Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Can't we all just get along?

6/28/06: Useful discussion for an inclusive group at a crossroads...
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NO. And here's why: Homeschooling is not homogeneous.

By design, homeschoolers are opinionated. Our reasons for homeschooling are as varied as our methodologies. Many of our choices are contradictory, which is why some militant unschoolers decry the use of curricula as a crime against children while sects of evangelical homeschoolers regularly take exclusionary precautions against non-conformers. Inevitably, friction happens, debates escalate, and lines are drawn.

I am not concerned with the homeschool methodology families choose (unschooling, CM, WTM, etc...just do what is best for your child and fits well with your family's lifestyle) unless their practices infringe upon my freedoms. Since Daryl, Chris, and Eric seem to have the cyber-school equation locked down (the well-justified war against governmental regulation--see comments at all of the above links), I want to address the deeply rooted differences in homeschooling philosophy, specifically evangelical homeschooling vs secular homeschooling (btw, secular is not a bad word nor is it synonymous with "anti-Christian").

No matter who you are, if you homeschool, you fall into one of those two camps. Period. Both are rooted in distinctly different philosophies, but overlap has more recently blurred the lines. Obviously, an atheist, pagan, Wiccan or other non-Christian homeschooler would encounter some form of conditional support from evangelical Christians (as a whole...just wanted to create that loophole for future reference). However, there are a lot of Christian families that homeschool for secular (read "not primarily for religious") reasons and are--contrary to first impressions--secular homeschoolers. These families have a tough time finding support that fits in areas densely populated with evangelical homeschoolers, because their common faith does not bridge their homeschooling differences.

In the South, the litmus test has become the Statement of Faith (SOF), a document which members of a evangelical group--sometimes just the husband as spiritual head of the household-- are required to sign. It offers proof that a member family conforms to the group's core beliefs and practices. It has nothing to do with why a secular family homeschools, therefore many Christians refuse to sign one, because these groups use the SOF as a means of control (there is a loose cyber g-school parallel here). Likewise, fundamentalists regard this refusal as suspicious. Hence the US vs THEM mentality.

Are private clubs and support groups legally allowed to discriminate? You bet. That's not the point. We're talking about divisions within the homeschooling community which are a product of philosophy and not subject to regulation. When perfectly motivated, well-adjusted Jews, secular humanists, Mormons (like the author mentioned above...yet another reason her lack of logic is disturbing), single/divorced parents and non-conforming Christians are denied support by a group that has the monopoly on resources (remedied by starting an inclusive group and creating your own resources...a la PEAK), divisions are inevitable and the results are often hurtful.

As long as we all passionately think, believe and live differently, these divisions will exist.

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