Topic | Nearly at the end of my rope with Apologia Biology…

Viewing 13 posts - 46 through 58 (of 58 total)
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  • Melissa Wolfe
    Participant

    Hi all, I just read this series of posts for the first time.

    I am a little concerned that a high school student who is struggling to get through a text like Apologia by herself with, perhaps, some tutoring, would just be assumed to not be a rigorous learner.

    My children are not high school age yet, but when my husband’s little sister was homeschooled in high school with Apologia biology (and was struggling with it), I looked through the text.  Now, I am passionate about science. Though I graduated as a communications major in college, I took 40 credit hours of sciences, including chemistry, zoology, botony, environmental science, astronomy, oceanography, physiology, cell biology, immunology, bacteriology, and embryology (which led to a research position in a lab at a medical research hospital and the attendance of an international conference)…I love reading through science texts (before starting my cell biology course, I sat in front of the fire and paged through my text, because I was excited about it!).  I love learning about science because of what it tells me about my creator God.  And I love sharing that with others.

    As much as I love science (and even science texts), Apologia’s textbook left me totally uninspired.  And while I’m a huge advocate of self-directed learning, I do not believe you can (or should) simply plunk a science text in front of your child and expect them to learn and retain and grow and appreciate.  Even rigorous college courses include lecture (and hands-on lab work), and lecture does not automatically equal being spoon-fed.  A good professor (and teacher at any level) can both challenge and inspire.  All of my science courses in college (thankfully!) were taught by professors who loved what they taught, and had lots of experiences and stories to share, which made the subject come alive.  Many of them (who were respected and published researchers) also were candid about what they (and science) does not yet know or fully understand — which was also extremely valuable!  But more to the point in this discussion, they introduced, illustrated, answered questions and/or explained concepts which were difficult to understand from the text alone. I do not believe that is being spoon-fed. I certainly was plenty challenged in all my study skills! These were rigorous courses which required a lot of individual study and application of what I was learning to particular problems; but I greatly benefited from having access to professors and hands-on lab work. As interested as I was in my cell biology text, I would have gained a fraction of the knowledge and retention had I studied from it alone.  If this is true at a college level — where students learn in community, even as they must digest the information individually — how much more true must this be of a younger learner grappling with concepts which are new or difficult to them?

    Many of us are auditory or visual learners, and simply plodding through a dense tome will not lead to mastery of knowledge, let alone a love of it.  Should students be trained to be able to handle difficult texts and think critically? Certainly! In any subject, not just science! But that is one aspect of learning. I think it is unreasonable to put a textbook in front of a student — without any appreciable involvement of a teacher or mentor, or peers who are also engaging with the material, or hands-on work — and expect them to thrive.  And if college prep is what we’re concerned about, most college courses are not even set up this way — where the course consists of receiving a text, then just showing up for exams, without any lecture or lab work. The only class I ever took in which the professor didn’t teach at all was a communications course!  I would also like to mention that being college-bound does not necessarily mean science-major bound, and I think just about every college has courses for students to satisfy their requirements who are not majoring in that subject.  Struggling with a particular science curriculum does not necessarily mean a student will not survive in college!

    Because creation testifies to us about who God is, I believe it’s very important for us to appreciate it! And Apologia did nothing to help my husband’s little sister to appreciate it (who, by the way, went on to college and just graduated in Psychology, hoping to perhaps get a master’s degree and become a counselor).

    My two cents worth — or twenty, considering how long this has become! 🙂

    Melissa W.

    Melissa Wolfe
    Participant

    As a little postscript :), I thought of two of the high school classes which most benefited me, engaged me, prepared me for college, and trained me to think critically — Biology and AP English. These were the classes whose teachers expected the most from me; they had very high standards.  And their classes were hard.  AP English was more rigorous than any college English course I took, or Philosophy for that matter.

    While we did a lot of reading in those classes, in neither one did my teachers simply pass out the books and tell us: Memorize these terms! Take these exams! …and leave the room.  They both took a rather Socratic approach to instructing: questioning us, dialoguing with us, guiding us (as opposed to “lecturing”) and giving us tools with which to make sense of what we were reading, to critically evaluate it, and to prompt deeper questions as to how this relates to life and meaning.  I’m pretty confident neither teacher would consider the aforementioned textbook approach to equate to true scholarship.

    How this can play out in a homeschooling family is fodder for a different discussion. My concern here is with using a textbook exclusively for a course and then coming to the conclusion a student just needs to buck up and be a more rigorous learner if they are struggling with that approach.  I would argue that it is unfair to the student to make that conclusion, and further that a read-the-textbook, take-the-tests approach is a grievously incomplete education, in high school or at any other point in one’s journey.

    Melissa W.

     

    Bookworm
    Participant

    Read through all posts again.  Do not see where anyone recommended leaving the student alone with the text and never helping.  Found a number of sentences indicating otherwise, in fact.  Need them listed?

    Also took college sciences, and so have my graduated kids.  Apologia easily the most readable text we have encountered so far.  And although I have seen/taken/helped students through many non-major-directed science courses, I’ve never seen one EASIER than an Apologia text.  There is no introductory course for “I’ve never done ANY science and am afraid of texts and vocabulary.  Please hold my hand, don’t make me work at all and don’t hurt my feelings.”

    Alicia Hart
    Participant

    This is as stimulating of a discussion as it was back when it was originally posted.  Wonderful posts from all!

    Bookworm –

    Would it be feasible to wait and start textbook science until 8th grade?  We had planned on doing AO’s science for this year, year 7 and then possibly Apologia’s General Science in year 8.  OR would it be a problem to wait and take your first lab science course a community college?  My older kids don’t really know yet what they want to do after high and not sure if they are going the college route.  Thanks!

    Bookworm
    Participant

    Should be fine.  Your kids may find Physical Science more interesting, however.  Gen Science is widely regarded as the dullest of the upper level Apologia courses.  If you only had time for 1, I think that would also work.

    I’d try and do at least 1 course at home, if possible.  Community college professors (many are not even professors) are often overworked and poorly paid.  Many are awesome teachers, but some do not have the time to handhold kids who don’t even know how to use a real microscope.  And college level course of ANY kind move twice as fast as high school courses.  That pace can be a shock to a homeschooled kid.  I’d do an attempt at a home course first, or use an online high school course or a co-op before I’d cheerfully toss a science newbie into a college class.

    my3boys
    Participant

    My oldest ds began General (Apologia) halfway through 7th grade and finished up in 8th grade. Don’t ask me why we took so long to get through it, but he must have needed the time. We did add in living books and he’s not the strongest reader so that may have been why. He did Physical in 9th grade and Biology in 10th.  For Biology he had the text, a living book or two, and a lab class that met twice a month. I was happy with what he got out of it and that the labs were covered by someone with experience.  I think he was able to get appr. 15 labs last year, which was more than I would’ve been able to offer him at home.

    This year, he’ll do Chemistry (Apologia) only because I thought there was no reason to stop with science just yet. He will use the text, two living books, The Great Courses dvd set, lab classes like before (with the same teacher as last year) and some other books I’ve picked up that were recommended on the forum.  I doubt he’ll do any science his 12th grade year, but things could change.

    My question is this:

    Because our state requires us to cover 2 science courses for General graduation, does it seem wasteful to have him do chemistry when that is not really his passion? Should he be focusing on something else this year since he has already covered the required courses? Or, should he cover it for the sake of covering it?

    I barely made it through any science classes myself and I don’t really want the same for my dc. At the same time, I don’t want to waste what time we have left for high school on courses that may not be necessary. (I don’t really see it as a waste of time, I’m simply curious as to what others think.)

    Any thoughts?

    retrofam
    Participant

    I have learned many valuable things from this string of posts. I now have children on both sides of the issue- meaning struggling learners who were not doing well with Apologia,  and now a science-minded son who is unsure about college,  but capable of college prep material.

    I am not ready to declare Apologia the only choice for all situations,  but I can see where it is a good choice for many.  My only caution is for moms of struggling learners who do not plan on college.  You are not failing your child if you wait until college for college level material.  Meaning that if the child changes their mind and attends college without Apologia,  you have not failed.  I compare it to what our orthodontist said…that a young adult patient can get better results than a teenager who is forced into it, and hasn’t matured enough yet. I have seen many times where a young adult finally gets it that lab science,  or whatever the issue IS important for their future.

    I also don’t agree that Apologia science with labs is the only way to learn observation and analytical skills.  The scientific method and lab practice with it are important and helpful,  but they are not the only path to success in life.

    Thanks for many thought provoking discussions.

    By the way,  I added Apologia science to my son’s list of materials for biology next year, so I get what is being said:)

     

    pslively
    Participant

    Just want to throw one more voice into the mix. I love Apologia and think they are probably the best choice available for high school and middle school science. We are currently using them and plan to continue using them. But, I do not think they are absolutely necessary. My oldest just graduated from university with a 4.0, double major, summa cum laude, in Russian and Linguistics. The only science courses she did for high school were Physical and Biology, both from Apologia. And she didn’t do them very well, I might add. Certainly this was not ideal, but it worked out fine for her. And she did take college biology, which she loved, and she did very well. I guess I just want to say that it’s not the end of collegiate dreams if you don’t complete three to four years of rigorous high school science. But I’m still an advocate of completing all that science. And my other kids will be doing biology, chemistry, physics, all from Apologia, if all goes according to plan

    Karen Smith
    Moderator

    My question is this:

    Because our state requires us to cover 2 science courses for General graduation, does it seem wasteful to have him do chemistry when that is not really his passion? Should he be focusing on something else this year since he has already covered the required courses? Or, should he cover it for the sake of covering it?

    I barely made it through any science classes myself and I don’t really want the same for my dc. At the same time, I don’t want to waste what time we have left for high school on courses that may not be necessary. (I don’t really see it as a waste of time, I’m simply curious as to what others think.)

    Any thoughts?

    I think that most students should complete, at the very least, a biology course and a chemistry or physics course in high school, even if the student is not going to college or is going to attend college for a degree not related to science. One of my reasons is simply because high school science (and math) helps the student to develop critical and logical thinking skills, which are useful in many areas of life.

    The other reason is because high school science (and math) require the student to be disciplined in his work. Again, a skill that is useful in many areas of life.

     

    my3boys
    Participant

    Thank you, Karen, I appreciate the feedback.

    Alicia Hart
    Participant

    Thanks Karen – answered the same question that I had as well!

    Alicia

    Alicia Hart
    Participant

    Has anyone done Adventures with a Microscope?  How helpful is this in actually really learning how to use a microscope?

    cvaessen
    Participant

    dorasaint, my daughter had the same struggles with Apologia because of its tendency to fill the pages with words that have little weight.  The text often has a rambling nature as if you are overhearing a lecture or even a conversation instead of a dense, profound text.  (In order to focus, my daughter would sing the words out loud as she read.  Funny and yet, sad.)  We are happier with Bob Jones textbooks, if I might make a suggestion.  It is more dense in information and well illustrated.  The edges of the pages are interspersed with relevant, modern discoveries that honor God and are really interesting!  We are going to do their Chemistry this year and we are so excited!

Viewing 13 posts - 46 through 58 (of 58 total)
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