By Denny Mather
There are many reasons for home schooling. Most of the people we met were doing it for religious reasons. I have absolutely nothing against religion (my main principle is “The Golden Rule”) but found some of the mothers rather hard to take when they tried to force it on us.
There was the time when we went on a field trip to the chemistry department of the college here, where the kids got to blow things up and talk of all the wonderful things that chemists do. We also took a quick tour of the biology department. I found out later that two of the mothers told the woman in charge of the outreach department that they did not want any mention of evolution to be made... I was not very happy about that and Vinnie and I would not have gone if I had known about it.
The geography club we belonged to was run by religious folks. I was prepared for a secular take in the reports but was taken aback when several of the reports were more about God than the country itself: God made the rain forest and all the animals in it. God made the desert and scorpions and coyotes. God made cactus, which has many uses... You get the picture. Vincent rebelled by choosing Australia which has the most diverse animal population of any country and spoke of evolution in his report. We were not invited to the next meeting. (Shortly after that Vincent got a rat that he named Darwin.)
I started a book club with another woman who was home schooling her two daughters for many of the same reasons I was. All of the kids in the book club were either high school age or close to it. We wanted it to be enjoyable and educational and thought we'd allow the kids to choose the books they wanted to give reports on. The first book was Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. (Vincent and I both liked it enough to buy it and all the other books in the series) The kids liked it but some mothers complained that it was too violent and the language was terrible.
Vincent picked To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. According to the same folks who didn't like Ender's Game, it too was inappropriate. The language, again, was objectionable and the story matter (rape) was not suitable for the age group.
When it was time for one of their kids to pick a book, Moby Dick by Herman Melville was chosen. Vincent actually liked it and was really upset when it was decided by those people that it was not a good choice after all and Don Quixote by Cervantes should have been picked instead. I have never believed that either of those books were something a kid would want to read without parental involvement, but made Vincent read them anyway. The next book on the list was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. For us, the book club was over. I don't have anything against the “classics” but feel they are more school assignments then pleasurable reading.
The women who objected to some of our choices were the same ones who thought the Harry Potter books were evil. It never happened around me, but the woman who helped me start the book club said that some of the kids who weren't allowed to read the books did come to her house to watch the movies as they came out. And, supposedly, that was OK with their parents. Either that, or they lied when they said that their parents knew what they were doing.
There was another group of rabidly religious people in Sumtown who would have absolutely nothing to do with our “liberal” group. We didn't mingle with them and I do not know much about them other than the one boy we met at 4H who wasn't allowed to play cards or think for himself. His mother told me of their group and I was invited to join but Vincent and I certainly did not fit in their category. I'm not into having my husband dictate what I may or may not do or wear long skirts and long-sleeved blouses, and the only reason I wear a scarf is to cover my baldness from chemotherapy.
Vincent has a Japanese tutor who is married to a minister and we never had disputes with them about religion. I respect their rights to believe what they do and have asked them to say grace before meals when they are at our house for dinner. They, in turn, respect our beliefs and we have become good friends.