Monday, July 07, 2008

I guess I'm a social retard!

You know, discrimination of all types abound. No doubt about it. Some are obvious; race, gender, class, etc. Some are extreme, others are less so.

One that surprised me, one that I never would've imagined, one that's become more and more apparent to me every day - is the one against homeschooling!

When I was a kid, people used to assume that homeschooled kids were stupid, that they weren't getting as good an education. It was common knowledge that parents could not possibly teach their children as well as trained professionals.

Well, that's been proved so far wrong that almost nobody bothers to assert that anymore. Homeschooled kids so routinely beat public school kids in every conceivable test that most public schools do their best to avoid all academic comparison. By every measure, homeschooling leads to far superior academic prowess.

Does this mean that people admit that homeschooling is better? Hardly. Having lost the battle when it comes to the very purpose of school (academic achievement), the default answer is that homeschooled kids have no social skills. Why? Because they weren't herded together in groups of thirty people of the exact same age, and droned at by underpaid and often underskilled teachers in a highly controlled beaureaucratic environment. This is obviously the best way to teach children the necessary skill for socializing in all other settings, as it so closely resembles... Um... Honestly? Nothing that I'm aware of.

When I was in New Orleans, everybody I knew there believed completely and totally in Astrology. I started asking people to guess my sign, and kept close track of the result (both strangers and people that knew me well). You would think that 1/12th of them would've guessed correctly. Nope - not a single one got it right. However, once I told them my sign, without exception they all said it was obvious, because it fit me so well. (You can guess how well this affirmed my belief in the system... *bullshit!*)

In the same way, I've never in my adult life had anyone guess that I was homeschooled. In fact, the vast majority of people express disbelief when I tell them that. Afterwards, though - they all start searching for any sign of social awkwardness, blunder, or faux pas. And when they see it, they immediately blame it on my homeschooling. It is clear that had I simply gone to public school, I would never make a single mistake. Ever.

I see them doing the exact same thing to other homeschooled people. But when it comes to the social blunders of publicly schooled individuals, all sorts of other reasons are given. "He's just a nerd." "She's immature." "He's kinda a jerk that way."

I've even had people claim they can tell a pattern in the "homeschooled social skills set" that points them out. Needless to say, I've never seen a successful demonstration of this so-called pattern.

You know what? I screw up in public a lot. I make stupid decisions, say things I probably shouldn't, make enemies where I don't mean to. It's not because I'm homeschooled. It's because I'm human. And probably a good bit because I'm a nerd with no interest in fitting in.

I know a lot of people with great social skills that went to public school. I know more that have little to none.

Reality check - very few people learn their social skills in school, whether it be home, public, or private. We learn them from our friends outside of class. We learn them from our parents, from our siblings. We learn them at summer camps, or at jobs. I learned mine first at home, then at church, at karate class, on the shooting range, in Boy Scouts, at the movie theater, out on dates. Did I screw up a lot when I was a teenager? Hell yeah. I'd like to find one person who can honestly say they didn't!

But saying that homeschooled kids can't socialize is the last bastion of hope remaining for those who cling to the public school model. People - wake up and admit the emperor has no clothes.

The public school model is a very recent phenomenon in human history. It's never been tried this way before. It will probably not be tried again for a long, long time. It is a complete and utter failure by every rational standard. Spending more money won't fix it. Hiring more specialists won't fix it. Pretending it's working won't fix it. It was an experiment - and it FAILED. We are close to dead last in every category when compared to any other "modern" nation. And when I talk to foreigners, they usually don't rave about American social skills, either.

So if you want to say that homeschoolers can't socialize, just keep clinging to that belief. The emperor looks mighty fine in that outfit, huh? There are homeschoolers that can't, no doubt about it. Just like there are public school kids that can't, and probably for the exact same reasons.

Homeschooling is not the only option, of course. And public education is quite doable, and a worthy endeavour. But not with the current system.

I leave you with a quote by C. S. Lewis

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:02 AM

    "58.9% report that they are "very happy" with life, compared with 27.6% for the general U.S. population. 73.2% find life "exciting", compared with 47.3%"
    For this alone, Homeschooling sounds like a good way to raise a child. It doesn't matter where you are taught it, as long as you are taught how to make yourself happy.