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The Way Life Works

That is the name of the main "text" we will be using for Biology. I checked it out from the library today (to make sure it's what I want before I purchase it), and at first glance it looks excellent!

The book is a collaboration of Mahlon Hoagland, M.D., a molecular biologist, and Bert Dodson, a freelance illustrator.

In the Author's Notes they say, "The scientist wants to leave the reader with a feeling of awe and pride in the achievements of scientific exploration, in the human potential or ever deeper understanding. The artist, on the other hand, sees the possibility that an appreciation for our oneness with the living world can guide our individual actions as we shape our collective future. We hope our readers will be moved by both." This is the essence of a Living Book!

One of the first illustrations is of Russian nesting dolls being used to demonstrate that atoms (the smallest doll) fit into simple molecules (the next size doll) that fit into chain molecules that fit into molecular structures that fit into cells that fit into cellular communities. Each of the larger contain all of the smaller, which is easy to see in a nesting doll scenario.Very simple and a visual that makes it so easy to remember! I spent some time reading the first chapter last night and there were many illustrations and examples like this that gave me a visual that will make the concepts easy to remember. I am hoping the same result with Dawson.

This is a meaty book, though, with lots to cover. I think it is doubtful we will be able to complete it this year, especially with all of the other books and activities we plan to do with it. The first chapter looks as though it will take us a couple of weeks to complete. We will likely have to use the book to have a Biology I course this year and a Biology II course next year. But I am completely fine with that. In fact, I'll probably just plan it out that way. Dawson needs three units of science on his high school transcript. So, two years of Biology and a year of Chemistry should be sufficient for what he plans to do with his future.

And, as a disclaimer, this is not a creation-based book! It is heavy on the "theories" that we started out as minute molecules, in water, and evolved out of the water onto land and into more complex organisms over time. This might be distressing for some parents. With Dawson, it doesn't really bother me. We will discuss the "theories" because, let's face it, there are many. But Dawson is a very black-and-white kind of person. God is God. The end.

I'm going to spend this week and the weekend getting the text mapped out, at least through the first couple of chapters. Then we'll launch on Monday.


  1. "God is God. The end." love it!

  2. Interesting to know how you enjoy the book. I have a much younger son, but he's been asking so many of the questions that are probably answered in this book, and he's a brainiac so I can't ever give him enough knowledge. Perhaps something I might need to look into for the future. :)


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