Monoculture – how do I define diversity?

Monocultures don’t exist in nature.

Last week, my kids tramped through the freshly blooming trails around Lake Arrowhead conversing with the guide about animal trails, searching for hollows in trees, and teasing one of their friends about falling into the snake holes.  They’ve joined a Texas Junior Master Naturalist class arranged during morning hours for homeschoolers.  The guide was describing a small clump of plant and insect life interacting when she made that statement which caught my attention.

Monocultures don’t exist in nature.

She was explaining how different species both support each other and also keep each other in balance.  (Strains of Lion King’s Circle of Life ran through my head…I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop them!)

But her statement sent my mind meandering down a different path.  Homeschoolers are often accused of trying to create monocultures for their families, for sheltering their children from anyone who thinks, acts or looks different from them.

Just how different does someone have to be in order to be of a different “culture” and help keep us in balance?  Does putting my kids under the tutelage of a woman who adores science and nature count as a different “culture”?  Clearly, she’s providing some balance to my weak area.  What about encouraging my previously uncoordinated child to play tennis and volleyball?  That’s adding balance to his weakness.

The group of kids standing around the guide were all homeschoolers whose families profess some form of Christianity.  Does that make us a monoculture?

Some of the kids have different skin colors – a testament to their ethnic background.  Does that alone make us diverse?

One boy there had been born in Germany and raised in Europe by military parents, returning to his “home” country of America only last year.  Sure he looks just like us, but he was raised on a different continent.  His experiences are probably much more distant from ours than the dark skinned girl who grew up in our hometown.  Does that make him diverse?

My kids’ friends from church and the community theatre attend public schools.  Is that diverse?

I once read an article which contended earnestly that all textbooks sold to homeschoolers be required to include information about a list of minorities which he deemed important for diversity.  I laughed at the very notion we could achieve “diversity” by forcing everyone to read the same information.  Apparently the irony was lost on him.  Besides, his list of minorities didn’t include interacting with Native Americans and studying their culture and history or immersing oneself in the study of ancient cultures (two things my own children spent massive amounts of time doing).  Who decides which diversity is best?

I don’t have answers.  I just ask the questions.  Time will tell how successful the culture is that we have created.

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