KINGSTON, Ontario –Any Pagan or polytheist who opts to home-school children quickly discovers that much of the support material available is explicitly Christian in character. That can make an already difficult task all the more challenging. This is the struggle that inspired Terri Wilson to step up Little Pagan Acorns, a site with materials Pagan parents can use in their home schools.
Wilson, who describes herself as “an Earth-centered, Goddess-worshiping eclectic Pagan,” home-schools her own 12-year-old daughter, and has created materials that she uses herself. She spoke with us about how she got her own home school started, and why she has chosen to develop materials for others.
The Wild Hunt: What’s your interest in home-schooling? Do you have an education background, or did you learn as you go, as many parents do?
Terri Wilson: I first got interested in home-schooling when I saw the very weak curriculum that my daughter was dealing with at public school. A lot of fill-in-the-blank work, and no spelling or reading. Science was sporadic at best, and didn’t go too far beyond a handful of new vocabulary words each unit. I wanted her to have a more solid and engaging education.
No specific training on my part, though I did go on to post-secondary education myself and consider myself to be somewhat “academic.” I am learning as I go, which is pretty normal in the home-schooling world.
TWH: Why did you decide to put together home-school activities with a Pagan emphasis? Is it common for home-school resources to include a religious component?
TW: The home-schooling world is predominantly Christian without a doubt, with many people specifically choosing to home-school because they want to teach a Bible-based format rather than the secular material you see in school. It’s the whole reason they home-school. And so, most of the big curriculum packages are Christian. Some just include references here and there, and some are truly Bible-centered (like science that literally teaches a seven-day creation as “fact”).Problem is that these are often weak on real science and facts, not to mention the moral conflicts a lot of non-Christians come across. History materials are also suspect because they use Bible tales as historical events, whether they happened or not.
This is what I was finding as I looked for resources. It was a struggle enough just to find good secular material, but Pagan material was absolutely nonexistent. Part of me just wanted to thumb my nose to the Christian-heavy home-school world, but I genuinely saw a need for it.
TWH: What are some of the most popular offerings you’ve got on your site?
TW: The sabbat pages are always popular at their times of the year, but it’s hard to say that anything is more popular than anything else. The Norse crosswords and the Greek mythology lap books are my top pages right now, and as a category, the coloring pages do very well.
TWH: What are some of the most-requested resources?
TW: I don’t get a lot of requests actually. Sometimes people will want more preschool stuff but then someone else wants more for older kids. Nothing specifically is requested enough to stand out. Oh, sometimes different Pagan traditions are asked for as well. I am looking at adding more Native American material at the moment.
TWH: It appears that you offer a lot more for free than you do for sale. How do you support this effort?
TW: The main source of revenue is through ads, but even that is just a token amount that pays for the domain and space. That’s about it. I’ve expanded out into another site that will focus on larger projects and publications for sale.
TWH: Do you have any other people helping you with this work?
TW: Nope, it’s just me. Some times I get my daughter to give puzzles or coloring pages a test run.TWH: Do you think it’s more important to provide tools to help instruct one’s children in their Pagan faith, or broader educational materials that help them see the world in a Pagan context? “Blessed Be A to Z” appears to fall into the latter category, and the kids’ tarot guide the former.
TW: That’s a big question, and one that I often see when talking to followers about what they are interested in. There is a clear divide between teaching actual Pagan topics and teaching broader subjects with a Pagan point of view. Which is more important? I’m not sure there is an answer.
I would say that teaching Pagan materials themselves should come first so that a child has the background or framework to understand a Pagan viewpoint. But that may be splitting hairs a bit, too.
TWH: More generally, is home-schooling a way to tackle challenging issues that can intersect with Pagan theologies, such as gender dysphoria, environmental stewardship, and cultural appropriation?
TW: I think so. I mean, these topics may be found in mainstream public school but not very often, nor very well done. That’s the great thing about home-schooling is that you can tackle any issue from any perspective. These are fairly complex and sophisticated subjects and quite contemporary as well. That can make it difficult to find materials for home-schoolers. More and more people are asking for them, and you can find the books/videos if you look. New material is being published all the time.
* * *As for the material published for Little Pagan Acorns, the variety is wide. Wilson has produced a number of “pantheon packs” of puzzles and games; thus far they include Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and Hindu. The Native American material she referenced in the interview is likely to her biggest project yet.
“That is such a huge and varied area that I’m not quite ready for it,” she wrote in April, indicating a desire to avoid the oversimplification which often plagues interpretations of those cultures.
That same sensibility is shown in a post announcing her Celtic deity coloring pages: “Though I am naming this batch ‘Celtic,’ I have made a bit of a mix of Irish, British, Gaulish, and other similar regions here.”
The Celtic pages are among a broad category of printable materials which also include calendar pages and tarot cards. Some are available free, while others, such as the tarot decks, have a nominal charge.
Kids can also color common Pagan symbols online using the free tools on the site.
The Christian influence found in homeschooling materials is not likely to disappear any time soon or perhaps ever. For those who want to home school and desire alternatives more appropriate for Pagan and polytheist children, Little Pagan Acorns can be used as a place to find resources and seeds of inspiration.
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The work of journalist Terence P. Ward was made possible by the generous underwriting donation from Hecate Demeter, writer, ecofeminist, witch and Priestess of the Great Mother Earth.