Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homeschooling: The Chicken & The Egg

No, this post isn't about origin science.  Keep reading. 

You've heard it all before: Homschooling produces socially stunted kids who are awkward and have no idea how to function in society.

I'll be the first to tell you that such a tired old stereotype is absolute bullshit.  Am I saying there are NO socially awkward homeschooled people?  Absolutely NOT.  There most definably are.....which leads to the question:
 Which came first?  The chicken (homeschooling)? 
Or the egg (social awkwardness)?


When I was a teenager I met a homeschooling family that was the embodiment of all the negative home education stereotypes.  They were religious.  The mom wore denim jumpers.  The daughters were painfully shy, quiet, and very soft spoken.  One preferred to wear long Little House on the Prairie style dresses, the other wore mom-jeans and t-shirts featuring kittens and teddy bears.  Glasses, braces, acne....the whole nine yards.  They were the family that would confirm everything for a home education critic on sight....


The oldest daughter would have been a highschool freshmen the year I met them.  To this day, I do not understand how either of those kids made it through public school alive.  It had to have been a nightmare!  I imagine highschool was ultimately what forced their parents to make the decision...if middle school had been bad, highschool would have been much MUCH worse.  They did what any loving parent would do and removed their children from a bad situation.

So what changed?  Not much.  They stayed socially awkward and quiet.  The only difference homeschooling made was instead of socially awkward and miserable, now they were socially awkward yet happy.  They even made a few friends!  I was one of them.  They were nothing like me, and I could definitely see their social shortcomings....but they were nice, sweet girls.  They didn't deserve to be outcasts or bullied just because they were different.

The sad part is, homeschooling will forever be blamed for those their social issues.  Yet homeschooling had NOTHING to do with it!  They came to homeschooling as they were...and the homeschool community welcomed them with open arms.

Sometimes homeschooling is the RESULT of social awkwardness, not the other way around.

A lot of families who decide to homeschool do so because they feel they have to.  If your child is socially awkward and miserable in school, perhaps being bullied, why beat a dead horse by keeping them there?  If eight years of public school hasn't "fixed" it, how likely is it that 4 more years will either?

Socially awkward people exist in the public education system.  Everyone knows that, so why is this conveniently forgotten whenever someone opts out of public school?  Every school has its outcasts and nerds, but nobody blames their shortcomings on how they were educated!  Its an unfair double standard.  Go to  any sci-fi/comic book/anime convention and take a's a simple matter of numbers: the vast majority will have gone to public school.

Social awkwardness has nothing to do with how or where you were educated.  Period.

Meanwhile, there are plenty homeschoolers out there who are NOT socially awkward that go unnoticed.  We blend in.  Nobody assumes there's anything different about your upbringing when you seem like everyone else...but then if they find out they assume you are just the exception to the rule.  Why is this?  If the socially awkward can count against home education, why can't the socially normal count in its favor?

What it comes down to is people's preconceived notions.  "Weird" homeschooled kids fit in with what they already think or what they want to think.  Homeschooled kids who blend in and seem "normal" have to be exceptions in their mind because we are in opposition to the stereotype.  I worked with a women for years and when she found out I'd never attended school she was SHOCKED and spent the rest of the afternoon asking me "Really?!  Really??!?!" every time she saw me.  We exist.  Don't be shocked!

I am who I am.  Socially awkward people are who they are.  There's nothing wrong with that!  And it certainly can't be altered with a change of scenery!

So which came first?  The homeschooling?  Or the social awkwardness?  In my opinion, neither.  Does it even really matter?  Nope.  People are who they are.  From shy to social butterfly, we're all just people.  Variety is what makes us interesting and unique.

Before you judge, get the whole story.  Better yet, just don't judge.