Dr. Jay Wile: Real Science in the Homeschool
- Thursday, June 05, 2003
Q: Dr. Jay, Thank you for being with us today! We look forward to learning about your company, your vision and you in general. Apologia Science is taking the home schooling community by storm!
Dr. Jay Wile: Is that a good thing? I live in the Midwest. We hate storms!
Q: Awww, come on! Well, to start off, could you tell us a little about your own educational background?
A: I went to public high school and then to the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., where I received my B.S. degree (magna cum laude) in chemistry and my Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry. After receiving my Ph.D., I started on the "professor track" at Indiana University where I was an assistant professor of chemistry. I then transferred to Ball State University. Although I was appointed as an assistant professor in the chemistry department, I went there to help design the science curriculum for Indiana's only residential high school for gifted and talented students. It was called The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities. I taught there for two years and then went back to teaching at the college level, still at Ball State University. I taught both university chemistry and physics courses for the next three years. During that time, we adopted a teen-age young woman, and I decided I needed more time to spend with her and more money to spend on her, so I left the university and worked in a medical diagnostic lab for three years. I spent most of my time there developing automated testing and result delivery systems. On January 14, 2000, I stopped working for the medical diagnostic lab and started working full-time on Apologia.
Q: How did you become interested in homeschoolers?
A: After I left the Indiana Academy and went back to teaching at the university level, I began experiencing home-educated students for the first time. I really knew nothing about home education, and I even wondered how home educated students got accepted at Ball State University, but I was impressed by what I saw. One day, on my drive into work, I came to the startling realization that my top three students at Ball State were all products of home education. Two of them had been homeschooled K-12, and the other had been homeschooled until high school. I wondered whether or not these three students were "normal" products of home education. To determine the answer to this question, I went to the library to try and find out if there were any studies on the academic abilities of homeschooled students. Well, there were several studies, and they all indicated that as a group, homeschooled students are academically (and socially) superior to their publicly and privately-schooled counterparts. This, of course, agreed with my personal experience, so I was quite intrigued. I decided that I wanted to meet some homeschooling parents so that I could learn why they were producing such excellent students when the "experts" in public education could not, so I talked with the Indiana Association of Home Educators. They set up seminars for me to do in which I talked to homeschooling parents about my experiences with homeschooled students, told them how to make their students more attractive to colleges, and gave them general encouragement about their decision to homeschool. During these seminars, parents would always ask me to recommend science curriculum. I did some looking at what was available to homeschoolers, and I did not like what I saw. Either the courses were solid, college-prep courses designed for the school, or dumbed-down silly courses designed for the home. Some home educators asked me to teach a co-op class in chemistry, but I did not like that idea, as I think that the strength of home education lies in the fact that it encourages independent learning. Thus, I told them that if they were interested, I would write them a chemistry course and send it to them chapter-by-chapter. In addition, the students could call me if they had any questions. Before I was even done with the course, people began calling me saying that they had heard about an incredibly user-friendly chemistry course that I had written, and that they wanted to purchase it. That's how Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. was born.
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