious philosophy equal space with objective data, implying—problematically—that both have equal scientific value.) The volume our reviewer looked at didn't raise any red flags for her, and her review didn't raise any red flags for me. But that’s the problem: Non-secular science isn’t always immediately recognizable, but it’s our job to dig deeper. In this case, I didn’t dig deep enough. It’s my error, and I’m sorry.
In the fall issue, we’ll be discussing ways we can all recognize non-secular science when it’s not clearly identified as such—something that will help all of us find the resources we want. And here at home/school/life, we’ll continue to focus exclusively on secular resources and to apologize when we get it wrong.