First of all, I hadn’t realized that Smrt Mama of Smrt Lernins was the founder of Secular Thursday. (See the clicky box in the sidebar for more info, if you want it.) I think it is a fabulous idea, and I thank her for it! In short, it isn’t anti-religion, or anti-religious homeschoolers; it is pro having a homeschool curriculum that isn’t based around the specific thoughts of any one religion. Many secular homeschoolers are religious people, but they don’t desire to make religious study part of their homeschool curricula.
Anyway, here I am. I am a spiritual person, but not a religious one. I talk spiritual things with my children, and introduce them to various religious practices for sort of tradition/cultural anthropology purposes, but not in context of our homeschooling lives. That is a lot of hair splitting for only two sentences, but there you go. That is just the way we roll.
So why am I writing for Secular Thursday if I am, in some ways, a fence-sitting hair-splitter? Well, for starters, I don’t consider myself any such thing. I do NOT use educational materials that refer to G-d or any Lord other than those who owe fealty to earthly royalty, unless we are doing comparitive religion stuff or history of various cultures. I teach evolution, and did so when I taught public high school biology.
Mostly, I’m here, writing for Secular Thursday, because I am frustrated (and, well, *annoyed*) that I keep getting blind-sided by religious homeschooling materials. I’ll read a review of something, think it sounds all spiffy, and WHAM! “G-d this” or “in the end times” that, or some (sorry, gonna say it) “young earth” garbage. NO, science doesn’t know everything, and YES, I *do* believe in G-d (and show enough respect for other believers to not write out His full name (when I remember)), but *our* homeschool is not based on religious convictions and I’m tired of having folks assume otherwise.
I don’t mind that books that include the word of The Lord in every math problem exist. Honest! What I mind is when people sell or pass along materials like that without letting the consumer/recipient know that this is what the book is – math for people who think that G-d belongs in every single math problem we do. (I think he’s already there, folks – math is about as pure divinity as anything I’ve ever seen that isn’t alive.)
And, yeah, I have a problem with Apologia ‘Science’, and yeah, I think they SHOULD apologize for daring to call it that. I don’t mind that people believe this stuff, but I DO mind that people are teaching their kids this stuff as fact. When I presented evolution in public school, I told my students that they didn’t need to *believe* what I was telling them, but they DID need to understand the principles and know the evidence behind the theory. (Note: I presented it as THEORY, not FACT. That is just good science, IMNSHO.) I have no problem with parents presenting young earth and creationist stuff in the same way, or even telling their kids “this is what we believe in this family”, but too often I see parents who have crippled their kids’ critical thinking skills by expecting them to swallow *anything* without thorough explanation, and it makes my heart hurt to see children’s brains limited in such ways. (Sure, sometimes the explanation is just really complex for a kindergartener, but, gee, TRY.)
As an aside that has much more, IMO, to do with culture than with religion is the whole ‘helpmeet’ and ‘training up’ thing the Pearls spew. I’m stunned that thinking men and women would buy into this abusive garbage, but maybe it isn’t so hard to swallow after gulping down the ‘poof!’ theory of how we all got here to begin with. (Sorry, I read the great piece on this in the Secular Homeschooler’s Magazine archives last night, and I’m feeling a touch vehement. Ahem.) I generally and genuinely fear for the future of our society if such misogynistic, abusive, and downright deliberately soul breaking stuff is being passed off as ‘good parenting’, ‘good educational practice’, ‘good relationship building’, or ‘how to be a G-dly person’. (Sorry, I was raised Christian; I take serious offense at what these folks are spewing under that guise.)
In summary, (which you probably wish you’d skipped to in the first plsace,) I am a Secular Homeschooler because I want my kids to develop real critical thinking and scientific skills and to respect both themselves and the other people we share this incredibly, beautifully diverse world in which we live. Also? I don’t want people to assume that I’m anything else.
I seriously feel for the homeschoolers I know who feel called to include G-d and prayer in their daily homeschooling curricula, but who also include evolution, critical thinking, and respect for others in their teachings. Trying to be a Christian homeschooler and having to constantly explain that you aren’t THAT kind of Christian homeschooler must be exhausting… I have it easy!