Classmates and I are ‘homeschooling’ specimens

Jasen Williams Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer.

Jasen Williams
Teen Columnist, The Friday Flyer.

One of the funniest lines about homeschooling I have ever heard was spoken the other day by a mom who is still in her early years of home education.

She had asked me what my thoughts were about my education, glancing at my mom before I could answer and saying: “It’s so rare to meet the older ones.”

It is amusing to realize that the current generation is still waiting to see the results of homeschooling, and that my classmates and I are part of the study.

I have had the pleasure of interacting with two types of people who are not homeschoolers: those do not know what to make of homeschoolers, and those who think that they know what to make of homeschoolers.

To the first group’s inquiries, I try my best to give a quick outline of how our family does homeschooling, in addition to other formats employed. For instance, our family sets and enforces start times, employs whatever curriculum or outside class that will best suit the education of each specific student, and expects each of us to make the most of our time.

Predictably soon in the conversation, many people will ask the “social” question, usually entailing something along the lines of “Do you have any friends? How do you interact with others socially?”

I never know what they want in answer. Yes, I suppose that we homeschoolers perceive human interaction via the verbal and optical induction ports (commonly called the “ears” and “eyes”) and generate vibrations along vocal folds, eventually forming sounds with societal meaning called “words.” If we are feeling particularly adventurous, we might move our appendages in motions dubbed “gestures.” Is there more they want answered?

Truth be told, there are indeed some people who feel that they should have had more time with their friends throughout their homeschooling experience; but frankly, they are those who chose not to engage with activities that literally are going on every day.

There also are those who simply are not meant to be homeschooled: they need the communal pressure and more impersonal touch with education found in public and private schools. Each to their own!

I, for one, have had enough of the “social interaction” that is healthy and good, and maybe then some.

To be completely honest, I’m not quite sure how I could get more interaction with my friends in some cases; 14-plus-hour days filled with an alternating mix of classes, work, sports, Boy Scouts and ASB are hard to add to if one wants to interact more with people.

Therefore, I try to gently give the idea to unaware individuals that I have had a solid amount of “socialization” in my high school career.

Certainly, the more you focus on the self-awareness of “I am now socializing” is an awkward and often counter-productive awareness. It’s very similar to the counter-productivity experienced in trying your utmost to fall asleep – it results in your focusing more on the stress of needing sleep than on sleep itself.

In fact, I believe that one of the most prominent distinguishing factors of homeschooled behavior from everyone else is the ability to talk to anyone of all ages and backgrounds, most noticeably with adults. Very rarely have I seen an amiable conversation happen between a public schooler and an adult in an unstilted fashion.

When people assert things about homeschooling is when things get interesting. It used to highly annoy me. Now, I enjoy it like a bad comedy. More often than not, they will talk about the unsocial temperament and the narrow-mindedness of the kids and parents.

I typically take one of the two following approaches based on who is doing the asserting: if the person wants confirmation, I give my two cents about it, and if the person is simply asserting, I toy with them.

The first is much more diplomatic and constructive, and the second is based on my unfortunate lack of caring about those who will not even consider being open-minded.

By toying, of course, I mean that I discover their background and dogma surrounding homeschooling, then coincidentally mention certain friends of mine. Our generation happens to have an interesting dynamic of mistakes threatening it: we may become either so open-minded that we never fulfill the purpose of being open-minded – and thus become narrow-minded in determination to never accept anything as true – or we chomp upon the first invigorating idea concerning something and lack the critical thinking necessary to make our own judgment.

I have already spoken at length previously about the tragic stereotypes between “regular” schoolers and homeschoolers, but I hope that we can use the lessons from this little tension and move on; much like the other issues of disregarding people based on their background, ethnicity, and gender that have occurred formerly in America.

My graduation is within the month, and I can affirm that homeschooling has been one of the most eye-opening and intellectually stimulating opportunities I have ever observed and experienced in others and myself. It is not for everyone, just as not everyone has the same personality, political views, or temperament – life might seem a bit boring otherwise, right?

It is my desire that you have gained a little insight into the specimens of the homeschooling.

Generally, other homeschoolers and I avoid parading the fact that we are homeschooled, much like one would not needlessly draw attention to their English ancestry: it simply is one of the many unique backgrounds in this fascinating situation called life.