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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Awkward Homeschoolers

I'm not so sure anyone else noticed, but it was painfully clear to me:

He was clueless.

The lanky kid strolled down the hall trying to act cool, but there was a nervous twitch in his gait. He was unsure of where he was going. The building was unfamiliar. The social expectations foreign. He was a lost figure in the midst of a sea of knowledgeable, comfortable, normal kids. The way he kept glancing at the paper in his hand made him look like a tourist from another land.

He was lost.

Over the next few months I watched him as he sat in the front of all his classes, ate lunch by himself in one of the locker rooms, didn't really make any friends and never talked to anyone outside of class. He didn't belong in this world. He was socially inept and awkward.

He was a homeschooler.

Those poor awkward homeschoolers.

"What school do you come from?" a classmate would ask.

"I was homeschooled," he'd reply.

That's typically where the conversation would die. No one cared to learn more about homeschooling. It was different, unfamiliar, and that was enough for them. Besides, this kid was weird.


But as I look back on myself, now from the perspective of a few years and experience, I was no more awkward than any other student entering a new school filled with kids who had known each other since preschool. Granted, I may have willingly challenged the system a bit more coming from an educational model that encourages dialog between students and their instructors. I may have been more vocal about a few things now and again because I was uninhibited by years of peer pressure to conform. I may have been a tad of a loner, not willing to push myself on others, but that's because I only ever really had one truly incredible friend at a time. I wasn't looking for a social circle.

So are teenage homeschoolers sometimes awkward?


They're about as awkward as any teenage kid. Toss a student from any background into a new situation and you're bound to have a certain amount of dysfunction.

That's life.

And it has almost nothing to do with homeschooling.


Not long after starting "real school" this young man ate lunch with a diverse circle of friends. He was active in the school community. He excelled in his classes. He even got to be homecoming king once...

Not too shabby for a homeschooler.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father


Jill in Kentucky said...

Two of my homeschooled sons who went to institutional school in 10th grade were prom kings too! For what that is worth!

mary grace said...

Poor form! That post needed photographic evidence of you in full homecoming regalia in order to satisfy the masses!

And yes, I agree that some homeschoolers are certainly awkward. My Jo is not one of them; my Atticus is, if only because he has no clue how to suffer those who haven't had the advantage of spending hours curled up with college-level physics textbooks. But, I quote Voddie Bauchaum in reference to weird homeschoolers. "I went to a government school, and there were weird kids there, too." :-)

Robin E. said...

"I went to a government school, and there were weird kids there, too."

I love it. This is pretty much exactly what I came to post in my comment. I'm tired of people making remarks about socially odd homeschoolers, as if they own the market on that (such as the blog linked to in yesterday's post). There were some kids in my public schools that were so socially awkward that the strangest homeschooler I've ever met looked like Miss or Mr. Popularity in comparison.

My opinion is that there are some kids that are going to be socially odd no matter what educational choice their parents opt for, but at least if they are homeschooled they can be saved from the worst of the ridicule and bullying. We all know odd ducks in church or the work place, but no one hazes them or physically assaults them. Don't even get me going about things that are felonies "in the real world" just get a wrist slap in public schools.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I always like to have people try to figure out which one was homeschooled: myself, my sister, or my brother. Common sense tells them it was me because I am the youngest (my brother graduated from high school in 1987, my sister in 1992, and I would have in 1996 had I not been homeschooled - by then I was in college full time). But just by a description of each of us, people will always pick my brother.

He went to public school from K through 12th except for one year in a private school. He was a complete nerd, shy, rather socially awkward, was all into debate club and It's Academic. My sister wasn't outgoing, but she excelled in music and had a large circle of friends. I'm extremely outgoing, loved being on stage and in the spotlight, tons of friends that I hung out with all the time and so on. I was the only one who was homeschooled.

I've been told many times that I'm not "like a homeschooler" or they've never met any former homeschoolers. I then love to tell them various people they personally know who were also homeschooled. Shocks them every time. Then I remind them that there are weird homeschoolers and there are weird public schoolers and there are weird private schoolers and fact is when you grow up you don't introduce yourself as "Heather who went to Main Street High School" any more than you'd introduce yourself as "Heather who was homeschooled." That would be silly.

(The fact that I was homeschooled comes up more than it would for many, though, because it's my easy answer for why I choose to homeschool my own kids... because I was and I love it of course!)

Luke Holzmann said...

Jill, that's awesome <smile>.

Mary Grace... honestly, I'm not sure there is photographic evidence of said event. ...hmm... I should look into that.

And, yes, Robin, you're totally right: There are awkward kids in public schools too. They just don't know what to blame it on then <smile>.

Heather, that's one of the best reasons to homeschool: Because you loved it. It's totally the case for me and my wife as well <smile>.


Karen Joy said...

I *LOVE* all of the comments here.

Not discounting anything anyone has said here, but I have frequently had "chicken and egg" discussions with other homeschooling mothers: Does homeschooling create oddness? Or is it just that a mother of an odd child might choose homeschooling more often? Or, some other, third choice?

I tend to the first: Homeschooling fosters oddness, if not creates it. HOWEVER, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The world needs more of the creative, willing-to-be-different characters that institutional schools rarely produce.

Well, I guess I agree with the second, too. Kind parents who are willing to make the investment in their "different" children, instead of just throwing them to the wolves in a Darwinistic school setting, will often choose to homeschool their child, thereby, IMO giving the best chance for a productive, satisfying adulthood.

And, yes, there are "different" children in public (or other) schools, as well as social butterflies who were homeschooled. (My kinship/Bible study leader is a wise-beyond-his-28-years young man who was homeschooled for all of K-12. He is extremely social and personable, the kind who will eat live goldfish on a dare but who will also dive into tough topics in the Word with unique and powerful insight.)

Karen Joy said...

Whoops. Just checked my kinship leader's FB account. He's 27, not 28. :)

Luke Holzmann said...

Karen, due to the complexity of humans, I wouldn't be surprised if there are both--as you point out--chicken and egg examples <smile>.


Gombojav Tribe said...

As one of those awkward homeschoolers who is homeschooling her children, I appreciate this post! :-) I loved being homeschooled and now I love homeschooling. I'm OK with being a little weird.

Luke Holzmann said...

Gombojav, being a little weird is great <smile>.



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