When it comes to schooling, forget stereotypes

Jasen Williams Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Jasen Williams
Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Ever since I was 5, I have been homeschooled.

“You poor child! Do you have any friends?” or “So . . . do you, like, ever get out of the house?” are the normal responses. And similar to the majority of tragedies in the world, these responses are due to stereotypes caused by the loudest and strangest of the crowd of consideration.

May I share a secret with you? We homeschoolers have the same terrible stereotypes about public schoolers. “Oh great, here comes another rude, misbehaved and stuck-up jerk,” sometimes is the initial response without further thought.

The worst part about all this the very simple fact that we are both utterly mistaken and both utterly right. The two sides of this conflict are easy to explain.

We are both wrong about each other because the vast majority of homeschoolers have a great deal of friends of all ages, not to mention a concentrated group that one usually hangs around. Homeschoolers have their own groups that naturally form: debate teams, the jocks . . . you name it. We have our own dances, our own sports, our own drama (unfortunately), our own sports teams, our own parties, and our own hopes and dreams for the future. Last I checked, public schoolers have those things too.

And there is more! We both happen to have the future in this world. We all will have to work with people we do not agree with at some point. A ridiculously small percentage of homeschoolers are not allowed to go out of the house or not have friends. A miniscule number of public and private schoolers are fully rude jerks.

Frankly, it is not honorable of either of us to assert the other is an unworthy alien not worth the time of day.

Yet we are both totally different on another basis. Homeschoolers have the freedom to pick the time, way and where that they can do school. You wanna go to the beach to read science? Can do. You wanna pursue specialized writing courses in persuasion, fiction or science? Have at it.

You wanna have field trips to a Navy weapons facility, a Sheriff coroner’s office, a biomedical startup company, or attorney’s office? Please do. You wanna investigate cake-making, computer code writing or advanced dancing? The budget is the limit.

The largest priority of homeschooling is behind the scenes in all of this. It is the silent agreement in all activities between coordinators and teachers. It is the goal of creating an education for the student, not the student for the education. It is the effort to not only develop the student vocationally, but also morally and intellectually.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not accusing the public or private schools of not doing this. I am merely explaining the reasoning for homeschooling. In this age of open-mindedness, may we not act on our beliefs?

Sure, there are some homeschool students who don’t take advantage of their opportunities nor keep up on their grades, but can the public or private schools boast better? Are all of the incredible opportunities for college, music, sports or military always taken advantage of? Why should you demand otherwise of us?

“Dear Jasen, this is all great, but where is the point in all this? So we are different and alike. We need to ‘be nice’ to each other. How?” asks the sceptic.

I would suggest that we forget about the stereotype entirely. The more disdainful of the differences we are, the less we can move forward. Act as if the other person is entirely a normal human being with their own set of quirks, hobbies and hopes.

Believe that you can learn something from the other person, if it only be to not behave like them, and you will have a whole lesson in human nature.

Having differences shouldn’t really come as a surprise, right? It’s the holidays. If you can get along with your zany relative for three days of Thanksgiving, surely you can get along with a shy fellow or a teen comedian for five minutes.

We already know the drill: act nice and be cool. We already know that our energy is limited and valuable. We already know that some people have the capacity for attention like there is room in outer space.

So let’s grow wisely. Will you help me? Our new mission, should we choose to accept it, is listen, learn, laugh and love. Let’s welcome others, not reluctantly acknowledge. Let’s invite the quiet girl in the corner to eat lunch at our table. Let’s dare to talk to the poor fellow who lost his grandma last Friday. Let’s discuss with the debate addicts. Let’s contend for truth and goodness without being contentious.

The end goal, if you will remember, is not to merely make funny sounds with our mouths, but to support our world. The more of a camaraderie with others that we build, the more we will realize that we are not so different after all. It is something the world needs to be rather strongly reminded about at the moment.