How do you decide how much weight to give each literary element?
Creating the scoring system was not an easy task, and is proprietary. ValuedMinds is concerned with the intellectual content presented to children, and therefore we give greatest weight to the Ideas presented in the story. Since some Story and Craft elements contribute to the Ideas component, it is possible for Ideas to account for nearly half a fiction work’s total score. This ensures that a well written and interesting story with very misleading ideas and examples will not ‘sneak’ into the high scoring range.
Obviously with some exceptions most reviewers, especially on tother Internet book sites, present a hodge podge of approaches to the books they write about. For the same book, one reviewer might be fascinated by its style, weighting it far above other elements, while another is more interested in characterization, and that heavily skews their judgment. The result is that the neither review looks at the book as a Whole. Similarly two different books may capture one reviewer’s interest in two different ways, so they are not evaluated equally. One need only visit Amazon’s customer reviews to see the confusion. Our approach is to examine each book as an integrated Whole, comparing them by a common standard.
How does your scoring approach change for Discovery works?
Discovery works receive a much greater weight for content… triple that used for Fiction. Other literary elements are reduced and of course plot and characterization is not scored. The total score is still 100 points. We examine the scientific content not only for its technical validity but also for the ‘spin’ that authors often add. Authors often ‘blend’ in philosophical interpretations on topics that, for children, simply should not be there. For example, a book on wild cats should not suggest to children that mankind’s population should be curbed to protect endangered cats. Even if you believe the suggestion is valid, it is indoctrination to confront a child with such a complex notion. When a person indoctrinates a mind, they treat that mind as if it were their vessel to fill, rather than its owner’s.
Everyone has different ideas about right and wrong, good and bad. It is all a matter of opinion, so why do you think you can say what is best?
Those who make such scornful claims in order to refute another’s opinion, are themselves claiming to hold an absolute opinion! They are hypocritical. “Opinions” are not by definition arbitrary and subjective, they can be perfectly accurate and reasonable.
It was someone’s opinion that electrical signals could be used to present this sentence to you on your computer monitor. Their opinion was correct, and absolutely so. It is by these opinions that human progress has brought modern medicine, agriculture, information systems and so on, all of which make our lives better and longer.
We believe the real world, and careful reasoning, can provide definite answers. This is not a claim to infallibility, only that success is possible and worth the effort. We choose to make that effort, and if we err we are sufficiently proud of our commitment that we want it shown to us. Then our ‘opinion’ will be intellectually improved, and so will we.
We believe that our view is vital for a child to adopt, to learn to respect his own mind.