Not only was I homeschooled, I was homeschooled in 1987, when pretty much the only people who homeschooled also had an action plan for the Rapture. This is the story of how I became a dirty liberal womanist heathen.
I did not attend school in my living room because my parents were afraid I wasn’t getting enough Jesus at the local public school. I was sick a lot, and I missed quite a bit of school. I was keeping up with my classes, but there was drama, and threats of failing, so my parents looked for another school. Private school wasn’t in the budget, so my parents talked to some people at church who were homeschooling their kids. And my high school education was born.
Nowadays, there are a gajillion (est.) curriculum options for parents who want to teach their kids at home, covering all sorts of beliefs and methodologies. In 1987, there was not this selection. The only curriculum the parents could find was from a ultra-fundamentalist offshoot of Bob Jones University. They both worked, so I did school assignments while they were at work. I was a pretty sharp kid, so I could read enough to get the gist of most subjects, except math.
Were it not for my library card and modicum of intellectual curiosity, I would have graduated from high school without knowing a lick of biology and believing Christopher Columbus was on a mission from God to create America, instead of an arrogant dumbass with a bad sense of direction. My 11th grade history text book had a three page section on why secular music made people have premarital sex. (It’s the beat; the only music with a beat that matches a human heartbeat is of God. All the rest makes us fornicate and blaspheme. US History and God’s Plan for America tells us so.)
I was a skeptical little Baptist well before high school, but I played along, because I still wanted As and also to go to a good college that wasn’t Bob Jones University. I got the As, and into a college that wasn’t Bob Jones University, but I was completely and utterly unprepared for it academically. I read all the time, about all sorts of different things, so I could keep up in any class that didn’t require me to 1. know math beyond the basics or 2. know anything about science. (“Cells are made of God’s love!” wouldn’t fly at the college level.) I managed to get out of college without getting better at either of them, which I’ll admit gives me pause. Now I have a Master’s degree and I’m still secretly ashamed that I have no idea how to solve a two-variable equation or what the words sine and cosine mean. I’m proud to say I know more about science, but just enough to know I should keep my mouth shut and learn when other people are talking about science.
Aside from a somewhat shoddy education, being homeschooled had benefits. I’m great at working alone, I have great time-management skills, I can research the shit out of anything, I can spot manipulative bullshit from 20 paces and I can recite all the bible versus that support the theory that Jesus was way more open-minded than a lot of the people who do horrible things in his name. Teaching myself made me a better teacher when I went into the field, and it made me respect and want to fight for our public schools.
I was weird before, during and after I was homeschooled, so I can’t speak as to whether or not it made me a social outcast. That ship was already sailing. I always had friends, and I did plenty of extra-curricular things and group activities. I made friends quickly in college, and I’m still close with several of them.
I’m fairly sure I would have still become the dirty liberal womanist heathen I am today if I hadn’t taken the path I did, and I may have gotten here sooner. I like to think being immersed in the Southern Baptist worldview for four years make my convictions a little stronger than they would have been otherwise.
I still wish I knew more math.