What a weekend! It is difficult to capture in words the energy, passion, and level of commitment to secular academic homeschooling I found at the National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (NASH) Conference. This is the fourth conference I spoke at this summer. Each has been special, and I was honored to be chosen to speak at all four. I want to thank every person who listened to me speak. Thank you so much for letting me participate a little bit in your journey as you wend your way through the homeschooling years.
I did not go to the NASH conference just to speak and meet super cool homeschoolers! I am the Secular Alliances Manager for NASH, so I went to sit in board meetings too. The Secular Alliances Manager heads the Secular Alliances Committee, a five person committee of talented people as committed to these issues as I am.
I am a passionate advocate for homeschooling. I celebrate the differences in the methods we homeschoolers use to educate our children. For those of us who use programs and curricula, I want there to be programs and curricula we can trust to give our kids a good education, materials we homeschoolers can use that fit our unique educational needs while still handcrafting our child’s education.
As most of you know, I am dedicated to the development of academic curricula and programs for the homeschool community. It is important to me that these materials be intellectually honest about the foundational fundamentals and core knowledge of academic disciplines. In other words, the curricula and programs should cover the basics of each discipline as would be recommended by a majority of practicing experts in that academic field. I think there needs to be a set of standards and guidelines for what constitutes secular material. Something all homeschooling parents can refer to when choosing materials.
My commitment to these two issues led me to volunteer time, which I do not have, to agree to be a part of the Secular Alliances Committee. I am going to have to give up reading paranormal fantasy for the next year after all :-(. As a part of the Secular Alliances committee I hope to be able to affect positive change in a meaningful way for our homeschool community. That sounds so nerdy, doesn’t it? I am pretty sure I do not come off as a big nerd in person. LOL! I really am one though.
The NASH Secular Alliance Committee has several goals:
- Our first goal is to write a set of definitions for each discipline about what constitutes secular curricula for that discipline. Will these definitions be written in such a way that they will lead to the exclusion of Christian companies that write and develop secular curricula? Absolutely not! Will these definitions be written in such a way that they will lead to the exclusion of incomplete curricula that muddies the importance of the facts that are foundational fundamentals of disciplines? Absolutely yes!
- Once our team has working definitions, we will develop a series of guidelines (standards) that serve as a sort of checklist to help our committee evaluate curricula and programs so that we can develop a database for homeschoolers who want secular curricula and programs. Once these guidelines are approved by the NASH board these will be available on the NASH Website.
- The committee will create a database. This database will only include curricula and programs that are secular. Every item on the database will be vetted by members of the committee. Only items that meet the established guidelines set by the committee will be on the database. If something meets the committee’s approval, its name will be put in the database. We will not give a recommendation about the quality of the product other than to state if it is secular, but we will give a small amount of space for the developers to tell about their product. If something is not on the database it either didn’t meet the guidelines or has not yet been reviewed.
- One of our primary goals with this is to advocate the development of more products that meet the intellectual integrity we feel all academic products should meet. These guidelines will help people who want to develop secular programs and curricula for this fast growing group of homeschoolers.
The Secular Alliances Committee is only a small part of the NASH vision. For more information about the larger NASH vision check out their website at http://www.nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.com/