Thursday, March 29, 2007

finding a homeschool group

Tramping through my list of blogs I read, it seems today's common theme is the local homeschool group. Momma and I went through this same kind of thing not so long ago when Big Brother was a good bit smaller. She was home most often then so was most in charge of seeing to it that things happened homeschoolishly, and she did a damn better job than I ever have.

She did the usual round of searches and found a local group on Yahoo. We could tell that it was at least somewhat religiously motivated, but it seemed workable. The group was fairly active planning park days and field trips and educational opportunities. We were sure we could avoid the religious parts and hoped that folks would be able to let us.

The group is basically an email list. You can join and email the moderator with your plans or ideas, the moderator sends the emails to the group. I never delved too much into it, but that idea is basic to our eventual problem.

The group was never very helpful to us, and our leaving was fortuitous in that we eventually found a much better group of people when we did finally give up on the more fundamentalist types.

The turning point was the anti gay marriage petition request. For a short time in our state, a small group of very vocal people were calling for discrimination of gay and lesbian people by having anti equality rhetoric written into our state constitution. A member of the homeschool group sent a petition to the group and the moderator allowed it and sent it on.

So we get this request and are of course instantly offended. Momma, possibly a little heated, quickly emailed the moderator with her complaint, partly the offensive nature of the request, partly the appropriateness of such a request in a homeschool specific group. As happens when dogma gets in the way, Momma was of course the bad guy. Their complaint had more to do with internet etiquette than anything else, though they did try to assuage us with their open and welcoming hypocrisy.

Now Momma had a mission. She started her own Yahoo group. We had no idea what would come of it, but we knew in a town the size of ours, we couldn't possibly be the one family that homeschooled and were really open and welcoming. We couldn't be the only homeschooling family that weren't zealously religious. We couldn't be the one family that homeschooled and believed in equality.

I've said it a few times around here that I'm pretty much an atheist. Some atheists might call me agnostic because I'm not a militant asshole about my beliefs and can allow for any number of things being possible, see dragons, witches, hobbits, etc. I see most religious belief as a form of superstition tied to a myth, but I also understand that people are obviously predisposed to find superstitious causality. None of that is really my point here, and be glad that I'm not going into my theory on interstellar entities and gods.

So we are not believers, and for too many believers, that's a huge and insurmountable obstacle better left alone except to pray at it. We don't really care what you believe, and don't care if you pray for us. But we will defend our lack of beliefs with what we hope are reasoned arguments, though we'd prefer not to have to. That segment of religious people for whom this is a problem are that same little bunch that cause the problem in the first place. They just can't let you be.

Years later, not really a lot of years, but some, our little Yahoo group is still little. We do have a number of wonderful families that meet weekly and sometimes slightly more often. Our kids are mostly within a few years of each other, but with homeschoolers, close in age really means that there are a few years between the baby and the ten year old, but no one gives a shit.

I think we are still the only atheists in the group, but we have some unitarians and some wiccans. I'm pretty sure we have a family that's not only christian but republican leaning. And then you have the families about which I'm not certain as to their belief, and in all honesty, I don't really know that much about the beliefs of the families I attempted to describe above. It's this little thing I practice called not giving a shit. I may have mentioned that somewhere.

The lesson that everyone should learn from all this is that secular doesn't have to mean anti christian. We aren't anti anything except being dicks to people, and that was where we found ourselves at the end. We didn't want to hang out with people that were going to be dicks because of differences in assumptions about beginnings of life or sexuality or the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. We didn't want to have to pray before we walked into the zoo. We didn't want to be ostracized because our women wear pants. And the earth is older than six thousand years.

Start your own group. Use buzzwords in the description like open, secular and inclusive. Either mention atheism, agnosticism and belief in faithy kinds of shit, or don't mention any of it at all. Put up a notice on the christian group, because there are very likely more people just like you that never thought to start their own group. And then sit back and watch the crazies roll in. And the best part, if we forget to comb the kids' hair, nobody seems to notice.

Momma just read through this and reminded me of something. Avoid the word eclectic. Seriously, it just doesn't do you any good. Some really lovely people that I know and some really lovely bloggers I read don't seem as though they would fall under the generally accepted use of the word eclectic as it appears in the homeschooling world. To add to the things about which we don't care, we also don't care how you attain with your children that precious thing, that golden apple that is homeschooling. It's part of that shit that I don't give. I don't care if you and your kids homeschool by wandering through life with a magnifying glass or if you have desks and books and, heaven forfend, a chalkboard.


Frankie said...

Great post.

It's funny because just last night my husband and I were talking and he asked me to describe what type of homeschoolers we were: I said eclectic. Then I said I don't give a shit what type we are, we just do what works for Thomas.

Karen M. Gibson said...

Amen! Sorry, just couldn't resist. Loved your "couldn't give a shit." We need a lot more of that in the homeschooling community. Heck, in the world in general.

Housewife said...

*eyes cast down*

I like a chalkboard

I also like Momma's style

Check this one out:

Audrey said...

You know, we're so put off by the fundie hs'ers that we don't even like to call ourselves homeschoolers anymore. We're using the UK terminology now -- home education. Sometimes we call ourselves "guerilla educaciónistas" but you know... that wouldn't really go over too well 'round here.

Michele said...

Great post.

I believe that true spirituality, or lack thereof, and political positions come only from rational thought and polite dialogue. Fortunately the fine people I have chosen to surround myself with are rational and capable of polite dialogue.

(Of course today they weren't so happy when I locked the doors and confessed rationally that I was really a Jehovah's witness and denied them food and drink until they accepted Christ in a UFO as their Lord and Savior. They won't be happy with me in '08 either. But to each his own.)

No seriously. If you want everyone to agree with you then go sit in a room full of mirrors. Unfortunately, I think there are quite a few homeschoolers who took their kids out of school to do just that.

Tiffany Devol said...

Sam...this post is hilarious. And we are a mixture...agnostic probably...who the hell knows. I don't really wonder about what I am, I just am i guess.

I started reading with the ten commandments post and kept on reading. Definately brightened my day!