I was all ready to finally sit down and write a blog about how I raise my daughter as a feminist, homeschooling, full-time work-at-home mom (that one always surprises people) and so many other roles I play. I was going to list some of the resources we use, the trips we’ve made, the projects we’ve done and how my daughter made her own Susan B. Anthony currency to use because she doesn’t like how women are not represented in our currency system.
But then something distracted me, so I’ll have to begin this series about feminist homeschooling from another place…
Tonight I saw an ad for some kind of homeschooling product or something linked from a news story a friend had shared—it actually turned out to be a propaganda-filled story on an anti-choice website with the slogan “Together we will stop abortion.” Wow, what a statement to make, by the way—exactly how are you going to do that? Stop rape? Provide free birth control to every citizen? Alter human DNA so that no babies are born until a person instantly wants one? I’m very interested to hear your strategy, anti-choicers. And no, I can’t call you pro-lifers, because you’re not pro-lives-of-women-who-need abortions. Some of you aren’t even pro-lives-of-doctors. Many of you are ironically pro-death penalty, too. But again, I digress.
Anyway, this ad had a header that read, “A Homeschooled Child,” and if was followed by some interesting statements, like “doesn’t learn that God is dead,” “learns abstinence not safe sex,” “doesn’t learn that Timmy has two daddies,” etc. WOW. With statements like these, it’s no wonder people think that my homeschooling family and I just can’t be liberals.
I am happy to tell you, however, that a homeschooled child—at least in the homeschooling communities that my family takes part in, which includes four— has a great education, a great life filled with community interaction, volunteering, cultural immersion and the opportunity to follow their passion. And some of these homeschooled children are not quite what this ad would have you believe.
My homeschooler certainly doesn’t learn that god is dead; she learns that there are many gods and goddesses, and that humans, in fact, invented religion with our imaginative minds as we tried to explain the mysteries of the universe, like how the sun comes up or why we get sick.
My homeschooler is only seven, but she doesn’t and will not learn safe sex; she will learn safe sex and is learning how to make her own decisions every single day and that she can trust mom and dad with any decisions she does make and to always support her no matter what and to trust her gut when it’s the right time to have sex or get married or have a baby, and that none of these things has to happen at the same time. My homeschooler even knows what her clitoris is and she’s pretty damn proud she has one. Why shouldn’t she be, and why shouldn’t she know? It’s her body; she asked and I answered. That is my job.
My homeschooler doesn’t learn just that Timmy has two dads, because he might have two moms. Or a grandma. Or just one mom, or one dad. Or foster parents. My homeschooler loves When Tango Makes Three. Sometimes she even pretends that her squinkies or stuffed animal families have two mommies or two daddies when she plays pretend. She doesn’t mind boycotting places that obstruct gay rights with her family. When a fellow homeschooler informed her that two girls can’t get married in our state, she was furious. She has a very strong sense of justice and wants to fight to make Missouri a gay marriage state.
So no, a homeschooled child is not this list above; in fact, I read the other day that only around 30% of homeschoolers do so for religious reasons. That’s not even half of us.
I think the reason why homeschooling continues to grow exponentially every year is that people are just waking up and seeing that our system’s one-size fits all approach is simply not working for our diverse, technologically growing community—nor the hearts and souls of our kids. Families also look different today, with more flexible work schedules and options at their fingertips. Learning is also quite easy with the Internet; you can take thousands of college courses online for free.
Some kids enjoy school and it works for them; some don’t. Homeschooling is a joyous lifestyle for many people and it’s a beautiful choice that we get to make. Choice is always beautiful, isn’t it?
I know many religious homeschoolers. I also know many non-religious ones. Of those who are religious, I know Buddhists, Mormons, Baptists, Pagans, Lutherans and Catholics. I know lots of humanists and atheist homeschoolers, too. My husband is one of those. Me, I’m a little eclectic—I’m a geeky science-aholic that collects Buddha statues, meditates and smudges her house when it feels tense. People call me earthy; I can dig that. Get it? Ugh…
My point is that we are very diverse, and you cannot peg down “homeschooler lifestyle” any more than you could “hetero/homosexual lifestyle” because everyone is different. You’d think we’d all get that by now!
Wood Sprite* knows that mom and dad are liberals, too. She doesn’t always agree with us (usually regarding the purchase of horses or ice cream and such) but she wanted to know about the local candidates I supported last year, and decided to campaign with me on her own. She goes into the voting booth with me every year. She wrote President Obama a letter last year. In his response, her favorite thing, of course, was the picture of his dog.
We have studied—and continue to study—worldwide religions regularly. Right now she’s very much into the Egyptian pantheon, and she knows that I expect her to find her own beliefs, in her own time. We hold to ethical values as a family as far as some things go—the golden rule, pretty much, and not hurting or yelling at anything with feelings when we can avoid it—but when it comes to an entire belief system, well, she has her whole life to figure that out.
“A homeschooled child,” after all, is much more than a sales banner. Homeschooled children are their own people, and if they live on Earth, you’d better believe they’re going to learn that Timmy has two daddies eventually, and how to have safe sex if they want to have it.
They’re very resourceful, children.
Written by Sara Schmidt
*Wood Sprite is the online alias of Schmidt’s daughter.