Where I Come From: Homeschooling

As I mentioned before I am a homeschooled alumnus. I have read the stories of my cohorts(to use Darcy’s term http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2013/11/of-homeschooling-and-cohort-effect.html?m=1) on blogs and on Twitter. Here is my story:
I was christened in an AME Zion Church(African Methodist Episcopal, a predominantly African-American denomination). A few years later my mom had a born-again experience and grew dissatisfied with our church, wanting more. Along with a family friend we found a new church after having visited a few others. After a few years we moved closer to the church and a year after the move I began my homeschooling at grade six.
Let me describe the church: it’s a white Charismatic, non-denominational church on the frontier between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. I say this because we had some of the traits of Fundamentalism that are mentioned in stories like these, but we were lax in other areas. For example, modesty was preached, but pants, shorts, and sleeveless shirts were considered “modest”(just watch the cleavage). We watched secular TV and movies, but were told to be selective. There was an ambivalent relationship with secular music(Christian music definitely being preferred). We generally were not taught we were worthless, maybe a feature of the Prosperity Message. In fact, I remember sermons on no condemnation and on how much God thinks well of us.(There were exceptions; I know of at least one person who grew up hearing he’s worthless.) We were told God has a plan for our lives, and we younger ones were encouraged to do better than our elders.
On the other hand, we also were very insular.(Even today most non-Christians I interact with are online.) We weren’t part of any homeschooling groups; I didn’t even hear of Bill Gothard or the Pearls until last year. However I recognize versions of some of the teachings. We had the authority teaching; that there’s protection from Satan when you’re under authority. We had the teachings on respecting the man of God. We had complementarianism(for us we didn’t use the term and mainly preached that wives are to submit to their husbands — our pastor’s wife preached as well). We also had purity culture and I Kissed Dating Goodbye (though we went further and kept the genders separate for years). Spanking was prevalent.(Some families were more ruthless than others; my mom was on the benign side.) Spanking, along with threats of Korah and passing on A Divine Revelation of Hell, was a popular way of dealing with teenage rebellion.
Now for the education itself. Due to my having been picked on in school, I was glad to leave public school for homeschooling. With my mom being a single mom, a lady from church agreed to school me, along with another boy from a single parent home. We mainly used the A Beka curriculum(I did a little Bob Jones for algebra and chemistry). I’m sure going to someone else’s home helped guarantee I actually got schooling done. Also, my education was really important to my mom and she made sure I got through all twelve grades.(My mom later explained that comes from African-American culture. Namely, African-Americans traditionally value their kids’ education, as a way of offsetting the disadvantages they face.) Thus she put me on college bound. Due to being a math major she was able to help me in math in the higher grades. Pensacola Christian even tried to recruit me to go to school there.(After reading Samantha Field’s blog, I’m glad I didn’t go; mainly didn’t go due their rejection of the Charismatic movement.) Overall I describe my educational experience itself as positive.
Overall there was a taboo against going to college, due to fears that you’d walk away from God for “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, as the old saying goes. Someone even told me it’s rebellion to go to college. (As we know, rebellion is a heinous sin in Fundamentalism.) What I didn’t realize, though, is my mom wasn’t Drinking the Kool-Aid. By the time I turned 18, I didn’t care if it was rebellion but wasn’t into a battle. My mom told me she’d have fought for me. Also I started questioning my religion at this time, when the light went off that there’s more to the world than my little cave(I fell in love with Plato’s cave allegory). But that’s another post. This meant that I was concerned if I asked about going to college I would be pressed to go to a Christian school, and I just didn’t want to hear the same old line; I wanted to see the world from different perspectives. After all, part of my questioning arose from recognizing that if I’d grown up in Saudi Arabia I’d be Muslim and if I grew up on a mountain in Bhutan I’d be Buddhist. I was also afraid of inquiries into my life.
Some of my friends’ experience wasn’t as good as mine. Their parents dropped the ball (some of their moms may not have wanted to do it); and a lot of my friends didn’t make it through all grades before being recruited for work at extremely low pay(and the girls to work at church). I, too, got recruited for one of these jobs, being told it’s what God wants and if I didn’t accept, my marriage and ministry would be postponed. After nearly a decade (when their mid-20’s), a couple of friends finally got their GEDs.
Why am I sharing my story? Another post by Darcy sums it up: http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-accidental-world-changers.html?m=0. Darcy says that as we found each other and told our stories we had a sense of “Me too”; we stood for each other. I wrote this to join up, to extend my hand, to say, “I  stand with my homeschool alumni cohorts.” Anne Lamott said that the most powerful sermon in the world are the words, “Me too.” That’s why I wrote this: to say, “Me too.” On my blog I tell my story, share my reflections on many issues, and invite others to be fellow pilgrims to journey through life with me.


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Christian, freethinker, believer, skeptic, seeker.

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