Secular homeschooling

A stained-glass scene depicting aspects of culture and knowledge.
Detail from "Roots of Knowledge," a spectacular stained glass piece by Tom Holdman and Cameron Oscarson.

We're doing "secular homeschooling," which means that we aren't teaching from a religious viewpoint. It's not something I've talked about here, and it's not a phrase I find myself using very often, because it's not something that comes up. We're not religious. I was raised without religion, in a corner of the world that doesn't have much religion. I don't think of what we're doing as "secular homeschooling," I just think of it as "homeschooling."

When we were first considering homeschooling, I was holding some very outdated ideas about what the world of homeschooling would look like, including an inaccurate assumption that religion is a big part of it for most folks, and we would be oddballs in the homeschooling community. *BZZZZT* If religion is part of the picture for our homeschooling friends, I don't know, because it's not what we talk about. (I do hope though, that if it is, they feel welcomed and accepted, just as I would hope to feel welcome if we were in a more religious community.) Every once in a blue moon, in a homeschooling discussion group that isn't specifically secular, I'll come across a post that reminds me that some folks are coming from a much more religious point of view, but that's rare.

Perhaps one of the more definitive signs that homeschooling does not equal religious: advertising algorithms. I get plenty of ads for homeschooling stuff, and none of it is religious.

All the teaching materials we use are secular, and I haven't had any gotcha! moments from unexpected religious content in any materials. It has not taken any special effort to find secular materials.

We're learning about the religions of the world, because they're a big part of culture and history. Knowing about religions is important for understanding and connecting with the people we share this planet with. It's important for reading comprehension when there is a reference to a religious figure, story, or ritual. We enjoy learning about the stories and traditions, and we enjoy the philosophical discussions they stimulate.

So, yeah, we're secular homeschoolers, but it turns out there's not much to be said about it. I know the experience can be otherwise in different parts of the country, but here in San Francisco at least, this is just typical homeschooling.

Finding an image for a post about what we're not doing was hard! I was thrilled when I came across this spectacular piece of stained glass art by Holdman Studios, Roots of Knowledge. The image above is just one tiny detail of an expansive work that has taken many years of effort. It's installed at the library of Utah Valley University. Go take a look!

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