No. Not at my school, anyway. And I don’t mean that we’ve considered it and decided against it – what I mean is that this is the first I’ve paid attention to this, and have never really considered it before. Thanks for linking to the Novare article – I have a lot of respect for John Mays and his organization even if I haven’t been following recent (or even not-so-recent) trends on this.
That said, after reading his article, they would still have some work left to do convincing me to adopt this whether in the home-school front or in any regular school. I speak as a physical-sciences/math teacher who prizes being able to have physics students in their last year(s) of high school. So this may be a bit of a “physi-centric” view as opposed to somebody invested in the life-sciences.
The author makes it sound as if we just sort of drifted into this configuration by accident, and that any (apparently insufficient) advantages it may have are somewhat incidental to how the sequence has developed. The article does acknowledge, even if dismissively, the traditional motivation of preserving the more mathematically-demanding courses for the later years of school. Physics properly taught (IMO) is just such a course in spades. They may be correct that all the major concepts can still be taught without needing trigonometry or calculus, but only taught in a less robust sense. And they are absolutely correct that the basics of physics (measurement, dimensional analysis, basic math skills/precision) are needed earlier in a science curriculum (the presumed motivation for putting physics in this earlier, more ‘foundational’ slot, I gather). But that is why we teach a 9th/10th grade physical sciences course in the first place (as well as hitting these topics in junior high). And I repeat some of it again in our 11th grade chemistry course – not because they haven’t already seen it, but because they need the repetition for it to begin to sink in. Having my students in physics while I’m also teaching them trigonometry concurrently – or better yet for some of the advanced ones: taking calculus concurrently, helps tie so much of it beautifully together in ways that would be totally impoverished if I was forced to cripple the physics down to what most 9th graders would be ready for. Which brings up the next (probably valid) concern from the article.
The author(s) are critical that we have low expectations of our younger high school students who really could rise to the challenge above. They may be right – I haven’t done the studies they have --but if so, then I would want these exemplary young students concurrently rising to the same challenge on the mathematical side so that I can still teach the more mathematically demanding physics. In fact some of ours do exactly that (taking calculus 1 by their junior year) --and if they need physics that soon, I don’t stand in their way, but they are fine getting chemistry first and physics after.
Some of these motivations may carry the scent of physics-envy, and a competitive jostling for the “prime curricular spots” of a 4-year program. I doubt Novare would ever give short-shrift to any of the physical sciences, and I don’t doubt their motivations do include preserving preeminent spots. But (short of moving kids to an accelerated math track to keep up with their sciences --which I’m sure many can do) I would feel a need to revisit physics during some of the student’s most mathematically mature years, lest I send them away with remedial and long-faded exposure.
Biology (unless one delves more deeply into biochemistry or genetics than I imagine most high school courses will go) just does not bring in the same mathematical rigor, so it makes sense that students could launch into that more fully earlier. (spoken by somebody whose last biology class was in fact, in high school thirty years ago --so I’ll brace for any bluntly delivered corrections needed here).
All this said, homeschoolers have the advantage of nearly infinite flexibility. So if Johnny is a math-whiz, then sure! I’d bring on the physics early. But if math is a struggle --then beware! Or you can do like my wife and enjoy taking “physics for art majors” at college – a class she remembers positively and with apparent good benefit. It’s never too late. Maybe I should be looking for “biology for the mechanical-minded”.
That’s my initially-provoked ramble on all this. Sorry that it wasn’t the affirmation you may have been wanting. But I’m partially open to new developments and research – if it doesn’t fly in the face of experience too much.