Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stupid, Socially Awkward Homeschoolers

We've been homeschooling for seven years now.  In those seven years, I've heard the battle-cry of upset homeschooling parents dealing with people who make derogatory comments about homeschooling.  I've considered our family fortunate, because other than the very rare "What about socialization?" question, the kids really haven't faced ignorance....until the past few months.  (I do remember a mom blaming homeschooling on the fact that my then-5-year-old-wouldn't-even-BE-in-public-school-yet daughter asked for a second gift bag at a birthday party. "Well, she's not in school, so she's not learned those social rules yet."  Umm...blame my bad parenting, but not homeschooling.)

Since moving to our new place, the kids have had the opportunity to endure a lot of ignorant comments. Among those are comments about homeschoolers.  (I will blog later about the other bigoted, offensive things my kids have heard lately.)  Maybe our past neighbors thought this stuff, but never said it out loud, but these neighbors have no problem making comments that tell my kids "homeschoolers are stupid and socially awkward."

Here are a few comments spoken directly to my kids while I was not around: (Imagine that! I'm not constantly beside my children!)
by a mother: homeschoolers just don't do as well academically/don't go to college.
by a teenage kid: (referring to another homeschool kid in the 'hood) He's socially awkward because he's homeschooled.  (In that same breath, she said, "His brother isn't. He's cool. And you guys, too."  Well, obviously public school didn't teach logic to this particular teen.
by their peers: "What's 11x12? You can't answer fast? See? Homeschoolers aren't good at math because they are homeschooled."
I AM proud to say that Hannah told the kids she couldn't think of the answer off the top of her head right then and asked the kids the same question back.  They couldn't answer quickly either.

I don't mind hearing negative comments myself, but when people, especially adults, put down my kids, you're going to stir some coals in this momma.
Kenzie, in China, learning how silk is made.
What? No kids her age?! You mean she has to interact with adults?!

TJ at Tiananman Square with his favorite friend and guide, George.

Hannah, overcome with emotion seeing her brother for the first time
and witnessing 13 other families meet their kids for the first time.

For the past 5-6 years especially, I have been extremely careful not to put down public school.  (Okay, I DID just make my own snide comment about logic, but I digress.)  We have chosen to homeschool for reasons that are unique to The Brown Seven.  I don't expect any other family to embrace or desire homeschooling.  I don't view public school as evil or stupid.  I certainly wouldn't say something to another kid about how horrible public school is for them.  I pray I've never even said anything to a child that implies that.  Hearing other's rude comments will certainly keep me mindful of my own speech.

So how do I handle this issue with my kids?  When they come home with these stories, how do Ken and I instruct them?  We see it as an opportunity to practice graciousness, respectfulness, and intelligent conversation.  That's why I love that Hannah answered a question with the same question.  Without being rude or disrespectful, she basically showed the boy that one multiplication question can't prove you have no knowledge of math, homeschooled or otherwise.  We are teaching our kids to consider others' perspectives.  Maybe that mom who bashed homeschooling had a homeschool mom make her feel bad for sending her kids to public school.  Maybe not, but let's give people the benefit of the doubt.

Developing Christ-like character is a major goal in our homeschool and a major reason we homeschool.  These difficult people and situations will help us in achieving that goal, so I'll choose to be grateful.

(PS. I spelled derogatory wrong and had to use spell-check to make it right. And I have a bachelor's degree. What does that say about the quality of my education?  Right! Nothing!!)

25 comments:

  1. Thank you for expressing well your thoughts. I love this blog and I love you!

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  2. Living in a country where education is EVERYTHING and no one has even heard of homeschooling, people just don't even know how to respond when I tell them I teach the kids. Recently a close friend of ours asked me why I didn't send the kids to the local school. I summed it up mostly to it's easier with our traveling schedule required by our visa to school them at home. Later I realized I missed an opportunity to explain how God called me to do this (having to explain this in a different language can feel very overwhelming knowing I don't have the skills I need to communicate this). I was telling Dan about the question when he said I should have gotten a look of "almost-offended" on my face and said, "I'm an excellent teacher. There is no better teacher here than me." He said he always tells people we homeschool because I'm an excellent teacher. What's so funny is here, at least, if you exude confidence, it makes people start back-peddling in their opinions, arguments, etc. My friend would have probably said, "Of course you are!" So I need to remember that next time I'm asked and act like I'd be foolish to let a lesser teacher instruct my children. And, of course, including God's call would probably be a good thing too:o)

    Love you all, Darla

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  3. I think Home schooling is very good. If I had the patience to teach Drew at home then I would. I know all your three oldest children and your sister's daughter,which is home schooled. They are all very,very,very smart. In a way this is good for them to hear this because it shows them how kids,people can be. There will be hurtful things done and said all through life cause people are not informed or educated and quick to judge with out knowing. Love all you guys!
    Debra

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  4. I'm sorry that people are ignorant but I think it's logical to think that homeschooled children develop social issues. It is not correct, but it is logical. I'm afraid you will constantly be fighting this fight. Plus when you take into consideration that different homes define homeschooling differently; some mom's keep their kids home and only spend an hour a day teaching, some have a full curriculum and spend all day. When you say homeschooled, most people don't really know what that means and won't ask so you might have to volunteer the information first.

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  5. Education is what you make it--public, private, or at home. If your kids are stupid, or socially awkward, it's probably your fault. There are plenty of home-schooled children who are intelligent, reasonable, and well prepared for their eventual entry into the real world. Unfortunately, there are a disproportionate number who are not. To say otherwise would be tantamount to pretending the French don't like wine, or that lesbians don't prefer Subaru Outback's. These are the simple facts. As parents, we make decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions. There is no holy grail, no magic formula, and no guarantee that you're not preparing your children for a lifetime of counseling.

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    1. "If your kids are stupid, or socially awkward, it's probably your fault." Late to the game on this, but my daughter is socially awkward, and I highly doubt I'm to blame, nor do I think that social awkwardness is a bad thing. So what? Some people are uncoordinated (now that IS me, so if she is, she definitely gets that from these genes). Not everyone has to be a social butterfly. My husband is an introvert, thinks long and hard about things before he speaks, and basically cannot navigate normal social settings because he simply won't interrupt, and no one leaves much of a pause for him to politely insert his thoughts. I love him, and I'm grateful that his desire to really hear and process makes him basically dysfunctional in a social setting. *shrug*

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  6. Hi Sarah,

    I'm a mom of 4 in Cedar Park. I have 2 hard of hearing and the other 2 hearing daughters. We are on our 1st day of homeschool in obedience to God's prompting. I'm so excited about the peace that He's already providing. We would like other homeschooled friends walking on this same path. My 3rd daughter has been at Texas school for the Deaf and this is an adjustment. Please get back with me, maybe we can meet! My daughters are Kayla 14, Hailey 9, Madelyn 7, and Patricia 5. Hope to talk to you soon.

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  7. It seems a bit odd that your pictures representative of your child being homeschooled is crazy expensive trips to other countries. Is that normal, and are you showing off? And yes, interacting mostly with adults vs interacting with other children their age will have them develop in different social directions, usually negatively when they have to go back and interact with an all-peer group. A common problem I've seen is a sense of superiority or no ability to tell when they're acting above themselves. Nobody likes an overinflated ego. The picture to most peers would read, "What, too GOOD to do things with us? Gotta be protected by the adults?" Because that's how it's seen.

    If your kids have only NOW been introduced to ignorance and opposing viewpoints, well, tell them to get ready because that's everyone. They already would've known about this long ago in public school. And the social interactions in public school are the same as adult life - all workplaces have cliques, have their resident asshole, have quarrelsome people, have opposing viewpoints, etc. And navigating them one way or another is necessary to a happy life.

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    1. The pics are ONE trip. Our adoption trip. No superiority here. Most of my kids' best friends attend public school. I'm glad my kids were no exposed to the ignorance until they were around 10 years old. Why better for them to learn prejudice earlier? No worries, they certainly know it now.
      My kids have a peer group of kids their age. They are around kids of all ages as well as adults. They certainly don't have big egos.
      I do have to disagree about school classroom being like the rest of life. No other time in life will they be surrounded only by peers their exact age. Regardless, they DO have plenty of opportunities to learn about people, nice people, jerks, etc. Again, you're subscribing to the fallacy that it's impossible to learn those skills outside of a traditional classroom.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. All of the 8 home schoolers I've met are "a little off" socially. I mean we all are awkward to some extent but some of the 8 I've met practically have no ability to relate to people.

    Why isn't it logical for me to assume that other home schoolers might be the same way? I would give anyone the benefit of the doubt upon meeting them though, but still...

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    1. Anon,
      I hope you get the chance to meet more than 8 homeschoolers. Since it's estimated that 1.5 million kids homeschool in the US, it's likely that your sample of 8 don't represent the majority.

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    2. Not sure how many homeschool kids I have met in my 42 years. But sorry you can tell them apart. Social skills and being able just to relate to people they simply are incapable.

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  9. I don't have a problem with homeschooled kids. If they've been homschooled since kindergarten, one assumes they weren't involved in the choice to homeschool. Because of that, any issue I have with it rests on the parents' shoulder. I've known several homeschoolers and there are varying levels of success among them. One family of 8 kids has 4 grown adult kids, all still living at home, sleeping in their bunk beds in a bedroom with the younger kids. They don't seem to go anywhere but church or hang out with anyone but each other. They live in a very small town which is isolated geographically, but on top of that, they deliberately CHOSE to isolate their kids further by homeschooling them. I live in this town, too. The school system is perfectly fine, but, no, these kids have no friends in this very small town. It seems to me like "socializing" of homeschoolers only takes place with other homeschoolers. Do the religious homeschoolers know or befriend any secular kids? Do the liberal homeschoolers know or befriend any conservative families? It seems to me that any socialization of homeschoolers takes place in a vacuum, not in the melting pot of public or even private school. These kids I speak of are experiencing a massive failure to launch. The oldest is a 31-year-old woman who lives at home and has no job. Did this set of parents do right by their kids? Based on the empirical evidence so far, NO.

    I have to confess -- and I say this as respectfully as possible -- I don't understand the general prickliness of homeschoolers over criticism. It's a voluntary choice, homeschooling, and with that voluntary choice to be outside the mainstream will inevitably come the social consequences of that choice. One of those consequences seems to be criticism of this counter-cultural choice. It seems to me that the homeschooler has two options in response: toughen up and ignore it or stop homeschooling and end all homeschooling criticisms coming their way. I sometimes question whether the general defensiveness of homeschoolers is really an overcompensation because of some latent insecurity that they may NOT be doing the best thing for their kids.

    I guess I'd say this: Homeschool if you're absolutely sure you can do a better job of it than a public or private school. Not all parents can. All parents are teachers of their kids, but not all are "educators." Not all have the requisite patience or ability to explain concepts. As the old saying goes, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." YES, some homeschoolers are doing an exemplary job, maybe even the majority, but when I look at the kids I know and read their FB pages rife with misspellings, grammatical errors, and puncutation errors, when I see a 23-year-old girl who interacts like a 13-year-old girl, I DO have to question the results. Not across the board, no. But if ALL your adult kids are still living at home and you're NOT questioning yourself, then you and your utter lack of self-awareness were and are the biggest problem of all.

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  10. "homeschooling" not "homschooling" and "parents' shoulders" not "parents' shoulder."

    And, of course, any "you" I'm using is just a reference to the general "you," not you specifically.

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    1. Ruby, don't forget you misspelled punctuation ;)

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  11. I usd to believe that homeschooling was a good thing, but I no longer do. What changed my mind was watching homeschoolers that were almost 18 threaten to kill people who could have easily beaten them up but were too nice to do that, because the homeschoolers misread the social que and thought the person was being aggressive. I don't think the homeschooled people would have tried it, but that's something most people stop saying by elementary school, so to see people that were almost 18 lose control and threaten others like that, it just showed an unacceptable lack of maturity and social skills. Plus I saw other situations where homeschoolers were incredibly mean to any kids who were from divorced families or just not from families so ultra religious they homeschooled.they say these kids as evil,defective, and "from the world." It was hard to watch these homeschoolers treat nice kids that were being nice to them like dirty sinners just because they came from a different back ground. I think homeschooling gave these parents too much power. Instead of their kids knowing that some of the ways they thought were just them, the kids ended up thinking their parents prejudices were the way the world was and had no problem being very mean to those that don't fit their parents world view. A person can't contribute to society when they despise everyone in it, and for that reason I chose not to homeschool.

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    1. I'm sorry you had that experience with homeschooled kids.

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  12. How wrong you homeschoolers are about teachers and public schools. My children are very well educated and their teachers are fantastic! There's no way most parents can teach everything that my children are learning. Are you really qualified to teach Tenor Sax and Spanish? Do you have a full time nurse and child counselor in your home? Do you speak 3 languages? I hope you are an expert at cross-country Nordic skiing and can get my child into competitive level meets. Oh, you can't? Of course you can't. You're not the school system and in no way could you ever replace it. How long have you taught math and science at various levels? My kids go to public school AND they pray! Imagine that! To all you homeschoolers...You're wrong. Horribly wrong and your children will pay the price. Which is what frustrates me. Not that your wrong, do what you want, but I am truly concerned for your children. What makes a parent think they are more qualified than a professional teacher and a school? Just the social aspects of reality make homeschooling a bad option. Even if you have planned events with other kids, are you including other kids that don't come from the same background and culture as your children? You're isolating your children from the real world. Kids need to learn how to deal with different types of teachers and different kinds of peers or kids. Bullies, teachers who aren't fair...my kids learned valuable life lessons from these situations. When have your children had a teacher that singled them out in a negative way and didn't treat them fairly? When have they dealt with a bully on a regular basis? If you homeschool, they haven't! It's the negatives of life and of a public education that make our children better. These are the opportunities to teach your children. If it's their faith or religion you are worried about, you aren't doing your kids any favor by sheltering them from differing views and opinions. They need to learn what it's like to actually have their faith challenged. That can't happen in the bubble you create by home schooling. I don't think there are any reasons you could come up with that would justify homeschooling. Every single person I know who was homeschooled is either woefully under-educated or socially awkward, or both. Are their exceptions? Maybe but I don't know, I've never worked with or met any in my almost 50 years of life.

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    1. For a socialized non-homeschooler, it seems awful rude for you to just barge into a homeschooling blog and bombard the author about how wrong he/she is. I see some flaws in your argumentative essay, you use your opinion to argue instead of facts. And there are a few things that caught my interest, as I have been to school, and been home schooled. Now, when you are at home, learning and suddenly you notice a fever, you can simply tell your teacher/parent, within a few minutes you are free to be up in your room, getting much needed rest, since you are in driving distance of the doctor, a school nurse is not needed.
      At school you would have to rest on a cot until your mom or dad comes to pick you up, and once you get home you are still stressed by the future of make-up homework to come.
      When I first started going to school, I realized that I couldn't talk during class, the only time I could talk was during lunch pretty much, which was only about 30 minutes long, how are you supposed to make friends when you only get to talk for 30 minutes? But when you are home schooled you have much more free time to have playdates and social groups, such as choirs, bands, play groups, church, scouts, after school programs, playing with the neighbor kids... Actually, the only problem I had socially as a homeschooler is that I was always free when my friends were all busy with homework.
      Ugh, I am probably going to regret getting into an argument against a troll, so I am not going to say all of my points. Have a nice day!

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    2. Anonymous (I wish you who choose to comment would at least make up a name!)
      I absolutely do not know nor am I an expert in all of those things your mentioned. That's why I utilize my community resources (my kids attend a 4-H one-day school, take classes, join community activities, etc.). If they have an interest, we try our best to find an expert who can teach/train/mentor them. My mom was a public school teacher for 30 years. She was amazing! I have favorite public school teachers whom I adored. I don't believe my blog spoke down to public school teachers.
      In addition, I mentioned nothing about our faith or religion or praying. I actually do not support school-led prayer.
      I teach my kids about many views, including and especially those that don't agree with my own. (I understand that some homeschoolers aren't like me. That's okay. That's why we homeschool.)
      If you knew us, you'd laugh at the "in a bubble" comment you made.
      I didn't plan to respond since your reply is so general, only negative, and really has nothing at all to do with my original post, but I thought I'd at least clarify a few things.
      I'm glad your kids had a positive public school experience just as I did when I was a kid.

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  13. I used to be homeschooled, since fourth grade actually, I went to a public charter school in fifth grade, I am in sixth grade right now and am still going to that school.
    I admit that I had trouble adjusting to school, and ran into my first ever bully besides the every-once-and-a-while stupid neighborhood kids. But it all worked out in the end, and as much as I miss homeschooling, I am still happy with how things worked out.
    Throughout the years of being homeschooled I have received similar comments, most of them much more subtle and nicer, though still insulting.
    The most insulting thing that happened to me, happened at school, I no longer have a problem with this, it was last year, not a student, it had more to do with my stuttering and adhd, at the beginning of the year they just took these into account and just assumed I belonged in academic support -_- after two terms of severe boredom I was taken out of that class, improved my speech, and got on honor roll. And this year I have been on high honor roll two times, I hope to stay on high honor roll all year and continue to prove my teachers from last year wrong. Another thing that was insulting, they put me in the "leadership group" a group that teaches kids leadership skills, I was apalled when I noticed many kids from academic support, they thought I was at risk! I've never had caffeine in my life! Let alone drugs or alcohol! I am LDS and would be caught dead becoming addicted to any of that stuff! Let alone even tasting it. But oh sure, put the unsocialized homeschooler in the group full of high risk kids. My best friend was in the group too, I stay loyal to that friend, not because I am desperate, but because I care and worry about her, I met her in academic support, she lives in a tiny apartment that smells like smoke.with her mother and step father, most of the things she has she received from family and charity. She is mormon just like me, even though she is older than me, I am sad to see how slowly her testimony is growing. And I was even more sad and shocked when she told me that she was on food stamps. Now don't get me wrong, she is a wonderful and kind girl, a bit awkward socially, but I would never abandon or take advantage of her, and she would never do so to me, you could never ask for a better, more loyal friend.
    I believe I have shocked many of my teachers with my writing, being one of the few who express themselves deeply through writing, and is not afraid to look deep inside yourself, I write how I feel, and learn about myself in doing so. I enjoy a style of writing that make many uncomfortable, I probably get this from years talking to my mother when I was homeschooled, expressing myself, talking about complicated subjects some adults would not understand.
    I have gotten a bit off topic, part of the previously mentioned ADHD, I hope you all have a great day, thank you for bringing up this topic.

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  14. I used to be homeschooled, since fourth grade actually, I went to a public charter school in fifth grade, I am in sixth grade right now and am still going to that school.
    I admit that I had trouble adjusting to school, and ran into my first ever bully besides the every-once-and-a-while stupid neighborhood kids. But it all worked out in the end, and as much as I miss homeschooling, I am still happy with how things worked out.
    Throughout the years of being homeschooled I have received similar comments, most of them much more subtle and nicer, though still insulting.
    The most insulting thing that happened to me, happened at school, I no longer have a problem with this, it was last year, not a student, it had more to do with my stuttering and adhd, at the beginning of the year they just took these into account and just assumed I belonged in academic support -_- after two terms of severe boredom I was taken out of that class, improved my speech, and got on honor roll. And this year I have been on high honor roll two times, I hope to stay on high honor roll all year and continue to prove my teachers from last year wrong. Another thing that was insulting, they put me in the "leadership group" a group that teaches kids leadership skills, I was apalled when I noticed many kids from academic support, they thought I was at risk! I've never had caffeine in my life! Let alone drugs or alcohol! I am LDS and would be caught dead becoming addicted to any of that stuff! Let alone even tasting it. But oh sure, put the unsocialized homeschooler in the group full of high risk kids. My best friend was in the group too, I stay loyal to that friend, not because I am desperate, but because I care and worry about her, I met her in academic support, she lives in a tiny apartment that smells like smoke.with her mother and step father, most of the things she has she received from family and charity. She is mormon just like me, even though she is older than me, I am sad to see how slowly her testimony is growing. And I was even more sad and shocked when she told me that she was on food stamps. Now don't get me wrong, she is a wonderful and kind girl, a bit awkward socially, but I would never abandon or take advantage of her, and she would never do so to me, you could never ask for a better, more loyal friend.
    I believe I have shocked many of my teachers with my writing, being one of the few who express themselves deeply through writing, and is not afraid to look deep inside yourself, I write how I feel, and learn about myself in doing so. I enjoy a style of writing that make many uncomfortable, I probably get this from years talking to my mother when I was homeschooled, expressing myself, talking about complicated subjects some adults would not understand.
    I have gotten a bit off topic, part of the previously mentioned ADHD, I hope you all have a great day, thank you for bringing up this topic.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. (You write very well as a sixth-grader!)
      Our kids have the chance to choose public school at any time. My two youngest kids go to a state school, so despite what some commenters are inferring here, we are not against "government" school, we simply appreciate having a choice.
      Glad you're able to experience different types of education!

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  15. Oops sorry! Posted twice!

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