Yes. I’m going there.
There’s just too much at stake for these things to go unsaid.
My tone here is a bit more serious than most of my posts. That’s because I’m trying very hard to be pointed without being offensive. Please bear with me if I don’t quite succeed at that.
First, I want to be clear: This website was intended to be more of a business blog for home educators, than a homeschooling blog for entrepreneurs. Of course, I am passionately confident in home education’s superiority to any alternative, so I advocate for home education whenever possible. Still, there are some bitter flavors of home education that I
do not cannot advocate.
My typical stance on pretty much any ideological disagreement is “live and let live.” Every single person on the planet is entitled to live their life the way they choose*.
But, it is for that exact reason, that I’m writing this post now. Because “every single person” includes our children.
Didn’t you say “almost always?” Yep. If you stick with this post to the end, I’ll show you a couple areas where I think the religious folks have things right.
So, let’s just jump right in then, shall we?
Indoctrination is the opposite of education
Indoctrination is defined as teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically.
Indoctrination is the opposite of education. Indoctrinated people are expected to never question and to never critically assess what they’ve been taught.
My own Three Pillars of Life Schooling are nurturing curiosity, encouraging critical thinking and developing self-directedness. These three things form the foundation for the type of learning we want for our children. (More on that later.)
Any kind of indoctrination (religious, governmental, political, etc) stands in direct opposition to all three pillars.
Our role as educating parents is to encourage our kids to explore their interests, to facilitate that process whenever we can and to get out of the way as they wander down the winding road that will take them to a life they have chosen for themselves.
Adults who walk a path they’ve been indoctrinated to follow (whether religiously, politically or otherwise) are not exercising choice or free will. They were never presented with alternatives, and they were not trusted to make the decision for themselves. This puts them at a huge disadvantage in today’s world where open-mindedness and creativity are the predictors for success.
Which brings me to my second point…
Ignorance of other cultures & belief systems
Over the years, I have met countless wonderful, well-meaning, ignorant people. The only world they know about is their own and they make some of the wildest assumptions about the beliefs and practices of others. Ignorance is the foundation of far too many atrocities. Why would we want our children to continue that cycle? Yet, there are some who are raising ignorant children by design.
Some Christian families don’t teach their children about other belief systems. When they do, the information is often false. I’ve heard people say things like “Catholics aren’t Christians” and that “Pagans worship Satan”…or that any non-believer worships Satan. This is unforgivable misinformation, at best. But, it isn’t just Christians who pass on misinformation. We often don’t think to teach our kids to consider what life is like in other countries, at another socio-economic level or in different skin. When we do, it isn’t always in a positive context.
Ignorance breeds hate. Or at best misunderstanding and confusion. I know non-believing children who were raised by non-believing parents who never taught them bible stories. Even if you don’t believe these stories are gospel, they are still a huge part of our culture. Now, when my friend hears a reference to the Tower of Babel or the loaves and fishes, he’s utterly lost. Just as much as calling something a Sisyphean task would be lost on someone who never learned the Greek myths.
We do our children a huge disservice when we don’t prepare them to understand the culture of their own world.
Which brings me to my third point…
Science is awe-inspiring and cannot be ignored
I’m a bit more passionate and a lot less understanding on this point, so I will try to be brief. Facts are facts, and beliefs are beliefs.
The temperature outside right now is -2°F. That’s a fact. I believe anyone who claims to enjoy living in Alaska during the winter is either lying or completely insane. I’m willing to debate that belief, because it’s possible that I don’t have all the information…but I’m confident in my assertion. I will not debate the temperature. Because, well, what’s the point? It’s a fact.
Gravity. Centrifugal force. Evolution. The theory of relativity. These are all facts that inform us about our world. Science is always testing and tweaking and improving our knowledge of these and countless other awe-inspiring facts.
Faith, by definition, does not allow for testing, tweaking and improvement. Beliefs are completely separate from facts and should be taught as such.
Science doesn’t exist to challenge beliefs. Science exists to help us understand. Frankly, the more science I know, the more in awe I am of…well…everything.
I cannot relate to parents who’ve decided to homeschool for the sole purpose of keeping their kids from ever being exposed to facts that might conflict with their religious point of view. If your faith is so shakeable that, to keep it, you have to pretend rationality, reason and entire volumes of science & history don’t exist…is that faith at all?
So much for trying not to be offensive.
Maybe this will help. We’re now to the part of the story where I tell you what I think religion can teach our children.
The power of community
Humans need to commune with other humans. Church groups have the community thing down. Of course, you don’t have to go to church to get community, but we can learn a lot from their examples.
Family gatherings, trading knowledge, sharing heartache and celebrating life victories are all things that we need a community to do. Many non-believers (or non church-goers) get this from their circle of friends, homeschooling groups, humanist groups, roller derby teams, neighborhoods, where ever. Inter-generational connection is just the kind of socialization our children actually need. Not that manufactured, only-hanging-around-people-your-own-age, nothing-like-reality, BS, bully infested, ridicule ridden, hell-on-earth, middle school version of socialization.
The strength of conviction
There’s a critical life lesson here. A religious person has so much strength of conviction that he will stay on his path no matter what obstacles, facts and rationalizations are thrown in his way. Sure, I think his conviction is irrational, but that’s beside the point. The point is if your son decides he’s going to travel the world before he’s 30 (without a dime to his name), or your daughter decides she’s going to be elected president before she’s 40; then strength of conviction is key.
There will be naysayers and doubters. There will be roadblocks and impossible odds. But if we can teach them to be confident and steadfast in their convictions, they will keep moving forward. Maybe your son will only see 50% of the planet and maybe your daughter will become a Senator instead. But, they’ll no doubt go further with that strength than they would have without it.
Now, a request
If you agree with most of what I’ve written, Yay! A kindred spirit! I’m so glad you’re here. Please stick around via the RSS feed or the newsletter. Oh, and please leave a comment or share/retweet this to other kindred spirits.
If you disagree & would enjoy a friendly discussion on this topic, Great! Please share your thoughts in the comments. I hope, even if we don’t see eye to eye on this, that I’ll be able to help you grow your business & find the lifestyle you want. Feel free to share/retweet this to other people who might feel the same way.
If this post angers you to the core & makes you want to give me a piece of your mind, please retweet my link to like-minded friends and chat about it with them…elsewhere.
My purpose for writing this post isn’t to start a flame war. Nothing of the kind. I would love other non-believers to know that they aren’t alone in their thoughts and feelings. And I want my faithful friends to know that I respect your conviction and, despite our disagreement in this area, I know there are 1000s of other ways for us to care for and support each other.