Monday, July 12, 2010

Pagan Boarding School?

This post is about the prospect of a Pagan boarding school (grades 6 or 9-12), so if this is in the wrong part of the board, please do feel free to move it to the proper place. Smiley

How many Pagan American citizens are there? According to

"Pagans estimate themselves to be between 768,000 and one million practitioners in the United States. A poll conducted by the Covenant of the Goddess, a national organization, estimates 768,400 Witches and Pagans in the U.S. The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance suggest a 50% margin of error for all of the widely varying estimates on the number of Pagans. The estimates do not capture the much larger population that is interested in Paganism, as evidenced by the book buying audience and presence and activity on the web."

Perhaps if the US Census did not send out a survey asking about the religious preference of American citizens to only 1 in 100 Americans, and actually asked this on the Census, we might have a more accurate number; I bring this up only because if that is the case, and the US population is an estimated 300 million (and probably growing), it is a statistical miracle that I meet so many of them, is it not? Yet, still, 768,000 is arelatively large number of people.

I have been told many stories of the horrors of public school attendees who are Pagan, and have read of Pagan discrimination in public schools.
Personally, I have experienced the following when I was in middle school and high school:

-Called names.
-Had a temporary grade reduction in choir for refusing to sing Christian songs.
-Had objects thrown at me by a crowd of students who were making fun of me, then made fun of me because I cried.
-A teacher made me sit in the front seat of a bus while on a 4/5 hour ride because other students had asked me about spirits, I answered, and another student complained about what I was talking about.
-Close friends of mine were told they could not hang around or talk to me because of my religion.

In a country where religious freedom is a right, it seems as if not everyone is, "on-board," and persecution is the norm, especially against a religion in which there is an estimated 768,000 practitioners.

Teasing is pretty normal in middle and high school, but should such a high degree of teasing normal or healthy? School is a stretched and a bit distorted version of adult social life, in my opinion, and socialization among one's peers is very important in a person's development. However, being Pagan is NOT a bad hair-cut or an ugly pair of glasses, and allowing students, teachers, and school administrators to exercise prejudice against a student for their religious beliefs because it may seem ridiculous and not compatible with the majority of the population is (again, in my opinion) potentially unhealthy. If you grow up in a relatively functional and happy household, why be exposed to such conditions and end up with issues because of prejudice teasing?

It doesn't seem to me that many Christians grow in the same school environment. As a matter of fact, there are many Christian private day and boarding schools around. Students and parents probably have many different reasons for attending these schools (or, having their child/ren attend), some good, some...questionable. What is not questionable is the success of Christian schools, at least in the realm of longevity and attendance.

Have any of you noticed the, of course purely observational unrelated correlation between low academic achievement and subscribers to the Pagan religion? Please don't get angry, and no, I don't know if I can back that observation up with statistics, but I have seen this correlation in the last few years. There is the issue of personal responsibility, but let's just focus on natural reaction. What if this is because these people relate their experience in academia with personal torture, and eventually drop out of school or have no desire to continue on to college, or the amount of depression and anxiety they have causes their grades to fall and they cannot get accepted into college? I have met another Pagan one year in graduate school, but they're tough to come by. Sometimes, the parents don't help this cause either, of course, not through lack of care, but lack of common sense. I know of a woman (I believe she is a high school drop-out) who took her children out of school because of the bad social experience her children have had, and is now, "home schooling." How do you teach your children subjects that you haven't learned yourself? How are you getting a taste of the real world if there are no other peers around at all?

I've brought up a few topics in this post to try to support the main idea of this post: a Pagan private day and/or boarding school. This way, socialization is possible with many different types of people who just happen to share a common belief system for which they may be subject to persecution in a public school. In my opinion, a school of this nature could focus on rigorous academics tailored to each student's potential, prepare students for first tier universities, and also have compulsory classes in Paganism, spanning different pantheons and standard methods of spell casting, learning the history and components of practice and belief. There could be performing arts and sports programs, holidays off from class with celebration, and lots of fun for students.
Why boarding? That way children can attend whether they live close to the school or not. Also, boarding schools can sometimes be an ideal environment for academic focus.

Any thoughts? Would you send your child to such a private school? Do you think this can be done?

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