As homeschooling grows more and more popular with the religious crowd, an unexpected demographic is also taking part in the alternative education of their children. Unbelievers.
The Religion News Service filed a story today about one Humanists foray into the homeschooling scene. KellyAnne Kitchin has been homeschooling her three sons for the past three years, and has stated that the first hurdle she had to overcome was finding curriculum.
A vast, vast majority of home school curriculum is religion-based, and either very weak on the sciences, or contains non-science education in it's place, such as creationism or intelligent design.
She then described how finding support among other homeschooling parents to be wanting, as most of the internet forums are chock full of believers, or had statements of faith that needed to be duly checked off before being allowed to participate.
Kitchen decided the best thing for her to do is to start her own community. Kitchen stated,
“I found out there were a lot of people who were in the same boat I was in and did not know how to come out and have a community. I am hoping we come up with a big place and have some resources and some support.”
According to a report from The National Center for Educational Studies, the number of homeschoolers rose from 850,000 to 1.5 million in under ten years, and while there are no definitive numbers revealing how many of those are secular, their numbers are likely growing at a proportional rate.
The story cites commentary from another secular homeschool parent, Ute Mitchell, who has been homeschooling her three children for the past seven years. Mitchell stated,
“With schools now there is so much pressure to perform. They are teaching to the tests, there is the bullying and drugs and the guns. It is kind of endless. Home schooling seemed like a no-brainer to us.”
Mitchell founded a group called 'Village Home' in the Portland, Oregon, area, which has swelled to about 450 families and holds some classes in, ironically, a local church building. However, not all of those families are unbelievers. Their membership includes Christians, Muslims and Jews, but all are committed to a secular education.
Kitchen, Mitchell and many others are of the mindset that offering an alternative to public school education doesn't have to be religious, but does offer options that cannot be had only in the setting that homeschooling provides.