Podcast: Healthy, Diverse Homeschool Communities

Brave Writer Podcast

Ideally, homeschooling as a common interest should be enough to unite us and drive us forward to forge friendships with a variety of people and learn from a variety of cultures. It should, but for many, that’s not how it is.

  • How do you create a healthy, diverse homeschool culture for your local group?
  • What kinds of guidelines, policies, and practices help bridge difference within a homeschool group?

Let’s talk about the answers to those questions, as well as why homeschooling became so siloed in the first place and the benefits of a deeply diverse community.

Listen to the Podcast

Show Notes

Why is diversity in the homeschool environment considered a fraught and difficult topic?

Ideally, homeschooling as a common interest should be enough to unite us and drive us forward to forge friendships with a variety of people and learn from a variety of cultures. It should, but for many, that’s not how it is.

The formation of homeschooling is closely tied up in religion, and Christian homeschooling became the dominant voice in the space for decades. Today, with the advent of the internet, we are beginning to see siloed expressions of homeschooling around common interests or belief structures. This is also causing members of some communities to not be welcome within other spaces.

Education has the potential to introduce students to a variety of perspectives, people, religions, politics, and interpretations of history and literature. Liberal education is a buffet of diverse sources that allows us to deepen and broaden our understanding of the world. Unfortunately, because homeschooling was self-protecting in the early days, it became protection from difference rather than introduction to difference.

The fundamental misunderstanding of what education is

Education is an introduction to—shaking hands with—all different viewpoints. It is not protection from viewpoints that contradict yours. As a result of that kind of approach, some kids feel cheated, tricked, and lied to once they get out into the world. When they are confronted with those views they didn’t know existed, they are not equipped to talk about them, learn from them, think about them, or consider them.

Where we’ve gone wrong as a movement is imagining that the goal is to control the outcome of our child’s exposure in education.

There are going to be people in your co-op who think differently than you do, who vote differently than you do, who see dating differently than you do, who believe in God differently or not at all. Can we make room for those people to be in the same art class as our children? To go on a nature hike? To have conversations over lunch? This is what it means to function as a human being in society, and if homeschooling is a microcosm of society, we would be giving our children an introduction to rather than protection from.

Guilt by association

This is the fundamental flaw of these spaces that are trying to keep people out. The fallacy is that, by bringing someone in with a specific set of beliefs, that you are saying you agree with those beliefs and that will make your group look bad. But people change over their lives, and are you going to tell people that they have to fit a criteria and never change? If that is what you want, you are going to have to learn how to deal with the fractured relationships around change and growth by community members.

Children learn their beliefs and family culture at home

What are we asking our children to do in these healthy, diverse communities around homeschooling? We are asking them to learn to tolerate their own discomfort with difference. Your kids are going to say things to others that sound affronting because they believe the worldview that they’ve inherited from you is uber-logical. And within the constellation of your family’s beliefs and practices, the story you tell around your beliefs sounds rational. Every family has one of these stories, and they are all different. Giving your children the opportunity to think critically and share with them how worldviews are built is education. That’s the value set of a diverse co-op.

You do not have to be in a diverse group if you do not want to be, but if you are going to be in one—or if you are going to create one—remember that every person there has the same ability to create a logic story that supports their choices that you do. You just may not agree on the source material. The goal is to grow in your ability to tolerate your own discomfort so that you have your beliefs and ideals, but you are not a hateful person—and that’s a beautiful skill set to develop.



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