Part 2 of my A Beka analysis
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Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 08:33:41 AM EST
Okay, we've apparently found the limit of post length on Talk2Action :3

Anyways, here's the rest of it (yes, there's more), this focusing on the English and language courses in A Beka's curriculum.

As noted, this was originally a two-part essay; as the essay itself is over 72KB in length, I'm having to split it.

Continuing from the last post here, I'd mentioned Robert Bakker (who is not only a world-famous paleontologist, but also a pentecostal minister who has noted how, when challenged by the conflict between the Genesis creation story and what he knew from paleontology, turned to Augustine's writings):

An example of one of Bakker's writings on this--which was part of a debate with a young-earth creationist--is here.

And now the last bit, English courses:

English
How forcible are right words! --Job 6:25

Because God has given us the great commission of communicating His truth to mankind, we must give our students the finest tools available to carry out this goal in a reasonable, well-articulated manner.

God gave us our powers of thought and language and chose to reveal His will and His ways to us in a written form, the Bible; thus we need to pay particular attention to the teaching of grammar, spelling, vocabulary, composition, and literature as we seek to educate students from a Christian perspective.

Since Darwin, linguists have sought in vain for a credible explanation for the origin of language. Having accepted evolutionary philosophy, they can only think that language must be simply a response to a stimulus, an emotional outcry, an imitation of animals.

If such foolishness were true, then any talk of language being governed by rules or any claims that some expressions are better than others would be inappropriate, and relativism would rule. This explains many English programs today. But as Christians, we still believe that the Bible provides the only credible explanation for the universe, of man, and of language. Therefore, it is easy to see in language a structure which reflects the logic, reasonableness, and orderliness of the One who created man and his language.

On this basis, we believe that there are standards for man to adhere to in language as in all of life. This is why our A Beka Book grammar books emphasize structure, rules, analysis, and the kind of practice that aims at mastery. This is why we place an importance on correct spelling and the continual enlargement of each student's vocabulary. This is why we aspire to provide students with examples of the very best literature of the ages, and this is why we emphasize the continual improvement of writing abilities.

And again, the curriculum falls on its face from a scientific viewpoint:

a) Linguistics studies (trying to find the primeval language) have been going on for far, far longer than Darwin (try the earliest records being as of 500 BC among East Indian cultures, and at a similar time period for the Greek).  The first European person to study linguistic evolution in the modern fashion was Sir William Jones who proposed Sanskrit and Persian's relation to other languages in Europe (and was the initial foundation for research into what we now term Indo-European languages, see below).

In fact, a LOT of people were working on this in the late 1700's/early 1800's--ironically, in an attempt to recapture the "Adamic Language", the primeval language that was spoken in the Garden of Eden.  (Yes, even Christians were doing this--again, this points to the levels of historical revisionism of all sorts rampant in the dominionist community.)

Von Humboldt also discovered, shortly after, that languages are rule-based (one of the things that has actually helped us study the relationship between languages).

b) Contrary to dominionist claims, we've actually gotten pretty damn far at deciphering the roots of language families (much better so with Indo-European and Ural-Altaic and Semitic, getting better with the four or five Native American language families and the four or five major African families, they and many of the Australian Aboriginal and Pacific Islands languages are more difficult because there's not a good list of vocabularies to compare in several cases).

In fact, we've gone past reconstructing the probable original Indo-European language and are now working on Proto-Indo-European (which may finally link Indo-European as being a sister group of the Ural-Altaic languages; the latter include languages such as Finnish, Turkish, Mongolian, and possibly Japanese and Korean (the latter two with heavy Chinese influence/loanwords)); Proto-Semitic is also felt to be pretty solid as a reconstructed "ur-language", and some (admittedly controversial) proposals even have the ur-language as Nostratic (which would include almost all known language groups aside from a few isolated groups).

c) Studies of language--just like studies of evolution in other things--show that languages over time do change, pick up words (and even on occasion largely cross-pollinate) from other languages, etc.

The evolution of English as well as the evolution of the various Romance languages is well documented (English is a particularly interesting case, as Old English and even early Middle English are very similar to Old Dutch and other Germanic tongues, but by late Middle English actually had started gaining characteristics of being a mix between early Middle English and Old French--to the point philologists have had serious discussions on whether Middle English should be considered a patois like Kreyol in Haiti!; Flemish in Belgium is somewhat similarly (though to lesser degree) influenced by French, and in turn Wallon is influenced by Dutch (to the point Dutch-based Wallon orthographies exist!)...so yes, there is admixture).

Another few languages where evolution is quite well documented: Greek (between Homeric Greek, Koine Greek (as used in the Bible), Byzantine Greek, and Modern Greek); the Semitic languages (including Hebrew; much of the more interesting things re Biblical research going on is how several of the terms for God in the original Hebrew do seem to be derived from Babylonian (which is a very closely related language, and whose Phonecian alphabet is the immediate predecessor of both the Greek and Roman alphabets); much of the research on the evolution of the Semitic language families, in fact, is from Biblical-history research and archaeological study of the coexisting cultures of the time.

As I've noted before, actual study of Biblical history taking into account cultural references of the times tends to be frowned upon--the main interest in Biblical research among dominionists seems to be in proving places in the Bible existed and that "Biblical miracles really occured".  There is far less interest, for instance, in research showing that Judaism may be a monotheistic religion based on rejection of plural gods in Babylonian practice, that the "golden calf" mentioned in the Bible was actually a representation of Baal-Hadad (the Lord of Hadad, a major deity of Babylonian belief)--thus missing HOW SIGNIFIGANT the fact people were worshipping the calf was, but a reference people of the time or in the area would have understood straightaway.  Much the same for Christ's own story about the Good Samaritan (Samaritans were, and still are, a very early side-branch of Judaism that was considered extremely heretical because they rejected the authority of kings and priests; they follow the Pentateuch but no other books in the Torah, and are the only remaining group in Judaism that practices the annual sacrifices as depicted in Leviticus et al; this would have been quite obvious in his day, and would be equivalent in modern days to dominionists passing a mugged guy in the street but someone from a "gay church" helping the guy to the hospital).

It is fairly obvious from the description that they are, just as they do with everything else, believing that ALL languages originated from the incident at the Tower of Babel and have not changed since.  (A mere look at the King James Bible would be enough to disprove this, one would think)

It's also fairly apparent that their tactic in English education consists of rote memorisation and "phonics".  Unfortunately, different kids learn in different ways, and it's entirely possible kids with learning disabilities (or even different styles of learning that some other method--say, hands-on work, or whole-word reading) may fall behind.  (Then again, as noted previously, it seems A-Beka officially thinks that folks with learning disabilities are just in it for the money.)

Again, it's not exactly rocket science why the University of California finds this unacceptable--especially considering that they operate a linguistics school.




Display:
These sorts of resources can be permantly housed on the site.

These two diaries amount to a resource which would be helpful to various groups engaged in local fights - at the state, school board level, or other levels.

The section likely will be called "Taking Action" and the subsection, that this sort of information would seem to fit in, would be "Resources" or "Useful Information" - something along those lines.

The imperative is to get such information out to the people who need it.

by TTA Site Administration on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 09:51:04 AM EST

One of the things I was hoping for, actually, was for these essays and similar writings by other folks to be housed in a sort of research library here--one of the really good things about this site is that we do have lots of people here who can share resources and info.

by dogemperor on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 10:14:43 AM EST
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