By Kathy Jo DeVore
One of the ladies in my Yahoo group recently let me know about Novare Science and Math, and I’m very pleased to have review copies of these books so I can tell y’all about them. These are what Charlotte Mason would have called “living textbooks,” books written by a single author who is passionate about his subject. I have two high school texts, General Chemistry and Introductory Physics, and a teacher’s resource book, Science for Every Teacher Volume 1: Physics, all of which are written by John Mays.
The Introductory Physics book is suitable for high school students at any grade. Novare is also publishing an AP physics book for seniors which should be out this fall. They have two separate chemistry books, General Chemistry and Chemistry for Accelerated Students. For experiments, they publish Favorite Experiments in Physics and Physical Science, Chemistry Experiments for High School, and Chemistry Experiments for High School at Home. In addition, Novare also has two books suitable for 6th-8th grade, Physical Science and Earth Science, and a variety of resource CDs.
Science for Every Teacher Volume 1: Physics, is for the teacher of elementary and middle school students. In the same clear writing style present in the high school texts, he presents information to give teachers a deeper understanding of physics. This is a valuable resource both for pursuing self-education as well as preparing us to help our children understand their science reading. We can better teach what we understand ourselves.
Novare science books are available in both Christian and secular editions. As a curriculum writer, I love having books that work for all faiths, and as a Christian, I love having books from a Christian perspective to use in our own home. Mays does not merely throw in a few Bible verses. Instead, he uses the subject itself to show the glory of our Creator. In General Chemistry, Mays writes, “This striking situation is a direct result of the fact that nature is governed by an orderly, mathematical set of physical laws–the laws set in place by God according to his wisdom when he created the universe.” When necessary, he discusses topics from a Christian perspective, helping the student reconcile his faith with scientific knowledge, an important aspect in the education of Christian children in our modern world. In Introductory Physics, at the beginning of a section called “Truth and Facts,” Mays writes, “Christians believe in truths that have been revealed to us, that are absolute and unchanging. Scientific facts, by their very nature, are not like this. So our definitions for truth and for scientific facts are going to take this into account.”
There aren’t a lot of faith references in the books, which is fine with me; I don’t need theology added to our science books. But these are books I can hand to my children without worrying about atheistic content. We can focus on science instead of discussing other worldviews which reared their heads in the text. It should be noted here that “Christian” in this case does not mean “Young Earth Creationist.” Although these books only reference this subject a couple of times, Novare as a company accepts mainstream scientific opinion that the earth is old.
These books are shorter than many textbooks published today. Long textbooks contain far more information than can be mastered in a school year. As homeschoolers, when we try to use long textbooks, we are at even more of a disadvantage than the average school teacher; which chapters can be skipped while still covering the subject adequately? But these textbooks are much shorter in length, so the entire book can be covered in a school year. Despite their shorter length, Mays still includes a bit of the history of science in these books, making these books more rounded than their committee-written counterparts. The shorter length also means that additional books can be added for enrichment without overwhelming the student. In other words, these books could be used as straight textbooks for those who prefer that approach, but they could also be used as spines. And this is my preferred way of teaching high school science, with a spine to make sure the student understands the basics of the subject and other books to truly make the subject come alive.
These books fill a serious gap for homeschoolers for high school science. They are God honoring. They are written with high school students in mind. The concepts are clearly explained, but the language is not dumbed-down. And they offer the safety net of having a textbook as a spine while still allowing time for enrichment reading. For these reasons, I’m happy to be including each of these books as an option for a high school science spine in the Wayfarers books.