I’ve been told on multiple occasions by other programmers that “you don’t need math to program”. This is often said by people who actually learned math – or at the very least more math than I did. While I understand what they’re thinking (“the computer does the math for you”), they have a skillset that someone like me, someone who barely made it to negative numbers before being given up on, doesn’t have.
The educational neglect I suffered because of religious and patriarchal ideals is no secret. Despite how many times I’ve heard “you’ll never use algebra every day” the skills I lack because I wasn’t taught math is overwhelming and painful. I hit a cap in my ability to learn programming because I was missing the math skills. Not arithmetic specifically, but problem solving: being able to look at a problem and creatively come up with a solution.
At it’s core, that’s what math is, and that’s exactly what programming is. In the three weeks that I’ve been taking math – even though I’m just re-learning basic things – my ability to learn programming languages has drastically improved.
Math is a set of variables and functions just like programming languages are. They can mean and do different things depending on the context and which modifier is called. I knew my problem was math because I couldn’t figure out how to even approach complex problems in programming after there were several different variables and methods called. I didn’t have the ability to look at what I needed to do and figure out a way to get there.
Essentially, I couldn’t solve for x. I’m not even at algebra yet, but just approaching numbers as variables in math has made it so much easier to code. The invisible problem solving skills that math gives you aren’t meant to be looked over, neglected, or treated as unimportant. You may not solve an algebraic equation on a whiteboard every day, but if you’re programming, you’re problem solving, and math is where that skill is at.
Math, as a person who was denied it – as a person whose education was abruptly ended for them before they turned 16 – is so vitally important in ways that people who had the opportunity to learn (and even hate) math don’t understand. My math education stopped at pre-algebra and prior to that was largely substituted for cooking for 8 people multiple times a day. My lack of math was the reason I wasn’t able to teach myself Chemistry II (which I was really looking forward to), it’s kept me from improving professionally, and who knows how many doors have been kept shut because I wasn’t considered to have a reason to learn math.
If you want to be helpful don’t tell me that I don’t need math in order to be better at programming, because I do. I can see everyone else using math, oh so clearly, when they don’t realize it. Because at it’s core, programming is just fancy math doing stuff in a creative way.
Today, No Longer Quivering published a 2016 housekeeping post where they noted that they changed their focus in 2015 (which is true) to be on the mothers leaving the QF movement and as a part of that they decided to remove the voices of the adult children from their website.
Those of us alumni who are queer and grew up in toxic environments similar to the Duggars started posting, alerting people to the danger it puts the children at home in. Christian Patriarchy, Quiverful, and ATI parents shun even the appearance of evil, and if word gets to them that someone on the internet (or anywhere) thinks their child is gay, it’s going to make life hell for that child, or worse. Queer kids living at home are already at a higher risk of abuse, homelessness, and suicide even outside of conservative families. They last thing we need is for people posting wildly in a comment section about the sexuality of children in the public eye, in a toxic environment they did not choose, who will be the ones to pay the price if or when this gets back to them.
As a result, those of us who are queer or allies in the comments section calling out these people were harassed, stalked, and told in not so many ways to shut the fuck up and let the adults have their fun. Caring about children in the same situation we were apparently means we’re bitter and have more recovering to do.
Meanwhile, Vyckie, who decided to let this go on, eventually started liking the comments that were clearly cruel and abusive to the queer survivors of this environment and later made another public post about how she isn’t responsible for anything that happens on her Facebook wall, even though she made the choice to allow this behavior and start off with a public post that everyone in the world can see.
I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with Vyckie in the years since I wrote for her, but this was the last straw. In the last couple days she has made it abundantly clear that her only concern is not for healing and safety of all who are escaping toxic christianity and the quiverful movement, but merely the adults and militant atheists who agree with her and enjoy making the children of the movement into a side show.
I wrote to Vyckie and Suzanne on the first day to have my posts taken down. Others soon followed suit and are continuing to do so – including Love Joy Feminism, and Homeschooler’s Anonymous. While NLQ is attempting to take credit for the elimination of alumni voices on their website, I thought it was pertinent to post the real reason for the removal.
This wasn’t NLQ’s doing, it was ours. We’re tired of being used by a woman who chose the quiverful lifestyle to garner a following and fame while patting herself on the back and putting kids still at home at risk.
Monday was my first day of classes. First time in a classroom with a teacher qualified to teach instead of in a church with a parent armed with a teacher’s guide and too much confidence.
I was overwhelmed and almost cried a couple of times – in a good way. My teacher really wants us to ask questions, creates an environment safe for interacting and won’t teach a subject she doesn’t know. It was so refreshing and scary at the same time. I’ve never been in an actual classroom, I am still not used to raising my hand, but I’m learning a lot. I was really quiet the first day, but the second day I started being more vocal and talking more and felt a lot more confident and safe and less overwhelmed than the day before.
Wednesdays are computer labs, so I’m looking forward to that.
She explained the number line works with negative numbers and it blew my mind.
I think I might have made a friend?
I think going every day is going to get easier and easier. I hope, anyway.
I was really sort of triggered and overwhelmed until I went back to class today. Feeling like an imposter and failure and like all my homeschool was showing, but also realizing that because of my history with math…I wasn’t ready for the attack of the feels. When she brought out the textbooks I almost panicked because the last time I asked a math question I had a math textbook it was thrown at my head…and not too terribly long after that my parents decided I’d never need anything besides cooking and checkbook skills anyway.
She had us write out some answers to questions about why we were there and I sort of vomited up – in as few words as I could – the story of my educational neglect and how I’m anxious about…..everything but mostly upset that my math is atrocious. I was then worried that I said too much, but she really wanted to know, and wanted to know how to teach us better, so…I think that was useful.
The first day I had to face all of my fears and feelings at once and then process that. I was overwhelmed and scared and also happy because I can really tell she cares, and I’ve never had a teacher who cares before, and it feels amazing.
Today was a lot easier. Today I know I can do it, and that she won’t throw a book at my face, and it’s okay to take a break and it’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to do what I need to as long as I don’t give up. And that’s really important.
When I was 19 I had the opportunity to write out…basically my life story and post it to a website with a lot of readers. It helped me start processing my life and was the catalyst for rethinking all the things I was taught and starting to see my abuse for what it was. I’ve requested the author of the site to take the articles down because I feel the site no longer represents or seeks to aid survivors of abuse like mine – but I still feel like my story – though I have grown and changed massively in the last six years – is important and can maybe still help people like me. So I’m posting it here. It was originally published in 6 parts, but I’m posting it in one fell swoop with handy navigation.
This was my start. I was just out of my parents house and still talking to them, facing a world of unknowns, and clinging to religion and the hope of a healthy family. Where I was then is still important, because it gave me the courage to become who I am now.
It occurred to me that while I’ve mentioned how my sex determined what I learned in school I haven’t really mentioned how that translated into college.
This is actually a little complicated because my parents waffled quite a bit before settling on their decision. When we first started homeschooling my mother’s plan (with no input from me) was for me to go to the local vocational school and double major in cosmetology and culinary arts. Neither of these were things I was interested in and actively tried to make that known, not that anyone cared. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my family it’s that my preferences don’t matter unless they line up with exactly what they want from me, their idea of who I should be trumps the truth of my existence every time – but that’s besides the point.
This was solidly the plan until I was about 8 or so (give or take because the concept of time is a blur). I think part of what they learned in the cult (or maybe it was the one ATI seminar they went to) was that it’s not appropriate for women to go to college. Some people think this but still send their daughters to college to get, I kid you not, an M.R.S. degree. The thought being, college will turn women into evil feminists who aren’t submissive and tell them things that are directly contrary to god’s plan (get married, have babies, homeschool)!
This goes right along with courtship, staying under the father’s head/umbrella/authority until married, and using the in-between highschool and marriage time to learn how to take care of your family. I’m not entirely sure where they got all this, but they did. Anyway, at some point they came to me and said that I wouldn’t be doing college, because god said it’s not good for girls to go to college – and college isn’t going to prepare you to be a helpmeet and mother anyway. This didn’t bother me because my cosmetology and culinary arts future looked bleak to my very young self who was neither into adding more cooking into their life or painting other people’s nails.
I think my family was surprised at how well I took it because they’d been building it up in their head. But anyway. College was out of the question for several years and I kept living my life free of the worry of having to cook and do makeup for college.
Then I discovered politics, speech and debate, and Patrick Henry College. I wanted more than anything in the world to go to PHC, and since it was a homeschool college and very much daughters-under-their-father’s-authority operating school…I probably wouldn’t have to worry about turning into an evil feminist.
Whether or not I could go to PHC seemed like it changed by the day, but I was several years out so I figured they’d come around.
They almost did – after they decided to break Alex and I up (because courtship = parents control all the things) they encouraged me to apply to PHC, sort of as a bribe – like the money and car they offered. I jumped at the opportunity to go to the college I dreamed of and get out of my parents house. I filled out the application and went through all the steps, got my pastor to write a letter of recommendation and all I needed to do was have my parents sign the waiver.
They said they changed their mind, they couldn’t support it, they didn’t want to be responsible for me financially (and my living at home not allowed or able to get a job was what? or right, indentured servitude), and most importantly, college isn’t for girls. I’m going to be a wife and mother after all, I don’t need any further education. My consumer math and ability to read, write, and recite their interpretation of scripture back to them was all I would need and college wasn’t going to help me be a better submissive wife.
And like that, it was over.
After we got married I started applying to a school that did distance learning and was marginally less conservative. It involved re-writing my transcript (which is still a mess) and being a private school hot for Dave Ramsey, financially it wasn’t feasible. I was accepted but it just didn’t happen. I was still trying to navigate what being a Wife looked like and panicking that having a summer job meant I would have an affair (because women in the workforce have affairs, that’s why they have to be keepers at home) – the lies my parents ingrained into me were still so very very strong.
This is why getting accepted to a community college and taking the catch-up/pre-college course is so huge to me. I’m finally at a place where I can break that jar and decide what I want to do.
I took the placement test for adult basic education at my community college. I have an ID that says student and not “weird strange haired person who doesn’t belong: immediately escort out” on it, and an orientation on the 15th where I’ll find out where I placed and can sign up for classes to start taking in January.
The cards said go for it. My friend sent crows. I was at a place where I felt like I was ready and I shook off the wave of panic telling me to run and that I’m an imposter and I started it. I started a new thing. I started sort of almost college and as an educationally neglected kid who was told college was out of the question because I was born with a uterus….this is huge. I don’t have enough words to describe it, but it’s big and healing on many levels because I’m showing myself I can actually do the thing – or at least try the thing and see if I like it and having a uterus doesn’t mean I don’t get to!
Later that day I was jeans shopping and trying them on. I was not one, but two sizes bigger than I thought I was and I was having a moment as I watched the numbers on the jeans gradually increase. When I tried them on I tried not to dwell on what size I wanted them to be, but how I felt in them, if they fit, if I wasn’t trying to force myself to be smaller because I somehow thought that was better. The moment ended the minute I put on the pair that fit, that embraced my curves and didn’t squish my abdomen, that didn’t require a pants dance, and looks damn good.
I figured out that smaller sized jeans? don’t look better on you if you’re denying your body the right to take up space. You are matter, and oh my god, clothes that fit are so much more of a confidence boost than convincing yourself you could totally fit into this smaller pair really soon.
When I was 11 we came home one day to find someone we’d met at a homeless shelter/food kitchen/church thingy on our doorstep, with her infant. We’ll call her Missy.
I don’t know how she got our address, or why she was there.
But she was.
And I gave up my bedroom and moved in with my sisters and Missy stayed with us for a very long time.
She stayed with us through the aforementioned foreclosure, where my parents stopped paying their mortgage in lieu of paying someone else’s.
She stayed with us so she could get her two other kids (and nephew?) back in her custody.
Our house was foreclosed on and we were facing homelessness – not just for our family, but for Missy’s as well.
My parents traveled all over the city, and even a few hours north of where we lived, trying to find some place to live, but because we were being foreclosed on, no one was taking my parents + another family, because they didn’t trust they’d pay.
On the day we had to be out (the people who bought our house granted us an extra week or two on account of they were nice and we had a shit ton of people to move – although, Missy did most of the packing because….I think mom and dad were busy looking for houses and also hanging on to “god saving our home”) we had nowhere to go, we were looking at being homeless, and Missy was still going to follow us around.
The plan was for me and my siblings to stay at my grandparents while my parents continued to travel anywhere to find somewhere who’d let a two-family-one-income household rent from them. It was a really terrifying day. Not knowing where we were going to sleep, or live, or if I’d see the people in my homeschool group ever again…
But then my grandparents mentioned that the house next door just went up for rent, and so my parents went over and the guy who bought the place just wanted the land, so he didn’t ask questions and said as long as we’d paid the rent we could stay there. So we did.
And the house was a 3 bedroom + bonus room, and one of the bedrooms had it’s own private bathroom and entry, so that was where Missy stayed with her 9 year old and infant (the timeline is fuzzy, because it was around the time we moved there that she got partial custody of her kids, but I don’t know if it was simultaneously, or a little later), and I eventually shared a room with Missy’s 15 year old. My dad put up a false wall in the bonus room because it was connected to the master bedroom and my sisters slept there, and my brother literally slept in a closet.
When Missy’s nephew joined our party, he slept on a futon outside my bedroom, in the dining room.
When I was 12 mom got pregnant again, which meant that pubescent Kiery got to take over everything again, except this time….not only was my mom telling me what to do, and having me run the house, but Missy was too.
I was cooking and doing chores not just for my family, but hers as well.
Let me mention this again: I was 12 years old.
I was taking care of two families single handedly.
I was not okay.
Eventually my parents confronted Missy about using me as her slave too, and set up a chore list so other people had to also cook and clean and do laundry. Mostly, just that Missy had to take care of her family’s stuff, and we alternated cooking days. Zero introspection on the part of my parents regarding…I don’t know, placing too much responsibility on a twelve year old.
My parents got mad at me for my “attitudes” (because I was adolescent, exhausted, run ragged, burnt out, and barely keeping up with everything, including school), and blamed it on Missy’s 15 year old daughter’s influence (because I shared a room with her – even though we weren’t close). Very little came of this besides my trying extra hard to be totally happy all the time.
It was Missy’s older child who alerted me to the fact that my period had started when I was studying in a tree with my brother, her cousin, and some of the other kids. My brother was very concerned, and I panicked. Missy had then asked me, at random, if I was pregnant or not because I would sometimes wrap my arm around my abdomen (because cramps. and no meds.), and I was mortified. Half because I didn’t know what sex was or how to do it, and half because that’s not something you ask an isolated twelve year old who just started having periods.
My parents paid Missy $40 a week to stay with us and homeschool her kids. That way, she could say she had a job to the CPS people, while still fulfilling her god-ordained plan to be a stay at home mother and educator. I…don’t remember this going well. To be honest I’m not sure if she even did anything more to educate her kids than through books at them, like my mom did with me, but I don’t remember. I was otherwise occupied.
Missy was, however, a far superior cook than my mom, and fish and frog-legs aside, she made some really good food. This is the only pleasant memory I have of her. Graham cracker cake and home-made Chinese food.
Shortly before/after my 13th birthday, my parents discovered that Missy had been abusing pharmaceuticals and kicked her and her family out.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that I only had one mom around any more, and my own room. Also, my brother got to move out of the closet and into Missy’s alcove, which was nice…and I was maybe jealous.
The second stillborn happened two weeks before my 13th birthday.
After Missy, my parents decided not to let random families live with us again. Turns out my mom didn’t like having another lady in the house either.
My mom got pregnant almost instantly after the stillborn and I had to get my own rides to ballet (which meant asking my teacher to pick me up and coming home with my grandma). My ballet teacher was a wonderful adult to have in my life at the time. She made me feel valued and cared for at a time when I really needed it, because I wasn’t getting that from my mom.
In fact, that was often one of the things that hurt me so much as a child – I never had time with my mom, and I’d get upset and we’d have a mother-daughter day, but that would happen all of three times before she would get pregnant again and it would end and I just became an object. I tried to explain this to her once, but she never really understood it.
She spent so much time talking to and being there for other people, acting like she knew all the things about being a good wife (helpmeet), homeschooling, and parenting – but was never there for me, never there for her kids.
About a year ago some homeschool alumni and I got together and founded the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. When Homeschooler’s Anonymous started exposing the stories of abuse and neglect in the homeschool community I realized that I wasn’t alone. It encouraged me to keep writing my story and I’ve written a lot over the last several years.
Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) exists to do what we can to make homeschooling better for families like mine – families who use homeschooling to get away with giving their children a sub-par education, to cover for abuse, or as a thinly veiled attempt at isolation and indoctrination.
Here’s the thing: Homeschooling can be awesome, and most of my fellow board members had great home education experiences, but the fact that people like me, and many others, exist, means there’s a problem and we need to fix it.
Homeschooling should be a tool to give children the education that’s right for them, that equips them for the future, and gives them the tools they need to succeed at whatever they do – not whatever plans their parents determine for them.
Which is why I work for CRHE, and we advocate for the interests of homeschooled children – by doing research and creating resources. It’s an issue that’s close to my heart and it’s hard, grueling work, but we have ambition, passion, and big plans.
But here’s where you come in: It’s December and we have our 501c3 status which means any donations are tax deductible, and I would personally, really appreciate it if you donated what you can, get on our email list, and share this organization with anyone you know. Because what we’re doing is important, and what we’re doing has the potential to help so many homeschooled kids, now, and in the future.
**Also, if you donate at a higher gift level (and opt in) I’ll draw you something, because you’re awesome. <3