Maybe you can relate, but one of my favorite things is finding a blog post or article that says what I want to say, better than I could say it. So I about jumped out of my seat when I read this article,
I did start fist-pumping and going, “Yes! Yes! Exactly!”
But quietly, because SoldierMan was trying to sleep.
First of all, read the article. I’m not going to rehash it for you here, and it’s very short.
No, really, go read it.
Finished? Okay then.
It’s been challenging for me to explain to my peers why I intend to at least partially homeschool our future children. Not because I don’t have reasons. It’s because when I start listing my reasons, people look at me like I’m speaking Chinese.
It’s exactly true that the #1 objection people have to homeschooling is almost never education. Very few people can still question the level of education homeschoolers receive anymore in a general sense, and that’s thanks to the large strides homeschooling has made both in practice and in PR in the last couple of decades.
No, their main objection – almost 100% of the time – is this really nebulous and dangerous word, “socialization." People worry that your kids won’t be “socialized” properly. And of course, they aren’t worried your child won’t know how to use utensils in public or will run through the mall pushing down old people.
No, when you get to the heart of the issue, whether they realize it or not,
people are afraid that their homeschooled kids won’t want to be like all the other kids.
What we call “socialization” is really group-think indoctrination. We’re all supposed to like the same music, the same movies, the same clothes. And then when someone doesn’t, we shame them into conforming or leaving. Some people call it bullying. Others call it peer pressure.
Really it’s just the natural product of grouping children together in a setting outside the home for 8+ hours a day from the age of 4 (or even younger) – eventually the stronger-willed ones become the social arbiters of their sphere of influence and decide that the “cool” kids (in my day) all like Britney Spears and Abercrombie and if you didn’t, there was something really wrong with you.
I was homeschooled through 8th grade. In 9th grade, I went to a small traditional school. My parents wanted to make sure I had an official high school transcript when I applied for colleges, and that was the best option for that at the time (thankfully, things have changed since then). And of course, there was a very clearly-defined pecking order, at least for the girls. There was the Queen Bee, there were the worker bees, and there were a few stragglers they spent hours a day either ignoring or making fun of.
This environment was entirely new to me. I wasn’t used to teenagers that I didn’t go to church with or wasn’t related to, who didn’t accept you as just you were. I wasn’t used to someone loudly pointing out that I wore something they didn’t like, had weird hair, or – God forbid – didn’t hang on his or her every word for approval.
Thankfully, because I was homeschooled, I really didn’t care that So-and-so didn’t approve of my clothes, or my favorite TV shows, or that I didn’t have my learner’s permit yet, or that I (felt like) the only 15-year-old not already on a Slimfast diet for no good reason whatsoever.
My identity wasn’t defined by what other people thought of me.
Then high school goes on and into college. And into adulthood. And the challenge to stay “weird” is still there. Less difficult in a sense, because as an adult, I’m more comfortable with the fact that there are still people who never got out of group-think mode and can’t have a relationship with you if you don’t conform. More difficult (for one example) as an Army wife, where so much of our lives is standardized and uniform. It’s a struggle to maintain that individuality in a world where relationships are often based on what your husband does for a living. But, since I was able to grow up “weird,” it helps me stay less concerned with making other people try and understand why I want to do the things I do and more comfortable in my own skin.
Let’s go back to the Queen Bee in high school. Not long after I started there, this girl and her minions were (in my 15-year-old mind) singling me out, trying to verbally humiliate me in and out of class. It was obvious this was because I stuck out. Yeah, I was the Hermione of the group. I answered all the questions in class. I read ahead. I didn’t follow her around and ask her opinion about anything and everything. I even had the huge head of frizzy hair. In a world of sleek blonde athletes, I was the weirdo. But instead of letting this girl shame me into changing my behavior – and by extension my personality – I stood up for myself. I stood my ground and talked back. A few times. And then, she stopped.
If I had invested my emotional well-being and personal identity in group-think, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. And I’m sorry, but I really do believe part of the bullying problem we see today isn’t that bullying is this brand-new 21st-century epidemic that nobody knows how to handle. I believe it’s the product of three and four generations of Americans growing up in the pressure of the group-think mentality that says that it’s so terribly important to fit in, to be part of the group, whatever group that may be. Then, if someone points out and ridicules your uniqueness, it’s a tragedy, not an opportunity to build strength.
I’m glad my parents wanted better for me than to be “socialized.” They wanted me to be educated, self-confident, curious, capable of handling adult conversation at a young age, able to look beyond people of our own age and life experience for emotional validation. Because we certainly were socialized in the true sense of the term. We were at church whenever the doors were open. We had a huge extended family with dozens of cousins that spent much of our free time together. We had fellow homeschoolers with whom we went to the movies, the skating rink, the science museum, the Braums dairy, and Harn Homestead. My parents took us to every precinct meeting, county convention, work and social activity they engaged in. They were the “weird” parents that actually enjoyed being parents.
I could go on and on, but I’ll just finish with quoting the above article that inspired this post:
And that’s why homeschooled kids are so annoying.
Because no one tells them that the way God made them isn’t cool enough.