I was quite upset by the Doug Phillips speech I blogged about the other day, quite angry that this whole mess exists, that these men have successfully used a perfectly good educational method to do something quite sick and very unjust. I know I wasn’t the only one who had such a visceral reaction to seeing the curtain pulled back on something that had practically governed my life for so many years. Even though I grew up in the midst of this, it has been hard to wrap my mind around the fact that people like Doug Phillips are apparently not sincerely inclined towards homeschooling or Christianity at all but saw both as opportunities to form what seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a patriarchy-worshipping cult where they can grow rich and powerful in the process.
Today Doug Phillips and Michael Farris and Bill Gothard may have money and power and public speaking roles today but they came at a price. Not a price that they are paying, but a price that homeschoolers themselves pay, a price that society in general pays. The price is certainly too steep and the product is downright toxic. These snake oil salesmen are able to get rich, buy themselves mansions, peddle their books and self-made video series’ on how to live life, have Fox News grant them and their ilk interviews where they can bloviate about their pet causes and fears (because obviously admitting a Quiverfull family from a developed country here on asylum because they fear witchcraft in public school is such a desirable immigration precedent to set). This all happens while we get forgotten and live with the fallout of their power trip in our everyday, ordinary lives. Supervillains indeed.
This toxic ideology hurt me, personally. I still struggle with PTSD-related triggers, with certain things in life that might be enjoyable or at least tolerable to most people who didn’t have these experiences being unenjoyable to downright upsetting to me. This stuff hurt my family, my siblings. Even my parents were victims of it too, infected by this stuff at the tender age of 19 and 21. Like so many, they then became like the jailers in the Stanford Prison Experiment, their own mini-cult. It hurt a lot of other families in similar ways, particularly vulnerable and idealistic ones like mine that didn’t have the sense of perspective to drop it and get out. Such situations even helped permanently injure or kill some of these kids.
I wanted to throw up thinking about it all, honestly. It just made my heart sad and my head hurt. So I took some down time. I had a beer and a nap and I listened to a Canadian astronaut with a mustache sing a David Bowie song in space. After that I was a little calmer and I knew what to do.
What we need to do is fix this. We need to make homeschooling better, we need to make society better. We need to recognize and purge the kind of toxic cultish ideology that Doug Phillips has endorsed and disseminated, get it out of our homes and workplaces and communities, and we need to be vigilant that once we do so it does not return.
Today I want to talk about solutions and I want to ask about solutions. After reading Doug Phillips’ speech and dealing with all these horrific abuse cases, I also want something happy and positive to blog about in the homeschooling world. I figure there are few things more positive in a dark event than, as Mr. Rogers said “looking for the helpers.”
So I got an idea that came from another difficult experience I had. In 2005 my apartment and my family’s home flooded in hurricane Katrina. I got four feet of water. My Mom’s house got six. It was all pretty awful and the repair and recovery dragged on for months, but as we cleaned up, we didn’t have to go it alone. We had church groups (they were the first responders of the first responders), the Red Cross, and the National Guard all there to help us. So maybe we need some first responders to this disastrous mess (more like a sneak terroristic attack, really) that is now being uncovered in homeschooling.
Here are the four types of homeschool problems that are actively being perpetuated by “leaders” like Doug Phillips and that we must address:
– Controlling patriarchal behavior
– Indoctrination and low quality educational practices and materials
– Child abuse and neglect
– Gender discrimination
This post is Part 1, an introduction to a 5-part series on repairing the damage caused by these Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy ideologies within homeschooling. Part 2 will cover a few things that I think can be done inside the homeschooling world to help clean up this mess; Part 3 will address other things that I think can be done outside of it, in mainstream society; and Part 4 will address what I think smarter regulations would look like.
I am also trying something new, making this an interactive series with a built in twitter hashtag to go along with it. I figure that if blogging is the “female sin of the Internet,” and according to Doug Phillips comparable to the “sin of pornography” for men, lets go full Monty on this.
Suggestions made in the comments sections of any of these series of posts (or sent in by email, for you shy people with long lists of ideas) and anything posted under the hashtag #HealHomeschooling will make up the content of Part 5. Anyway, so if you have an idea already, please drop it in the comments section or tweet it. I will be tweeting ideas as they come to my mind as well.
Also, fellow bloggers, if you’d like to join in on this project and do your own version of this, I will include the links to the posts you do in Part 5 and we can arrange to cross-post it. If you have questions, email me: becomingworldly (at) gmail (dot) com.