Positive Atheism Forum
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Secular Home Schooling Options
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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Dan Conine"
Subject: Re: homeschool help?
Date: October 16, 2001 9:04 PM

I'm clueless as far as actual experience goes, but I am pretty good at speculating. I"ll also send this out to our list and see if anybody else has any specific answers. Check our Forum section in a few days and see what came in.

I'm sure that investigating where some of the Christian home-schooling stuff comes from might bring about some clues. I bet they only write their creationism and morality and religious stuff: spelling and math are spelling and math wherever you go, and I'd bet they use some pretty regular stuff for those subjects.

Also, you might have some luck contacting groups that help severely retarded or severely ill kids (such as cancer patients). Sick kids need home-schooling, too, and not all of them are biblical fundamentalists.

Finally, you might want to contact some of the private schools such as the Montessori system or some of the new "Green" or other ultra-Liberal groups who have put together some pretty high-class schools for the kids to learn some special-agenda material and hang with the kids of like-minded parents.

If I were doing this, I'd go so far as to be willing to pay a consulting fee to, for example, the curricula director of a private school. A small to moderate fee to one of these professionals could save you a bundle in trying to track down the materials and even the paperwork you have to fill out.

And there are always books and magazines. If your library isn't much help, Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon, has several dozen feet of shelf space dedicated just to educating children. They're online, so you can familiarize yourself with the system they use to categorize and shelve the books, and you can also sometimes catch the person who works that section.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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From: "Don Miller"
To: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Seeking Resources For Secular Home Schooling
Date: October 16, 2001 11:15 PM

Hello, Cliff and Dan. Atheist home-school dad here.

There are a lot of homeschool resources that aren't specifically theist. A good place to start might be the magazine Growing Without Schooling.
It is essentially secular-they print submissions from a variety of perspectives, some of which mention religion, but most do not. John Holt started the magazine in the 70s, and wrote many books about homeschooling, before it was even called that, without reference to religion. GWS is also affiliated with a bookstore that carries a lot of resources that are not-necessarily-theist.

(The home-schooling or "unschooling" or "deschooling" movement, if you can call it a movement, started with left-leaning libertarians in the late 60s and early 70s, long before the right-wing Christians adopted it. They've managed to associate the whole thing with their dogma, but they didn't start it.)

The only specifically atheist resource I know of is a Yahoo email group called homeschool_atheists. Dan could probably trade a lot of information, maybe find some likeminded folks near him.

For "curriculum", there is a wide range of preference. Many families try to replicate school at home, while many do very little that one would recognize as "school". My family is in the second camp. We use regular books, a few textbooks or workbooks, the net, videos, this and that, whatever we can find in the library. We've never had a shortage of interesting information to study. Public schools often make materials available. Many have "alternative" programs or part-time enrollment for non-schoolers. There are also correspondence schools, such as Clonlara,
that don't appear to be particularly theist. I have no experience with their materials, but I"ve heard of non-theists using them.

There are a lot of us heathen homeschoolers out here, a lot more than the popular media seem to know about.

Good luck to Dan. Feel free to write me.


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From: "David Eller"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Seeking Resources For Secular Home Schooling
Date: October 16, 2001 10:40 PM

Here are a few websites dedicated to the issue of secular homeschooling.


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Added: January 20, 2002

From: "June"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Resources for secular home schooling
Date: October 17, 2001 5:38 PM


I was sent the original e-mail for this from a friend of mine because he knows I home school and I am an atheist. There are a lot of secular resources on and off the net and some that offer both types of support religious and non religious. I need to know what type or style of schooling Dan and his family are doing to get them the right type of help, and what state they are located because there are individual state support groups that could help. If your whole group would like to know more about home schooling, more specifically, secular home schooling let me know and I will join the mail list and give them the resources I have.

I am always willing to help.

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From: "Leslie Moyer"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Sent: January 20, 2002 5:39 PM
Subject: Secular Home Schooling Options (Forum) (10-01)


I found an October letter from you on this website [garbled] and wanted to add one resource that was not mentioned, but is very good: Home Education Magazine. For "Don," who wrote said something about Growing Without Schooling Magazine, they're no longer publishing, so I thought your readers would like this alternate resource. It is also not strictly secular, but by far the closest thing to it. If you'd like some other resources, I'd be glad to provide them. I've been a secular homeschooler and unschooler for 15 years. Let me know if you would use them.

Leslie Moyer,

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Cliff responds:

This will be good in light of our recommendation that we involve ourselves with groups and organizations that do not have a religious test. After all, it's not necessarily the religion itself that we find dangerous but certain elements that tend to be quite common in religion, such as tribal loyalism and fundamentalism. We do well to remind ourselves that atheism (secularism) is not immune to being ravaged by these elements among us. Positive Atheism suspects that abandoning the religious test (even for atheism) could serve to take the wind out of both fundamentalism and loyalism.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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