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The “REBELUTION”: How Two Homeschool Grads are Reaching Out to Their Generation

By Sarah Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #96, 2010.

Brett and Alex Harris are starting a movement. Here's what it is about.
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Sarah Pride

Making it rain. Indoors. Like a conductor directing an orchestra made of human instruments from the stage at the front of the large room, Brett Harris pointed to one section of the audience, then another. The roomful of teenagers and their parents delightedly rubbed their hands on their thighs, snapped their fingers, clapped, and then clapped and stomped. It sounded for all the world as though a heavy rainfall clattered against a metal roof. Then Brett directed everyone back through the actions in reverse order, and the “rain” disappeared.

“This was just a reminder,” Alex Harris said into the microphone, “that most hard things need more than one person. But together, we can make it rain.”

It was a beautiful moment, memorable, a perfect way for the twin Harrises to end the last conference of their 2010 “Do Hard Things” Rebelution tour. Sure, “making it rain” is an old schtick, one I’ve witnessed before. But it works. Like everything else the Harrises have done so far as they’ve become the current role models of evangelical teens, the classic stunt is true. And it’s truth the world needs, not novelty.

When I first heard of Alex and Brett and their “Rebelution” in 2008, I was suspicious. Our parents had always taught us Pride kids exactly what the Harrises were saying—teens can and should do much more than people expect. I grew up traveling with my parents to homeschool conventions and helping to assemble books and magazines. In a way, because I lived it, I thought this truth was obvious.

Apparently, though, Alex and Brett saw what the rest of us missed. They read the excellent books their parents, Gregg and Sono Harris, gave them at the exact same moment they were meeting the world with fresh eyes. They caught a snapshot of reality that showed them other teens needed to hear the same truth. And because of their upbringing in a family of homeschool pioneers, watching huge conventions being produced by their father and older brother (Josh), the twins possessed the knowledge and connections to make their own voices heard.

Brett told me once that he and Alex were “in the right place at the right time.” I dismissed the comment as simply him being modest, but over time I have started to wonder if this is true. Here’s their story; we can judge for ourselves.

First, the twins were born smart. Even more importantly, they combine their intelligence with an unusual ability to run conferences, learned from growing up in the same family as parents Gregg and Sono and older brother Josh. As teenagers, they joined the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA), an organization that didn’t exist when I was growing up. Here, they expanded their public speaking skills. At age 16, their father handed them a large stack of influential books, which they read. Then they started their blog, the “Rebelution,” asserting that teens can and should achieve real-world goals.

Thanks to their family connections, the twins’ blog received an initial audience most teenagers’ writing would not. So an Alabama supreme court justice read their blog and challenged the 16-year-olds to live up to their words. After a successful internship in his office, Alex and Brett soon found themselves organizing hundreds of teens in a grassroots effort to help four campaigns for the Alabama supreme court. Although their candidates did not win, the effort built the experience and connections the Harrises needed to make a real difference in former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s bid for the presidency throughout 2007.

The real tipping point for the Harrises’ ministry came when their friend Randy Alcorn printed out one of their campaign emails to show martial artist Chuck Norris at an informal get-together. Norris began to talk about Huckabee wherever he appeared, several times a day, and he referred to the twins at the same time as “two guys from Oregon.” Needless to say, even more people sought them out. They appeared on TV, wrote Do Hard Things (see sidebar), and ran a series of conferences. In 2008, I met them for the first time, when they visited Patrick Henry College—where I graduated in 2007, and where I’ve been working ever since as webmaster, editorial assistant, videographer, et cetera.

I like the Harrises very much as people, and I’m proud to count myself among their many friends. I’ve written about them several times on the PHC website. In this article, however, I am much more interested in what the Harris twins’ sudden popularity tells us about the culture and current status of homeschooling in the United States.

When I grew up, my homeschooled compadres did not sport iPhones and digital movie cameras. Mostly, the homeschoolers wore jeans jumpers and won every national academic competition imaginable. We memorized quick and easy answers to the question, “What about socialization?” and used them several times a week.

Five years ago, however, I began to notice that people no longer looked at me funny when I mentioned my educational background. Often, a kid would sigh wistfully, “I wish I could be homeschooled!” And parents asked questions, rather than issuing a challenge.

So in 2006 I researched and wrote a 100-page research project that documented the improvement in public opinion toward homeschooling. I found that two things had happened simultaneously. First, the homeschool movement, like anything else new, had happened in waves. A first wave of individualist innovators cleared the soil, and a second wave of visionaries developed the ground. On top of this foundation, now, a third wave of regular people from every demographic had settled. At the same time, the general opinion of everyday Americans had shifted against the public school system. Now, anyone can homeschool, and anyone does. And, whether homeschooled or not, the average American teen will often agree that the public school system does not easily support strong, creative thinkers.

The Harris twins have therefore found themselves in the position of giving a voice to high-achieving teens across a variety of demographics, whether homeschooled or not. Where a weak point lies in the culture, they stand, at least for the current moment.

These young men have taken advantage of every opportunity that has come their way and have worked tremendously hard. But they have also been born into a family with an unusual heritage that gave them a voice at a young age. In their time and place—the current time and place—homeschooling is “cool.” No longer the radical fringe, it is now the cutting edge.

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