While What to Tell the Neighbors was still in the conceptual stage, I wondered if it might be problematic to focus on both unschooling and atheism. After all, not all unschoolers are atheists, and certainly most atheists are not unschoolers.
Yet for me the two are linked in some important ways.
First, both unschooling and atheism are significant departures from the typical, not only here in western Kentucky, but in most parts of the United States. Unschooling atheist families may be viewed as doubly odd and thus must be extra thick-skinned when facing criticism. Often, they must make a concerted effort to find the support they need to sustain them. Blogs can be an important part of that support--both for writers and readers!
Second, successful unschooling (generally defined as an approach to homeschooling in which children learn without pre-designed curricula, grading, standardized tests, and other conventions of traditional schooling) requires parents who are convinced that children learn better from love than from fear, from being allowed to explore than from being forced, and from formulating questions than from memorizing someone else's answers. Thus, unschoolers tend to be people whose worldview is not fundamentalist anything. While not all of the unschoolers I've encountered identify as atheist, many do identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, skeptic, etc.
A few months ago, I "met" (in that virtual Facebook way) a young woman who is both an atheist and a grown homeschooler. Her name is Amanda Scott, she is nineteen years old, and she never fails to dazzle me with her knowledge of constitutional law. In addition to being an active participant on the Freedom from Religion Foundation's Facebook page, Amanda is the administrator of a Facebook Group called "The Wall of Separation," which is a great source of information on Supreme Court jurisprudence related to the First Amendment. I thought it would be interesting to interview Amanda to see how her experiences learning outside of a traditional school environment influenced her atheism, and vice versa. Amanda agreed to the interview, which will be appearing soon as my next post. If you are an unschooling or homeschooling parent who is raising your child without religion, you won't want to miss this one.