For those of us who have never dipped a toe into the world of "homeschooling," it carries a certain mystique.
We might envision a family alternating between algebra and Bible study, keeping a safe distance from the rampant worldliness in schools. Or perhaps we feel a twinge of jealousy as we compare our own childhood - crammed into a row of desks - with that of homeschooled children who sail to exotic lands for real-life geography lessons.
When Amanda Paulson delved into the subject for today's Learning section, her starting point was curiosity about alternative forms of education.
She thought she'd discover the challenges of "coming up with a curriculum and teaching it at home." Soon, she says, "I had to change my whole mental construct of what homeschooling was."
One big surprise: In this movement, parents aren't the only teachers. "There are all these resources in the community," she says. "I was amazed to find how many libraries and museums and colleges target things specifically at homeschoolers."
Amanda also had to exercise diplomatic skills when she realized how high tensions can run between various groups that claim to be the voice of homeschooling.
Each family that decides to homeschool, or even "unschool," has its own motives. But as Amanda sat in people's dining rooms, followed them to fencing class, and checked in at one of a growing number of homeschool resource centers, the many different voices added up to a theme: Homeschooling is one way for close families to live their values, religiously based or not.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society