Openingby Marlin Detweiler

Feature ArticleMullets and Education”by Bruce Etter

Educational Helpsby Laurie Detweiler

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February 2011




Feature Article


Mullets and Education


Just recently a student from my very first year of teaching (1992) posted a picture of me on Facebook. There were several striking features I noticed about this old photo. First, I noted that I was half the man I am now . . . literally half! Yes, I’ve put on a few pounds since those days. Second, I was aghast at the hair style. Yes, that’s right; I was sporting the classic mullet. I recalled with great embarrassment that I had succumbed to following the popular trends of the day. It may have seemed cool at that time to “go with the flow,” but for some reason no one is impressed with my 1992 hair style.


Going with the flow is, of course, quite tempting. Trends come and go all the time. We see fads not only in hair styles, but also in fashion (at least I didn’t have parachute pants on in the picture!), dieting, toys (just a couple of months ago just about every child ages 4-10 was carrying around at least 100 silly bands!), and the list goes on and on.


And in education there is no shortage of fads. As educators and homeschoolers we can often be a group of “fad-followers.” There is, of course, no shortage of new and shiny trends that draw us in. The problem with many of us is that we jump from one system to another and never land on anything for any length of time. I have observed several problems in two areas: curriculum and method of schooling.


In the last couple of decades there has been an explosion of new curricula for Christian schools and homeschooling. Think about what this marketplace was like just twenty years ago. There were only a handful of companies publishing curricula. Now, it’s like walking into Chocolate World here in nearby Hershey, Pa. So much candy, so little time! I can’t believe there are SO MANY different kinds of candy! I’m not complaining, mind you. For parents it’s a bit like that for someone just beginning to think through educational options. Where do you begin? There’s so much to choose from.


And like a child wandering around in the heaven of Chocolate World taking a bite of every piece of candy he can get his hands on, we jump from one curriculum to another without ever landing on one for the long haul. I have attended countless seminars led by the latest education guru who had just published the newest popular book on education. FINALLY, after thousands of years, someone has figured out the secret to how we should educate our children. Everyone flocks to hear him and buy his book. And the next year, there’s a new guru, a new book, a new system. I see some dangers here. I expect you do, too.


Jumping from one curriculum to another tends to leave gaps in our children’s education. Generally, a curriculum has an over-arching philosophy. The curriculum takes this particular philosophical approach throughout. The philosophy of the curriculum drives the content from kindergarten through twelfth grade. It is meant to be done from beginning to end, with the hope of achieving a particular goal at the end of the road. When we jump from one curriculum to another, we aren’t simply shifting, for example, from one math curriculum to another. We are, more often than not, moving into a new system, a different way of thinking about math, a new curriculum with a different philosophy of how children should learn math. If the two systems have opposing philosophies of how children should learn math, it is likely that shifting from one to another will leave gaps or create problems in their learning. When I shift from one math curriculum to another I have to deal with the question of where my child is in the new system as opposed to the old one. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not saying we should NEVER make any changes. But being in the habit of constantly jumping from one to another will certainly create problems, and these gaps in their learning will likely not manifest themselves until later in their education.


Folks who homeschool not only struggle with bouncing around from one curriculum to another, but they also tend to wrestle with the more general question of whether or not to put their children in school. I talk with homeschooling families all the time who take the “year-to-year” approach with each child. Billy might be homeschooled in kindergarten and first grade, placed in school in second grade, homeschooled in third, fourth and fifth, and then put in school for middle school, etc. Who knows where he will end up in high school! Some families take the same approach with their involvement in homeschool co-ops. Some families tend to move from co-op to co-op year after year.


I have several concerns. First, there is a lack of academic stability in the life of the child who doesn’t know from year to year where he is going to be. The same principle discussed above applies here. When a child goes from homeschool to school (or vice versa) he is moving from one “system” to another, and frequent jumping from one to the other will certainly create gaps in his learning.


Second, there is a lack of social stability in the life of this child. He will experience what I call a “revolving door” of friendships. He has his homeschool friends for a couple of years, then his “school” friends for a while, and back and forth. He is not able to develop lasting connections, and this is not healthy. Again, I am not saying we NEVER make any changes in this area. That would be entirely unrealistic. But the idea that each child is “year-to-year” for their entire education creates problems.


After doing the necessary research and praying about it, I believe it is better to pick a plan and stick with it than to jump from one plan to a “better” one, then to a “better” one, and so on. When it comes to curriculum, do the research, ask your friends what works, pray about it, then pick one and go with it. It is better to be consistent with a particular one even if it’s not the latest and greatest. Likewise, when it comes to the tough decision of homeschool vs. school, do the research, discuss it with godly people, pray about it, and then make a decision.


I sure wish I had stuck with one basic hair style over the last twenty years. I would have fewer embarrassing pictures popping up on Facebook! But it’s one thing to regret a hair style; it’s quite another to end up with regrets about our children’s education.


Bruce Etter


Bruce is the headmaster of Veritas Press Scholars Academy. His responsibilities include teaching numerous Omnibus courses. Bruce has written essays for several books in the Omnibus textbook series. He earned his M.A. in Religion in 2002 from Reformed Theological Seminary and his B.A. in Bible from Columbia International University in 1992. Bruce has taught at Christian schools for 14 years. He and his family moved from Fredericksburg, Va., to Lancaster, Pa., to teach at Veritas Academy. He and his wife, Julie, are parents of five children, Isaac, Sarah, Zachary, Jack, and Micah.


Educational Helps


Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2, and according to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and does not see his shadow, then he will come out, thus predicting that winter will soon end. But if the groundhog does see his shadow, then that is supposed to mean we are going to have six more weeks until the coming of spring. How accurate are the forecasts given by these rodents on Groundhog Day? Some studies have shown that the results have an approximate 80% rate of accuracy!


The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania—the home of Punxsutawney Phil. The holiday began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Besides Punxsutawney, the holiday is celebrated in other places, including in Quarryville, Pa., a town very close to the Veritas Press office and warehouse. If you can't get to Punxsutawney, you can still celebrate and prognosticate using the groundhog hand puppet we are giving away in this epistula. Follow this link for the puppet instructions.



Laurie Detweiler



Free Offer


Free Chocolate with February Order
Wilbur Buds are back by popular demand—especially by our office staff. We at Veritas Press pride ourselves in being highly sophisticated connoisseurs of fine chocolate and would like to share the benefit of our experience with you. With orders of $100 or more in the month of February, we will include a box of these delights for the asking. You must ask. When you place your order simply say, “Please include the chocolates,” or “Give me the chocolate and no one gets hurt,” or something along those lines. (If ordering on the web, type “Chocolates” in the Special Instructions box during checkout.)


Freud’s Last Session (Ticket Discount)

We recently met Rob Stillman, a Christian here in Lancaster, Pa. He has courageously produced a show called Freud's Last Session, which is currently playing in New York. The play centers on Dr. Sigmund Freud, who invites a little-known professor, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London. On the day England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash over many of life’s big questions. More information is available at We’ve arranged a discount for you, our customer: use the promotional code “veritas11” when purchasing a ticket at the web site. Rob told us to tell you to bring your non-Christian friends and be ready to answer for the hope within you.




Q. What’s the difference between Omnibus I, II, and II and IV, V, and VI? Do students need to take the first three before they take the last three?

A. Omnibus I, II, and III cover the historical periods of ancient, medieval, and modern respectively as does IV, V, and VI. However, they cover different books, and IV–VI tend to cover harder ones—Aristotle and Thucydides, for example. It is not necessary for students to start with I–III. In fact, we recommend IV–VI for 10th – 12th graders, but either can be used. Exercises to practice Rhetoric are included in IV–VI, too. Interestingly, when covering all six books, which we highly recommend if you get started early enough, your students will study every book in the Bible and an enormous amount of the great works that have endured the test of time—all from a biblical worldview. Finally, Omnibus IV–VI include essays on 18 different disciplines, getting students to think about a breadth of subject matter biblically. These essays include disciplines like economics, psychology, media, sports and leisure, business, and many others.


Q. How can I best evaluate where I am at this mid-year junction?

A. Hopefully, at the beginning of the year you developed a school-year plan to help keep you on track for this school year. We sometimes call it a curriculum map. It is so important to do this to allow you to know how much work you need to get done in any given week. If you did this, you should now look at each discipline and see where you are in comparison to it. If you are ahead in a given area, hooray!—this will allow you to have extra time in those areas where you are behind. In these areas you should take your curriculum map and re-plan for the days that you have left in the school year. Also, this is a great time to take stock of those things that you were planning to memorize in grammar school. Make a list of the chants you wanted to memorize, and see how many you can check off the list. Remember that even if they know it now, you should continue to review. The best thing to remember is, you cannot keep putting off things for the next year, or one day you wake up and your child is twelve years old and still does not know his multiplication tables. Evaluating where you are is the best tool for staying on track.


Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to





Photo Contest Continues

Announcing our winter photo contest. Our winter experiences vary greatly depending on where we live. Whatever you are doing, share with us your favorite photo of your family, a place you want to share, or some other idea that will impress us. Have your family takes some pictures then do a writing from pictures exercise from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). Or, if you don’t use IEW, have your children write a paragraph or poem about the picture.


The photos should be sent as attached files to and are due by 8:00 AM EST, February 21, 2011. Please include the photographer's name, age (if a child,) the geographical location of the photo, and a telephone number. The winners will be announced in the March epistula. Gift certificates to Veritas Press will be awarded as follows:


First prize - $100

Second prize - $50

Third prize - $25


Registration for Veritas Press Scholars Academy 2011-12 School Year

Hard to believe, but it is time to begin thinking about course registrations in Veritas Press Scholars Academy (VPSA) for next fall. Our explosive growth in our live teacher-led courses has been both exciting and a little hectic. You'll see some new offerings alongside the standards you've come to expect. If you haven’t looked into these, don’t hesitatethey fill up fast. Click here to view the schedule. Here’s the schedule:


2/1       Families enrolled in VPSA Diploma Program may register for classes

2/7       Families enrolled in a VPSA online class (teacher-led or self-paced) may register

2/10     Families new to Veritas Press online classes may register


Omnibus III Primary Course offered for other side of the world

We have been so pleased to welcome students from across the world into our VPSA classes. We understand, though, that for some families, this has meant waking up early or staying up late. In order to serve these families better, we will be offering an Omnibus III Primary class in 2011–12 designed to meet the scheduling needs of families from other time zones. This 9:00 p.m. Eastern class will have an equivalent start at 5:00 p.m. in Anchorage, 4:00 p.m. in Honolulu, 3:00 p.m. in Auckland, 12:00 p.m. in Sydney, 11:00 a.m. in Tokyo, 10:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, and 7:30 a.m. in Mumbai. If this is well-received, we will consider offering more classes in this time slot in the future.


History Self-Paced Courses

Feedback continues to be great on these new self-paced courses. We now believe this is the very best way for students to grasp and master the material. Click here to read what customers have said. We had thousands of takers on the recent free trial and many have continued. Registration is now open as follows:


Course (click on the title to learn more)



Old Testament and Ancient Egypt History



New Testament, Greece and Rome



Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation



Explorers to 1815



1815 to the Present

Sept. 2011

Not Yet Available


Veritas Press Scholars Academy Diploma Program
Are you looking for your child to go to college? Do you desire accountability and assistance in knowing that each year your students are accomplishing what they need to? We now offer yearly certification services culminating in a high school diploma. There are four different diploma levels, each addressing the varying levels of a student's abilities and circumstances. Year-by-year certification services ensure you are on track for your objectives, meeting an outside standard, and, in many cases, satisfying state requirements. We've even made provision for qualifying courses completed elsewhere or using other curricula. For more information, click


Future Job Openings with Veritas Press Scholars Academy

Online Teachers—We are hiring now for next year and into the future! Don't wait if you are interested. With the rapid growth of our online courses, we continue to seek more teachers for the future. Experienced teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Send résumé to Bruce Etter.


Interesting Facts about Veritas Press

In January we asked, What dog breed have we insisted is the official dog breed of classical Christian education?The correct answer was: Border Collie. Dottie Beaver of Montgomery, Alabama, won the $25 gift certificate with the earliest correct answer.


Here's another fun question. How many course registrations will there be for the 2011–2012 VPSA school year from Feb. 1–14?


The first person to e-mail the correct or closest answer by 5:00 PM EST, February 15th to will again receive a $25 gift certificate.




Visit us on the web at or call us at 1-800-922-5082.


Browse the Veritas Press virtual catalog online!