Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Something for which to repent

In a late addition to my last post about Sonlight and CHEC, I asked whether Sonlight needed to repent.

I should have probably specified better what that might mean.

I did not intend, by my question, to suggest that Sonlight might need to completely change the way it has done business (though it possibly could). More: I sensed there might be some things for which the company might need to "change its behavior."

I received several replies privately (as well as publicly) that, in sum, said, no--not corporately. Maybe personally. But for what does Sonlight have to apologize?

But then I received the following email. And it cut me to the quick.
The truth is, after having done Core 5 in '06-'07, I was terribly disappointed. Much to my surprise and dismay, I discovered that Core 5 did not offer much help in discussing [certain] difficult books with a 10yo.

This was the first core that really used a significant number of difficult books, and I guess I expected SL to guide me through the discussions. Most noticeable among these were Daughter of the Mountains and The Cat Who Went to Heaven [TCWWtH].

While the notes mentioned problems with TCWWtH, I found little or no help in guiding my daughter. And there was no mention of any problems with Daughter of the Mountains, which is loaded with Buddhist philosophy.

As an MK myself, I may be especially sensitive about this, but I kept thinking, "There's something wrong with this, but I can't put my finger on exactly what it is." So I left a number of issues undiscussed, but I was always concerned that I missed something. And there were many other times when I could really have used more help in leading discussions, and there was little or no help available.
I wrote back:
Honestly, now that I have had the opportunity to think about the situation as deeply as I have, and, now, especially with your message (the first such message I can remember having received), I am beginning to think there really are some things for which Sonlight needs to repent (or, if that's too strong a word, then, "things about which Sonlight needs to change its behavior")!

Perhaps Sonlight has been so preoccupied with improving some aspects of its program that it has neglected other--more important and necessary--revisions . . . like adding more substantive notes to the Core 5 IG. It "just" disturbs me that this is the first I have heard of these failings . . . or, at least, heard of them in a way that I was able and willing to listen!

And so . . . the very fact that CHEC's objections have, finally, now, after more than a year, gotten through to my brain and elicited this kind of clarity: I can criticize CHEC's failings all I want. But the fact is, it was their actions that grabbed my attention and brought about this current--and, to my mind--happy result.

Thank you for writing.

I am passing your comments along to the "powers-that-be."

Hopefully Sonlight can make the kinds of changes that would help [or, rather, would have helped] you and others like you with Core 5.


A couple of comments/questions/requests with respect to the future:
  • I know my notes developed for the former Core 7 [now Core 100] American History program are very thorough--over 700 pages long! Still . . . I can imagine some people will find them inadequate.
  • Moreover, we do not comment on every book in our curriculum.
  • Putting the two previous points together: I wonder if we need to make more--or more compelling--appeals to customers to tell us what, specifically, they find confusing, inadequate, downright destructive, or . . . whatever. I know we make these appeals each year, but, for some reason, we have either not received, or failed to pay close enough attention to, comments like yours in your [message, here].
Truth: I have--and Sonlight has--always asked for feedback from Sonlight customers . . . not just the "good" stuff, but whatever someone finds less than ideal.

It was as a result of this kind of feedback and, on occasion, decisions that, "Nope. Sorry. We're not going to change that aspect of the program," that we came up with the Good Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight article.

Everything else: If you don't like it, please: we want to hear. (Or, at least, I want to hear! . . . And though I'm no longer involved in day-to-day operations, I am a major (though not majority!) owner and do have some clout. . . .)

Anyone else want to add some details along the lines of what my correspondent shared with me? I can't guarantee anything will be done. But I can guarantee it will receive a hearing!

Thank you!
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