There are many facets to homeschoolers. We’re a mixed bunch. There are countless reasons for homeschooling and just as many, if not more, various ways to actually homeschool your children. Yet one of the most common ways to compartmentalize us is to lump religious homeschoolers separately from secular homeschoolers.
My family is secular- which currently makes us the minority in the minority. For any secular homeschool family (especially those just starting out) it can be a bit overwhelming. There are a wealth of biblical and religious resources, curricula, and materials. There’s numerous faith-based groups, organizations, and co-ops available to join.
As a secular homeschooler you may oftentimes feel like the odd man out.
- But don’t make it harder on yourself. Don’t divide when there is no need!
A very close family friend started telling us about Classical Conversations a few years back. Our families had both entered the homeschool “arena” at roughly the same time and we had both naturally arrived at a more classical educational approach. For her, as a Christian family, Classical Conversations was a perfect fit.
I however, remained skeptical. There are many co-ops and groups that require a signed Statement of Faith in order to participate; and I assumed that an organization whose mission is “to know God and make Him known” would not want a secular family in their midst. Surely, we wouldn’t fit into CC, right?
Yet everything else about CC was in line with my approach to educating my children and I’d drool over the resources in their catalog. You see, CC takes all the things I love about classical education and creates a group environment for children (and parents) to set the stage for further developing and deepening their own classical approach. You get the perks of a traditional classroom (weekly presentations, public speaking, team work, taking direction from a tutor as opposed to mom) without having to give up control of your child’s education.
Some aspects that really appealed to me were:
- the sense of community (weekly classes, park days, and field trips with consistent people)
- that TIMELINE! the fancy cards, the catchy song!
- a bit more accountability for both me and my kids
Yet I kept coming back to the biblical worldview and viewing it as an impediment. But then my husband said something that rang true- it’s not like we don’t want to expose our children to other worldviews. It’s not like we’re hoping to keep them ignorant of biblical matters. In fact we both believe knowing the stories and history in the bible is important for any educated person. Even with this approach in mind, I wasn’t sure the folks at CC would even want our family.
But I went to an open house anyway to check it out for myself.
When I brought up my family’s secularism to the Director of the local CC chapter I figured I was giving her the opportunity to admit that CC wouldn’t be a good fit for us. A way for her to quickly bow out and us to part ways with no hurt feelings. Instead she welcomed us with a warm smile and mentioned a few points:
- Classical Conversations is not the product of one specific church or denomination. In fact, there are already other secular families utilizing the community.
- Classical Conversations is not a traditional co-op where they ‘teach’ per se. Instead tutors introduce material in a very rapid quick-fire way and it’s up to the parents which subjects and material they will explore more in-depth at home. Parents still have full reign over their children’s education.
- While CC does not require a signed Statement of Faith in order to participate in the program, they do however, require that the individual tutors sign one. Which effectively means I won’t be able to tutor in their program. (Which is honestly their loss as I would be an awesome tutor and wouldn’t be disrespectful to their belief system or try to usurp the conversation in any way contrary to their teachings.) And while I might not care for that specific policy I can understand their position and live with it.
So while CC goes over things like Creation and the Fall, I can still come home and teach my children about theories on Big Bang and evolution. And now I have the added perk of my children being exposed to another point of view and can begin in-depth dialogues. Plus, with the joining of CC I have access to a great bunch of people to steer my biblical and interpretation questions to without fear of being ostracized.
Six weeks into our Classical Conversations experience and a lot of the misconceptions I had about Christians are changing as my CC friends prove themselves more open-minded than I had given them credit for. . . and if I may actually be so bold as to point out- they’re not at all as vocally snarky as some of the secular conscious parenting groups I had stumbled into. Like I said earlier- there are many facets to homeschoolers; we’re a mixed bunch.