Ann Clay of Manassas, Va., a board member for the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers who has used "The Well-Trained Mind" to home-school her two sons, also sees splintering among home-schoolers.
"I've had Christian friends who didn't attend conferences because they were not the 'right' kind of Christians," she says. "There is something going on out there. Susan's stuff is not real preachy, and it doesn't teach evolution or creationism. She kind of glosses over it."
Not everyone agrees that the movement has become more polarized. "Frankly, I think they've always been that way," says Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition. "There's always been a debate between the religious right home-school friends and the ACLU home-school friends, and even within those circles."
Nevertheless, Bauer is moving on. She plans to devote 2013 to starting an agritourism business where would-be farmers could stay at a bed-and-breakfast within walking distance of her farm and learn to cultivate land and tend animals. She'll be on leave from teaching; as for chronicling world history, she hasn't decided whether to write more books.
"I think that this is partly a mid-career writer thing," she blogged. "I have been startled recently by how many writers, fifteen or twenty years in, go and farm or raise livestock or start organic gardening or do SOMETHING that involves doing rather than writing about doing."
Lawrence doubts that Bauer will truly take a rest.
"I look forward to what she turns to next," he says. "I don't think she's going to sit there and watch the zinnias grow."
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Duin teaches journalism at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.