Homeschool Leader Moving On to Greener Pastures

Cross-posted on Home Education Magazine News & Commentary

Homeschoolers tend to have much in common that few understand.  The joy and rhythm of days living and learning at home with your children is hard to explain to many.  So, it’s unsettling to see a respected homeschool mentor leave the homeschool conference circuit. Even worse are the attacks against her are she isn’t “Christian enough” or “too Christian”.  This is nothing new in the opinionated and sundry homeschool community.  It's just unfortunate.

The Wise and Bauer homeschool families are spotlighted in the Washington Post Magazine as Homeschooling Trailblazers. The article Home-schooling pioneer Susan Wise Bauer is well-versed in controversy provides some history of well regarded homeschool pioneers.

There are three generations of homeschoolers in Susan Wise Bauer's home, and her mother, Jessie, helps out with the her grandchildren's education. Jessie homeschooled her children in the '70s at their Peace Hill Farm.  In 1999, Susan and Jessie co-wrote “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home”.

This account below from the Washington Post article hits home in a most negative way.

Bauer has been a fixture behind the lectern at state and national home-schooling conferences for years. But this past spring, she announced she would sit out the conferences next year because of rifts in this once seemingly monolithic movement.

“For a number of people involved in it, their primary focus is not educating kids but a lifestyle,” she says. Whereas early home-schoolers were a freewheeling bunch forced to stick together against a hostile world because of their aversion to public schools, now it seems as if there are litmus tests for acceptance into the community.

For example, she says, Peace Hill Press came under fire from home-schooling creationists — at conferences, on the Internet and via e-mail — for publishing the work of scholar Peter Enns, who argues against a strict literal reading of the Book of Genesis.

Bauer has been asked “to swear I won’t bring certain books for my book table; to mention certain words,” she wrote on her blog in April. “None of which, I should say, have anything to do with what I normally talk about: grammar, history, writing, reading, learning. I have been told that I am not welcome, in some cases, because I talk too much about the psychology of learning, and not about the Bible. Or because I have a theological degree and am obviously pushing a Christian agenda. Because my ‘professional associations,’ however loose, are too liberal, or too secular, or too Christian.”

I did cringe at the reporter's notion homeschooling was started as a "mostly religious fringe activity” that turned chic.  Homeschooling my kids never felt chic, for goodness sake.   John Holt was out there with the unschooling concept in the '70s, even as there were "religious" folks homeschooling too.  The modern homeschooling movement was diverse from the start.

The Wise/Bauer family team has been personally successful, along with their business.  Their accomplishments help many children learn in an engaging manner. Public and private schools, along with non-homeschooling families also use their curriculum.  The Story of the World series has a spot in our public libraries here, often with a waiting list for checkout.  I have friends who deeply appreciated Susan Wise Bauer's thoughts and insights at conferences.Disclaimer –  The Story of the World is on my bookshelf and my boys loved it.  That's it.  No money exchanged.

It's wonderful Virginian Susan Bauer will be starting up a new endeavor helping out would-be farmers learn the trade and the land.  It's a shame she was bullied into this by restrictive world-views.  Despite this black spot, families interested in education can hopefully continue to benefit from Bauer's present contributions and possibly, future ones.

ht to Homeschool Buzz


Homeschool Leader Moving On to Greener Pastures — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Homeschool Leader Moving On to Greener Pastures | Homeschool Politics Blog

  2. Pingback: Carnival of Homeschooling: Keeping it Light | Homeschool Bytes

  3. What an interesting post, Susan! I'm not surprised by Mrs. Bauer's experience. In fact, I've been told that the reason a certain state's (ahem) homeschooling organization wouldn't respond to our queries re: a vendor booth was because my book Life Prep promotes independence for young women as well as young men. But I sure wish the WaPo hadn't got ahold of this story because they just love giving Christians a black eye anyway they can   :0

    I found Mrs. Bauer's future plans interesting, too. As a recently retired homeschool mom, I'm still praying about my future and what to do next!

  4. Barbara, I was thinking the same thing about the Washington Post. Their Education columnist, Jay Mathews, seems to appreciate homeschooling, but thinks we all need to have just a lil bit of accountability.  

    But back to that article and her blog, it sounds like SWB is taking a respite to set up her B and B AND that maybe she'll come back.  I hope it's a more welcoming convention community then.  I've not been a big convention person, as it seems overwhelming to me (and my pocketbook).  

    The comments on the IL Homeschool PAC FB page about this issue are revealing.  

    I'm ready to start a truck farm with organic goods here.  But all my good help left….lol.


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