Homeschoolers aren't aliens

Feb 062012
Authors: Bayley Enright and Emily Kribs

Bayley Enright:

Hi. My name is Bayley. I was homeschooled. Which apparently means I’m arrogant and unsocialized. But smart. That’s got to count for something.

Actually, of all the things people are most concerned about with homeschoolers, the quality of our education is up there. People think we’re either geniuses or idiots who chase butterflies and never do math. Let’s not dwell on that, though. I’m in college, aren’t I? And I’m doing okay. Clearly my homeschooling background hasn’t left me severely academically stunted.

Moving to the arrogance thing. I’m not going to talk about how not arrogant I am. I’m too humble for that. But that’s not what matters.

I once met a kid who was pompous and obnoxious. This kid attended public school. Does that matter? No, it doesn’t. Whenever someone encounters a person like that, they don’t immediately blame their education. Unless the kid’s homeschooled. Why is that?

A kid is badly behaved: “What a brat.” Same kid is homeschooled: “Oh, I can’t believe his parents did that to him.” Is it just me, or is that a problem?

People who know one strange homeschooler immediately assume the whole lot is rotten, but that same assumption isn’t true for any other kind of school. Yeah, I knew that one horrid kid, but I know perfectly wonderful people who went to public school. Public school has students who are nice and mean, smart and stupid –– everyone. So does homeschool. It’s not fair to assume that, just because one homeschooler is weird or arrogant, we all are. That’s called stereotyping.

Let’s talk about that whole choice thing.

I attended public school for four years. Each morning I got up at a certain time, went to school and passed from class to class. When the bell rang, I went home, did my homework and returned the next morning to do the same thing.

As a homeschooled student, some mornings I got up and ran. Other mornings I practiced cello. Or maybe I’d get up early and get all my schoolwork done before lunch so I could play Mario Kart. I wore pajamas all day long.

And did I choose to be homeschooled? YES! And I know kids who quit homeschooling and chose public school instead. Each person is different. Public school wasn’t my thing. At public school, I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom whenever I needed to. When you go to school at home, nobody minds you using the bathroom as is necessary. That’s what it’s there for.

Emily Kribs:

I’ve attended school regularly since I was… four? When do you start preschool? Does preschool even count?

Anyway, the majority of my life, I’ve been in an institutionalized school, or I’ve gone to a building with the word “school” in its name, so I’ve never been homeschooled. I’ve met people who have been, though, and I’ve actually done a little research for once.

Nowadays, people rarely question the quality of homeschoolers’ education. It’s been accepted that a homeschooler’s academic curriculum is equivalent, sometimes even superior to that provided by institutions. The main question, then, is that of socialization.

At the beginning of my freshman year of high school, I met a girl, also a freshman, who had been homeschooled up until that year. I knew this because she said, “Hello, I’m homeschooled,” by way of introduction.

This was already an off-putting way to make an acquaintance. She then went on to be that rabid atheist who tells religious people they’re idiots to their faces, that girl who unabashedly tells you about the, uh… intimate details of her life, and just took every opportunity to demonstrate what a free spirit she was, unfettered by our institutionalized conventions and narrow-mindedness.

It wasn’t a very good first impression. But I was willing to shrug it off as the behavior of a 14-year-old.

I’ve since met a few other homeschooled kids — but not many, mind you. Those I’ve met have been bright, mature, well-rounded… and kind of annoying.

I don’t want to say every homeschooled kid is the same. People are people, and not beholden to any stereotypes. But the socialization aspect does strike me as trying. The homeschoolers I know can talk to people, sure. But it’s the underlying arrogance that grinds my gears.

Maybe I’m imagining it, but then again, here’s a quote from Diane Flynn Keith, whose children were homeschooled: “They haven’t been conditioned to be passive and compliant or dependent on others to tell them what to do or how to spend their time.”

The implication here is that other students are these things, an implication that I resent. It’s not that I mind homeschoolers being smart, or my own being average. My issue is with the idea that it’s bad to be average. Call me churlish, but first find me someone who likes being looked down on. I’m sure this conceit isn’t universal. I’m willing to bet that I’ve met a number of homeschoolers whose educational origins I would never have guessed.

Though I suppose they don’t choose their education any more than I did. Maybe I should be tearing after their parents. Like so: Hey Bayley, yo mama.

 Posted by at 2:51 pm

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