Friday, March 09, 2012

Perfect on the outside

I admit, I do love looking at some of the sites female Christian bloggers create. They all look so perfect, and so very pretty. But then something happens and I realize that it's all a show. As one of my favorite TV personalities, Mike Holmes, would probably put it it's all lipstick and mascara, you have to take down the pretty stuff and see the structure to see if it's really good.

Case in point, one particular family. I wasn't going to link to them because I don't want to shame the children, but the children should not be ashamed. The parents should be ashamed of the so-called education they are providing them And the children who are over 18 ought to know that they are falling seriously behind so they have a chance to catch up. I hope they do, they seem like truly nice girls and quite bright and capable.

This family has a stair step row of daughters, all perfectly feminine in calico jumpers and pettiblouses that look utterly adorable and ladylike and lovely. They craft, they bake, they keep a farm with sheep and goats and a farmhouse full of antiques, and it all just looks so utterly wonderful. At first glance it looks like the kind of life I've always wanted.

Today one of the girls posted this:
The arteries bring blood from your heart, it then goes through tiny, thin walled blood vessels (called capillaries), where your blood gets good nutrients and oxygen, gets rid of the bad things in your blood, and then it brings the good stuff back to your heart through your veins.

Another thing, our bones are strong as steel, yet flexible! That’s because of two things called collagen and minerals. Working together, the collagen makes your bone flexible and the minerals makes it strong. It’s so neat to read how God made us!
The problem? This girl is eighteen. Eighteen. She's doing the academic work of a ten year old. Seriously, we covered this in the fifth grade. From the California Science standards:

Life Sciences

2.Plants and animals have structures for respiration, digestion, waste disposal, and
transport of materials. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a.Students know many multicellular organisms have specialized structures to sup­
port the transport of materials.

b.Students know how blood circulates through the heart chambers, lungs, and body
and how carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) are exchanged in the lungs and

c.Students know the sequential steps of digestion and the roles of teeth and the
mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon in the
function of the digestive system.

d.Students know the role of the kidney in removing cellular waste from blood and
converting it into urine, which is stored in the bladder.

e.Students know how sugar, water, and minerals are transported in a vascular plant.

f.Students know plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy from sunlight to build
molecules of sugar and release oxygen.

g.Students know plant and animal cells break down sugar to obtain energy, a pro­
cess resulting in carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (respiration).

Fifth grade. That's ages 10-11

I believe bones are covered before this, but the first mention I found was in seventh grade, aka 12-13.
Structure and Function in Living Systems

5.The anatomy and physiology of plants and animals illustrate the complementary
nature of structure and function. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a.Students know plants and animals have levels of organization for structure and
function, including cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and the whole organism.

b.Students know organ systems function because of the contributions of individual
organs, tissues, and cells. The failure of any part can affect the entire system.

c.Students know how bones and muscles work together to provide a structural
framework for movement.

d.Students know how the reproductive organs of the human female and male gener­
ate eggs and sperm and how sexual activity may lead to fertilization and preg­

e.Students know the function of the umbilicus and placenta during pregnancy.

f.Students know the structures and processes by which flowering plants generate
pollen, ovules, seeds, and fruit.

g.Students know how to relate the structures of the eye and ear to their functions.

What are 18 year olds expected to know by the time they get out of high school?
Biology/Life Sciences

Cell Biology

1. The fundamental life processes of plants and animals depend on a variety of chemical reactions that occur in specialized areas of the organism’s cells. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know cells are enclosed within semipermeable membranes that regulate
their interaction with their surroundings.

b. Students know enzymes are proteins that catalyze biochemical reactions without
altering the reaction equilibrium and the activities of enzymes depend on the
temperature, ionic conditions, and the pH of the surroundings.

c. Students know how prokaryotic cells, eukaryotic cells (including those from
plants and animals), and viruses differ in complexity and general structure.

d. Students know the central dogma of molecular biology outlines the flow of infor­
mation from transcription of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the nucleus to translation
of proteins on ribosomes in the cytoplasm.

e. Students know the role of the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus in the
secretion of proteins.

f. Students know usable energy is captured from sunlight by chloroplasts and is
stored through the synthesis of sugar from carbon dioxide.

g. Students know the role of the mitochondria in making stored chemical-bond
energy available to cells by completing the breakdown of glucose to carbon

h. Students know most macromolecules (polysaccharides, nucleic acids, proteins,
lipids) in cells and organisms are synthesized from a small collection of simple

i. Students know how chemiosmotic gradients in the mitochondria and chloroplast
store energy for ATP production.

j Students know how eukaryotic cells are given shape and internal organization by
a cytoskeleton or cell wall or both.


2. Mutation and sexual reproduction lead to genetic variation in a population. As a
basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know meiosis is an early step in sexual reproduction in which the pairs
of chromosomes separate and segregate randomly during cell division to pro­
duce gametes containing one chromosome of each type.

b. Students know only certain cells in a multicellular organism undergo meiosis.

c. Students know how random chromosome segregation explains the probability
that a particular allele will be in a gamete.

d. Students know new combinations of alleles may be generated in a zygote through
the fusion of male and female gametes (fertilization).

e. Students know why approximately half of an individual’s DNA sequence comes
from each parent.

f. Students know the role of chromosomes in determining an individual’s sex.

g. Students know how to predict possible combinations of alleles in a zygote from
the genetic makeup of the parents.

3. A multicellular organism develops from a single zygote, and its phenotype depends
on its genotype, which is established at fertilization. As a basis for understanding
this concept:

a. Students know how to predict the probable outcome of phenotypes in a genetic
cross from the genotypes of the parents and mode of inheritance (autosomal or
X-linked, dominant or recessive).

b. Students know the genetic basis for Mendel’s laws of segregation and indepen­
dent assortment.

c. Students know how to predict the probable mode of inheritance from a pedigree
diagram showing phenotypes.

d. Students know how to use data on frequency of recombination at meiosis to esti­mate genetic distances between loci and to interpret genetic maps of chromo­

4. Genes are a set of instructions encoded in the DNA sequence of each organism that
specify the sequence of amino acids in proteins characteristic of that organism. As a
basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know the general pathway by which ribosomes synthesize proteins,
using tRNAs to translate genetic information in mRNA.

b. Students know how to apply the genetic coding rules to predict the sequence of
amino acids from a sequence of codons in RNA.

c. Students know how mutations in the DNA sequence of a gene may or may not
affect the expression of the gene or the sequence of amino acids in an encoded

d. Students know specialization of cells in multicellular organisms is usually due to
different patterns of gene expression rather than to differences of the genes

e. Students know proteins can differ from one another in the number and sequence
of amino acids.

f. Students know why proteins having different amino acid sequences typically have
different shapes and chemical properties.

5. The genetic composition of cells can be altered by incorporation of exogenous DNA
into the cells. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know the general structures and functions of DNA, RNA, and protein.

b. Students know how to apply base-pairing rules to explain precise copying of DNA
during semiconservative replication and transcription of information from DNA
into mRNA.

c. Students know how genetic engineering (biotechnology) is used to produce novel
biomedical and agricultural products.

d. Students know how basic DNA technology (restriction digestion by endonu­
cleases, gel electrophoresis, ligation, and transformation) is used to construct
recombinant DNA molecules.

e. Students know how exogenous DNA can be inserted into bacterial cells to alter
their genetic makeup and support expression of new protein products.


9. As a result of the coordinated structures and functions of organ systems, the internal
environment of the human body remains relatively stable (homeostatic) despite
changes in the outside environment. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know how the complementary activity of major body systems provides
cells with oxygen and nutrients and removes toxic waste products such as carbon

b. Students know how the nervous system mediates communication between differ­
ent parts of the body and the body’s interactions with the environment.

c. Students know how feedback loops in the nervous and endocrine systems regulate
conditions in the body.

d. Students know the functions of the nervous system and the role of neurons in
transmitting electrochemical impulses.

e. Students know the roles of sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons in
sensation, thought, and response.

f. Students know the individual functions and sites of secretion of digestive enzymes
(amylases, proteases, nucleases, lipases), stomach acid, and bile salts.

g. Students know the homeostatic role of the kidneys in the removal of nitrogenous
wastes and the role of the liver in blood detoxification and glucose balance.

h. Students know the cellular and molecular basis of muscle contraction, including
the roles of actin, myosin, Ca+2, and ATP.

i. Students know how hormones (including digestive, reproductive, osmoregula­
tory) provide internal feedback mechanisms for homeostasis at the cellular level
and in whole organisms.

10. Organisms have a variety of mechanisms to combat disease. As a basis for under-
standing the human immune response:

a. Students know the role of the skin in providing nonspecific defenses against

b. Students know the role of antibodies in the body’s response to infection.

c. Students know how vaccination protects an individual from infectious diseases.

d. Students know there are important differences between bacteria and viruses with
respect to their requirements for growth and replication, the body’s primary
defenses against bacterial and viral infections, and effective treatments of these

e. Students know why an individual with a compromised immune system (for
example, a person with AIDS) may be unable to fight off and survive infections
by microorganisms that are usually benign.

f. Students know the roles of phagocytes, B-lymphocytes, and T-lymphocytes in the
immune system.

And that is just anatomy and physiology. There's also chemistry, physics, geology, the list just goes on and on.

Of course they will come back with "Yes, but we are learning practical skills like cooking and cleaning and crafts and farm work." Well, I remember covering all of the above in my freshman year of high school. At the same time I cleaned house for my working Mother, cooked for myself and 3 adults most days, and learned to crochet lace and do fine embroidery from my step-Aunt who was (Maybe is, I haven't spoken with her in years) one of the Sisters who maintains the vestments at the Vatican. And while I was not a musician a number of my friends played in the school orchestra and they played Beethoven, Mendelssohn and and Hayden and we put on 2-3 classic Broadway shows a year, all while meeting or exceeding the CA state standards in everything. (I admittedly attended private school. Most of our senior level classes were AP classes.) The one thing none of us had to do was raise little brothers or sisters. Even if we had them our Mothers did that work.

I don't blame the children, of course. I blame the parents who have chosen to keep their children behind in life by not providing them with even a basic public school education. I just don't understand why and I suppose I never will.

Pretty dresses. Nice house. Sweet blog. No structure.

Edited to add: I want to make it clear, I'm not criticizing the young woman who wrote the original post. The young women in that family seem quite intelligent and competent and quite capable of matching or even exceeding their peers in intellectual ability. I'm questioning why an 18 year old is encountering 5th grade level material for the first time, why is she so far behind. Since she does seem perfectly capable I can only assume it's because she has not encountered the material before. Since she's been homeschooled that would lead me to believe that her parents have not made the material available to her. From where I stand there can be three reasons for that.

1) Ignorance. Either her parents are incapable themselves or they are not aware of state standards and what is expected of her public or private school peers. Now I know they aren't in California, I used that as an example because I'm familiar with those standards, but other states aren't that far off. Either they were told that the states have no standards or they assumed that homeschooling was always the better option and so they didn't bother to compare their curriculum to the state standards or they were told that the curriculum they were using met the standards and they trusted their vendor and didn't check or....well, I'm not certain what else it could be. But as her parents it was their responsibility to check this.

2) Ideology. In this world not of it, right? So who cares what the standards are, we should focus on the bible. And why would a woman need to know those things, all she's going to be is a wife and mother. Too much education can lead to discontentment. Again, that would be the decision of the parents.

3) Overwork. Not that chores or helping around the house is bad but too much time spent working around the farm and caring for little brothers and sisters while Mom put more arrows in the quiver can leave not enough time left for her studies. Again, this comes back to the parents having more children then they themselves can care for without overburdening their older children. (And for those who chose not to use birth control, abstinence works for married couples too.)

Regardless of the reason it's up to the parents of homeschooled children to see that they keep up with their peers academically. If an 18 year old is doing 5th grade work clearly they haven't. And I feel sorry for such a bright, capable young lady in that position. I only hope she takes control of her own education now that she's an adult and works her way up to the standard. I wish her well in that.

And my original point stands, it's a very pretty blog, but if you aren't educating your children then it's just window dressing, not something to aspire to.

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