and unschooling

In a discussion in which a very religious mom wrote that she would someday help her daughter navigate her beliefs, I wrote
What she believes won't be something that needs to be navigated. It will evolve as people answer her questions, and she sees and thinks and asks more questions.
and someone sent this note:
Sandra, if you have a religion or beliefs page, I think this is very worthy of being added. I can think of multiple folks I'd like to forward it to!
and that is why this page was created. There might be more to add as the months and years pass.

This topic is too big for a page, but I was asked to save a few things and I will. This can't be an overview of everything ever said about religion and unschooling, but it can be a place to jump out into the internet and the world for those who want their children to know more (or less) about other religions. It's a place to come and think for a bit about what religion is.

Under the assumption that everyone believes in God and an afterlife, religion is a question of which god one follows.

I like to think of religion in anthropological terms, as a part of cultures that stretches back to prehistory, that affects the way a culture sees things like birth and death. In western culture, especially since the various Protestant movements of the 16th and 17th centuries, Christianity has developed a wide range of options, and not participating is an option where it once was not. When Jews were rearranged after WWII and New York City and Israel filled up with people from different traditions and beliefs, there came to be more pick-and-choose among Jews, too, with more Reform congregations, and options for secular Jews to take up traditional practices that had been lost in their own families.

In the 1960's, Hinduism was all the rage for a while. Buddhism has become one of the menu items when people chose their own religions. Many American Buddhist leaders were born Jewish, and practice it as a spiritual practice that doesn't clash with their religion.

The news is filled these days (2008 as I'm writing) with details of differences between Islamic sects.

We're way past the point of simple answers about religion.

How can unschoolers deal with strongly held religious beliefs? How can unschoolers help children learn about others' beliefs?

Kathryn Baptista, an unschooling mom, gave a sermon at her church called The Lighting of a Fire: Lifelong Learning as a Spiritual Practice, and you can click there for her notes. She used a set of Thinking Sticks I had made. (You can make your own; directions are there, if you want.)

In a discussion in 2011, on facebook, Cathy Koetsier wrote:
I thought that what you said here was very important Sandra:
There are vegetarians who are unschoolers and that's fine, but I don't hear them saying you can't have one without the other. It wouldn't even make sense. Same with any religion, or politics. You CAN be an unschoolers and Republican. You CAN be an unschooler and a Sikh. But never in any case should the unschooling be confused with or tied up in the other beliefs.
I have just been part of a debate on unschooling on a South African discussion list, and some people there asked the old question - Can you be a (practising) Christian and unschool...

Answer — as we know — is 'of course you can', and quite a few of us were happy to explain how and why. I was very excited about this, because in 2001, when I began unschooling in South Africa, I couldn't find anyone — other than the Van Oostrums — who were willing to consider unschooling as a possibility for any child, let alone Christians!!!

The challenge lies in working out how best to join two ideas in a way that (hopefully) doesn't dilute either. And it becomes impossible to do this well if you confuse things by making the two ideas one idea.

I think unschooling looks different in every family, because every family is different, not because unschooling is different. And it will look different depending on the context or the belief or the tradition. The differences, upon closer inspection, are more to do with that context/belief/tradition. But unschooling is unschooling.

That was a comment on my facebook page, when I reported having been thrown out of a group called The Unschooling Experience (it's not there anymore), for questioning the focus on "channeling ancient wisdom" and such.

"Holly and the Bible" (published a few places, once as "A Fascination with Religion") is about Holly Dodd's lifelong interest in religion.

" is a growing collection of over 43,870 adherent statistics and religious geography citations: references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc. The religions of the world are enumerated here."

emiLy, mom to Delia (5) & Henry (1.5) wrote:

Last night, we were playing Guitar Hero II for Wii and there are a bunch of short intro movies at the very beginning before the game even starts. I always skip past them, but my daughter likes watching them. There's one of a guy on top of a bunch of rubble and a giant mountain rocking out on a guitar and she said "That's God" My husband and I were so stunned I think we just looked at each other and said "uuh" or something like that. And she said again "Yeah, that's God!" I love it - can't wait to see culture 40 years from now. :) No more Virgin Marys on the side of buildings or on sandwiches - He is showing himself in video games!

There are some religious links (older now; antique) on the unschooling contacts page here:

What about just NOT believing in God? Quotes and thoughts about atheism.

An account of my own personal early religious growth and changes:
Theology (almost)