Saturday, June 16, 2007

Apologia's High School Science Courses are the Best College Prep

Have you ever seen the Veggie Tale’s movie called The Rumor Weed? Though the movie is a hyperbole of what a rumor can do, it’s actually quite a great allegory to life – especially in our technological world where a rumor can spread like unchecked wild fire. Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Sadly, I’ve recently heard a rumor that seems to be flying about cyberspace and the homeschool community.

The rumor involves the Apologia High School courses and works to discredit their academic and college prep potential.  I recently heard that leaders of a few classical message boards and schools have believed this rumor and are circulating this misinformation. Of course, they mean no harm. Most of them are simply stating what they have been told and have believed. We all have a tendency to believe what we hear without thoroughly examining the situation. Yet, this particular rumor deeply saddens me; first because it is untrue, second, because it causes unneeded fear and confusion for homeschoolers (who have enough to worry about) and third, because rumors are yucky. I know, not very eloquent, but it so adequately describes the nature of rumors…yucky.

On forums and email loops where this rumor is propagated, I’ve seen people post testimonies in defense of Apologia, which serves to stifle the conversation; but for some reason, the rumor seems to stay alive. Because I’ve seen this come up a few times now, I decided that it’s only fair that I should speak in defense of Apologia’s High School courses based on my experiences. I know that, as the author of their elementary courses, it may seem like I’m biased, unobjective and possibly have other motives for this. Really and truly, that is not the case.  I have no motives other than the desire to share what I know to be the truth, to clear up misunderstanding and misinformation and give homeschoolers the confidence they should have in using these courses with their high school students, easing their fears.  

Here is what I have heard: A few somewhat vocal people have said that a student going into the sciences in college should choose a different course, which, though dry and boring, covers more material and has more involved labs. I’ve even read reports of people comparing textbooks and deciding that Apologia doesn’t have all the “stuff” of the other books.

Please,  I want to set your mind at rest: As a fellow homeschool mom with a heart to see you succeed in your homeschooling and pursue this path without fear and trepidation, I can attest that Apologia has all the stuff your child needs, and nothing less than everything your child needs to greatly succeed in college science courses for science majors.

You would be amazed at the number of parents, earnestly grateful parents, that approach the Apologia booth at conventions to explain how their child has gone on to college and not only excelled in the sciences, but is pursuing higher degrees and honors in exclusive programs after using Apologia. Each one of these parents vehemently claim that they and their child give all the credit to Apologia. This doesn’t happen now and again; this happens all the time, over and over again. Sometimes the parents assure us that their child didn’t have any interest in science until they began these courses. If you could sit at the booth just one day at a convention, you would see it happen. To think that this is only a small sprinkling of students! There are probably many more that never approach the booth because they are no longer attending conventions.

I want you to feel confident in the truth that the Apologia courses are not just adequate to prepare your child for becoming a science major, they give students an advantage over their college classmates. I know that as a science major at the University of Texas, if I had used the Apologia courses, I would have been so much more prepared. My chemistry courses in high school did not explain concepts as Apologia does. In fact, I sat down with my lawyer husband, who proclaimed that he hated chemistry and never understood how to balance chemical equations, and using the Apologia Chemistry book showed him Dr. Wile’s explanations and within five minutes he was balancing chemical equations like a professional. He was perplexed that, as smart as he is, he could never understand it when it was explained in high school and college. Dr. Jay Wile has a special gift communicating scientific information.

Also, I want to add that Apologia’s author, Dr. Jay Wile, is not only more qualified than other textbook authors to write science courses based on his scientific knowledge, achievements and advances, but because he has actually taught at the college level, he is uniquely positioned to know what students need to know at the college level. He knows what concepts students struggled to understand, he understand how to communicate to young people in a way that penetrates their mind, and, again, he knows exactly what they should know. Perhaps other books have crammed more information into their year long course, and maybe the labs are more complicated and not safe to perform in one’s kitchen; the truth is – these additional things do not serve to better the quality of the textbook and do not create a quality, college-prep science course. The information found in Apologia’s courses are what a child needs to know – nothing less. If you choose to beef up the labs, that’s fine. However, it won’t give your child a better science foundation to do so. It may be more fun to do more involved labs. I think that’s a great idea if you want to do it. But it is absolutely not necessary to do this in order to give your child everything he or she needs to succeed and fully understand science.

What is so wonderful about Apologia is that it communicates scientific information using a living dialogue, which the students are able to comprehend, absorb and retain. Retention in the Apologia courses is the best I’ve ever seen. Let me give you an illustration of this:

When I have been at a convention booth with Dr. Jay Wile present, young people crowd around him to discuss science. Amazingly, normal looking kids mob the booth for hours, carrying on long conversations with Dr. Jay, asking questions and discussing fascinating scientific things they have learned. This is a true picture of what Apologia science is all about. It’s about imparting a love for science, so much so that the kids want to talk about it with the author. I just can’t see any other science textbook having this effect on normal human beings.

On top of that, Dr. Wile and his staff are always available to those using the course to clarify information, answer strange or simple questions and bless the homeschool community. If a student has a question, they can call or email Apologia, and someone, usually Jay Wile himself, is ready to give of himself and his time. Apologia’s commitment to your child is nothing short of amazing.

One of the most exciting things is that students using the basic Apologia high school courses are almost fully prepared to CLEP out of the equivalent freshman college course.  I’ve heard many reports of students getting college credit after they completed an Apologia basic high school course. In fact, as I read through the Biology and Natural Sciences CLEP exam study guides, I could see how this would easily happen. It was obvious that one could easily pass these exams, and procure college credit if they worked through the Apologia from General Science through Chemistry, alone! 

The last thing I want to share, which I, personally, feel is the most important, is the way Apologia handles it’s Biblical mandate. Though there may be other Christian-oriented science courses out there, none handle Creation and evidence for the Bible like Apologia does. Apologia courses actually impart a Biblical Worldview to the students by making the students think through  and answer tough questions about the truths of Creation and the Bible. They are required to work with the facts and think through it for themselves. They don’t just fill them up with facts and information. This does not work to impart a Biblical Worldview. This has been done for years, and is one of the reasons only 16% of born again Christians retain their faith in college. Apologia actually teaches the students to think through this information and come to know and believe it personally. When I’ve read through the specific material in Dr. Wile’s books related to evidence for our faith in the Bible and God, I’ve been so excited, blessed and encouraged – even though I already have total faith in my beliefs. I don’t want any of my children to miss a single one of Jay Wile’s books, even if they think they know all the science contained therein. Apologia’s courses are full of golden nuggets that will bolster your child’s faith. Also, because Jay Wile is a real scientist, he is very careful to only include scientific data that is solid and accepted in the scientific community.

Jay Wile and the Apologia staff have a passion for building up the homeschool community and preparing them to be leaders in the world. I know them personally to be truly devoted to you, the homeschool parent, and your kids. Jay Wile believes the answer to our country’s future lies in the students of the homeschool movement, and he is dedicated to providing them with the tools they need to become the people who will turn this nations future around. He has a personal desire to see your child succeed. I wish you could see his heart. I truly believe that God has placed a special calling on this man and his company to produce these amazing courses. It breaks my heart to hear other Christians spread untruths about the scholarly value and integrity of these books. These books are simply the best courses for homeschoolers because they were written to and for homeschoolers to use independent of a teacher – at the kitchen table – without compromising any scholarship. They strengthen families, not only in their faith, but also in their potential for academic success in college. They are easy to use and have contributed to the enormous success of homeschoolers in college and beyond. There is no need to worry and fret over whether your child should use Apologia High School Science; take your peace and know you are making a wise investment in your child’s future with these courses – there is years of proof to back up this claim; and, to be honest, the other courses being suggested don’t have an enormous number of testimonies associated with them, as Apologia does.

I hope that takes a load off!  God bless you all as you seek to fulfill God’s call to homeschool your precious children!


Anonymous said...


I am so glad to see you address this, as it keeps coming up on a (respected) classical board I read. While I realize that Dr. Jay's teaching style may not fit every kid, it angers me to see others classify his courses as "less rigorous". My oldest son has a passion for science, and I absolutely give Dr. Wile credit. We could be one of the families you describe meeting at a convention booth--just can't say enough good things. My son will be majoring in engineering, and hopes to attend either the Naval or Air Force Academy. I have *zero* concerns about his preparedness for this extremely challenging academic environment. And, best of all, he is completely self-taught. We owe Dr. Wile a huge debt of gratitude that will only continue to grow over the years. Thanks for your comments!

Debra said...

Hi Jeannie,

I just needed to say thanks! I have read so much of the negative stuff recently, and was second-guessing myself. But last week, after reading through what the Apologia-nay-sayers said, and looking at their recommendations, and then re-reading the info on the Apologia site, and re-reading the stuff about Apologia in the Sonlight catalog, and reading reviews... well, I determined that I really like Apologia and that is where we are going.

But there was still that little doubt back there.

I looked the materials over at convention last weekend (and my son looked them over - and he started immediately making plans about how he could work a little harder so that he can do Marine Biology & Advanced Biology, instead of having to choose one or the other) and was sure I felt peace about our plans.

But reading through your blog entry... well, there was still doubt. And you reminded me of a few things that I already knew. Like Dr. Wile's background. And a discussion I've been having with a friend dovetails perfectly with this... The programs I want to be using are the ones that are produced by a qualified person with a vision for teaching his subject (her subject, in your case!) For the most part, I don't want programs produced by committee for mass consumption.

It's funny, because I just purchased Videotext Algebra, based in no small part on Jay Wile's recommendations. So it was hitting me as I read this that I feel peace about a math decision at least partly because of what some science curriculum author says, but yet I'm still harboring doubts about what that person says about science. How idiotic is that?

It is nice to be back to feeling confident and at peace about our science plans. This time I know that I am comfortable with them.

Thanks Jeannie!

Anonymous said...

What a gracious response Jeannie! Such attacks should no come as no great surprise though. Especially when there are well-known classical leaders advocating that curriculum should be "neutral" and that the task of teaching truth belongs to the parents. Naturally, using that criteria, any curriculum that boldly proclaims Biblical presuppositions, such as Apologia, is bound to come under fire.

This neutrality stance is dangerous because first, there is no such thing as neutrality -- everything is religious by nature. The question is whether is is for or against Christ. Secondly, it perpetuates Greco-Roman idea of dualism that divorces spiritual from secular rather than the Hebraic view that sees everything in life as a related whole.

I applaud Jay Wile for his bold stance on Creation Science. If anyone is offended by the theological views or the lack of "neutrality", they don't have to purchase it. But to make unfounded claims without evidence is just bad science!

BTW, we have loved Apologia. My daughter has read the Elementary series like they were novels, and we are anxious to begin General Science this fail! I am thrilled that Apologia's biblical worldview helps me do my job in imparting truth.

Alyssa said...

Hi Jeannnie,

I don't quite have high school age students here, but this is good to know. Thank you!

Thank you also for the great science curriculum! We've actually used your books since the Astronomy course was a paperback, spiral bound book. :)

My just-turned-six year old loved the unit on bats and now loves to use the word "echolocation." It's great for impressing the grandparents. ;)Your books have been fascinating!

Just wanted to thank you for them!

Love, Alyssa

Michielle said...

how sad that instead of researching the curriculum themselves they feel the need to disparage it. Not every curriculum will work for every child/family but that doesn't give us the right to infer that it is inferior. I'm hoping that it will work for us as right now my son is a history buff and dislikes science :)

mom24b said...

Jeannie, I am also very glad to see you address this. My children are young yet, and this next year I'm beginning your Science series with them. My plans are to go on and use Dr. Jay Wile's when they are older.

Jeannie, I really enjoy your blog! :-)

mom24b said...

Oh, Jeannie, I forgot add this before I sent the last comment:

You have been given a Thinking Blog Award! See details here:

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I've read comments that Apologia contains errors or isn't enough. I especially apprecitated it when you said..."homeschoolers have enough to worry about"...isn't that the truth!!! What I know is kids use Apologia science and they get it and they like it! I must tell you that although my middle child has completed all the elementary titles and I have been forbidden to sell the titles we've finished. She has said that she wants to be a science teacher one day. She is so excited to begin General Science this year. One night my son was outside in the evening when he came running in and grabbed the Astronomy book off the shelf and ran back outside to gaze at the night sky.

So let them believe their lies, I for one know the truth and share it with anyone who asks about science curriculums. I tell them Apologia is the only way to go!


Shonda said...

I thank you for this review. Honestly, I have been combing over your website searching for a science curriculum for my 5th grader. At the time I didn't think that I would need a science program for my high school son as I planned on him taking dual credit at the junior college. Those plans did not work out, therefore, I need a chemistry course. I am so disappointed in the curriculum I've used over the past few years with him. It has been a struggle for him and us. I read this post about the Apologia science and I went to check it out. After reviewing the Module 1 online, I was sold on it. The reason is that in the first module Dr. Wile takes time to explain the metric system. In the other curriculum we used, it did not explain the metric system. I had to research the metric system on the internet and teach it too him. It appears that Dr. Wile doesnt take it for granted that students will know it. Also audio CD's are available. My son is an auditory learner and I hope this helps him.

Since I ordered the high school chemistry, I decided I will try the elementary book with my youngest. I showed it to him online and he choose Zoology I. Everyday he looks at insects and wants to know what they are. He was so excited to find a walking stick at the baseball park the other night. Yesterday we spent some time looking at the difference between the walking stick and the praying mantis online.

I look forward to using the Apologia science, both elementary and high school.

Thank you Jeannie.
God Bless you,

Anonymous said...

I guess you wrote this over a year ago---but boy did I NEED to read this today! We are using Apologia too for high school---and today while looking at a respected Classical curriculum provider's chat board, the Rep from the school went on on just how "non-rigorous" Apologia is and does not measure up to their choice of Prentice Hall Biology, Chem and Physics. Additionally, they stated like a pp here said that they want their science "neutral" and it is the parent's job to include the Catholic perspective! I found this twist interesting----my guess is that this school has a problem with Apologia---not based on academics, but based on theology! When I read the statement "and besides, it is from a Protestant publisher and author".........well, I guess the TRUE reason they won't use it for any sort of Summa Cum Laude or Magna Cum Laude diploma was revealed. We are Catholic, and frankly I have found nothing offensive in these science books so far. The biology is VERY challenging and in depth! The General Science is amazingly thorough----and neither of these books talks down or uses ridiculously dry language to explain concepts.

Again, I am SO glad I found this post-----I spent practically the whole last summer trying to decided on ONE science program for both kids that will prepare them for college without driving us all nuts with complexity and cost of labs----Apologia is it! And this "non-rigorous" misinformation is STILL being proliferated on the "snooty" Classical chat sites----Jeannie--you should post this rebuttal at least once a month!


Lois Tebo said...

My 15 year old son was studying for CLEP - just reviewing his Apologia Biology text and looking up a couple definitions he wasn't sure of off the CLEP download sample question sheet. After reading some of the sites you mention, we were discouraged and afraid, and nearly decided against taking the test, not certain he could pass it. Then we found your blog and were encouraged to go ahead, "just to see" how he might do. But our expectations were controlled. He just came out of the test with a score of 56! We are so excited. The proctor was so excited for him, and encouraged him to come back for more tests, and said they have a lot of homeschoolers come through! Thank you so much for your encouragment that gave us the boost of confidence we needed.

Lois Tebo said...

My 15 year old son was studying for CLEP - just reviewing his Apologia Biology text and looking up a couple definitions he wasn't sure of off the CLEP download sample question sheet. After reading some of the sites you mention, we were discouraged and afraid, and nearly decided against taking the test, not certain he could pass it. Then we found your blog and were encouraged to go ahead, "just to see" how he might do. But our expectations were controlled. He just came out of the test with a score of 56! We are so excited. The proctor was so excited for him, and encouraged him to come back for more tests, and said they have a lot of homeschoolers come through! Thank you so much for your encouragment that gave us the boost of confidence we needed.

Jeannie Fulbright said...

Thanks for updating us on your son's CLEP experience! That's so awesome, Lois!