Friday, April 11, 2008


Is it possible to love homeschooling and not be overly fond of homeschoolers? Must be as this is the space I'm currently inhabiting.

I homeschool because I think it is the best choice for my kids, and luckily I have the resources to do so. I am aware that my choice not a viable option for most families for a vareity of reasons and that angers me. I am also aware that upon making this choice that in many, perhaps too many, ways I was sheltering my children from other kinds of people. In some cases this might not necessairly be a bad thing but in other cases it is. But I've taken the risk and have attempted to combat it by joining various homeschool groups all of a secular nature.

Now I joined secular groups for a couple of reasons. A, I don't want to preached at or looked down due to my "bad" morals and B, I thought secular groups would be more liberal thus more tolerant. I also thought secular groups would be more likely to take a liberal stance towards things like racism. I knew that without a doubt I was unlikely to meet anyone who was poor, uneducated, or even from a different ethnic background (rich or poor). I know the statistics of secular homeschoolers: white, middle-class, educated. But considering my other options (CMS schools) I decided we'd have to go with it.

Let me be clear that not all homeschoolers suck. In fact, many of them are tolerant and open minded. Many practice a live and let live attitude. And, perhaps surprisingly, for some many of these tolerant people are Christians. Some even conservative Christians. For the most part, once they find out I'm secular they either decide to not hang out with me or we agree to not talk about religion. I have no desire to convert them to the secular way of life. Their beliefs concering God do not bother me so long as they are not pushed on me. Just I have no desire to push my beliefs on them.

I'm not going to lie. I found Jesus Camp pretty horrifying too. I also think it's the height of ignorance to believe in creationism. And yeah I find many Evangelical beliefs to be repulsive especially concerning things like women and homosexuality. But I also know that the media does love a good story, and inflating the numbers and the threat of Evangelicals is a great story. I'm not one for paranoia. Nor do I find myself too worried about being persecuted by Evangelicals. I find myself persecuted for a variety of reasons by a vareity of people. So my tolerance is really just that tolerance. And let me assure that if an ADULT Xian wants to get into with me, I'm ready. And if a child or an adult ever sprouts hateful language in front of me or my child, I'll speak up. But if there is a live and let live vibe? Im fine. I don't have to be best friends with the parent's of my kids friends.

Thus I walked into the homeschooling world, I thought, prepared. And while I should know at this point that most people suck, I still end up disappointed. Secular groups are as equally intolerant, paranoid, and ignorant as Xian groups. Stupidity and fundamentalism do not belong merely to Xian groups. H keeps telling me I shouldn't be so shocked but I am. And I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that these are the people that represent secularism in the world. In addition, these same groups that have no tolerance for religious difference are TOLERANT of racism.

Specific incident: On a secular email group a woman writes a post about how a "Mexican" family has moved next door. She's initially excited because her daughter will have playmates who will "teach her Spanish." And imagine this poor atheist's dismay when she discovers that the family is Evangelical. Her husband and she decide they must be Evangelicals in "an attempt to assimilate to the broader culture." The group goes on a rampage about how horrible Evangelicals are and about how the mother should "plant the seed" of evolution and other ideas in these "Mexican" children's minds. They rant about the threat of Evangelicals to their children's beliefs. The paranoia is disturbing and a bit psychotic. A few of us suggest that tolerance might be the best approach on the part of thee parent, and also point out that it is not the place of this woman or any one to challenge the beliefs of a child. I am called psychotic. Me. For suggesting tolerance.

And worst is that everyone ignores the racial stereotyping!!! I brought it up twice yet everyone is more concerned that I'd suffer an Evangelical to live. No one gave a shit that the original poster made several racist comments. I mean she assumes that the family is Mexican, she said she had not talked the parents or the child so I wonder how she knows this. Does she has some kind of sensor or are all Hispanic people Mexican? And then she assumes they speak Spanish and not only that but hey it's free lessons for her kids. How great is that? Hell maybe they'll have a grand old time learning some culture too. Wouldn't that be cool? And Evangelicals? Aren't all "Mexicans" Catholic? How bogus! What a disappointment! My second favorite part is that this woman reports that one of the "Mexican" children said that "Halloween is the Devil's birthday." And another woman writes back: "I can't understand why a Mexican would believe that when they have this charming holiday called "Day of the Dead" that all Mexico celebrates." (head hitting table). No one, no one, can see this as racist. I was not trying to suggest that the woman was racist but rather that she harbored her own intolerance and her own stereotypes....the same thing she saw in Evangelicals.

This all makes me question the wisdom of homeschooling but is the broader society any better?


Lolabola said...

I'm always amazed that attitudes like this still exist and people aren't embarrassed by them. I think I smacked my forehead about 10 times there in disbelief.

Ginger said...

Yeah it's pretty amazing. I'm not a big fan of Evangelicals but I think the parnoia gives them power. And the racism just blows my mind. These people go on and on about how ignorant Evangelicals are and yet sprout the most offensive ignorance.

neverneutral said...

I'm so ignorant I don't even know what "Evangelical" means :p (LOL).

Now seriously, well, gosh.

John B-R said...

No the broader society isn't better. I don't think homeschooling is the issue here. Nothing reported here seems limited to a homeschooling community. I think the question is: what's the best way to ensure that your kids grow up with as few foolish ignorances as possible? My kids' public school was the best local option; not only did they have the International Baccalaureate program, which guaranteed them a really good education, the school was also a total mix of many races, religions, ethnicities, economic and social classes, genderings, etc. They got to know everyone from doctors' kids to crack addicts' kids (I know not necessarily exclusive categories), etc. I'm sure you're doing your best to give your kids the same taste of how big the world is, while trying to make sure they also learn their pythagorean theorems, etc. All you can do is do your best.