What are homeschooled kids like?
I've heard EVERY ONE of the stereotypes. Every stereotype that people feel comfortable hanging on a homeschool kid, though most of those labels can, in all fairness, be hung on any kid on the planet, and often are.
- Homeschoolers are Weird.
- Homeschoolers are Unsocialized.
- Homeschoolers know nothing about the real world.
- Homeschoolers are Fundamental Denim-Wearing Christians.
- Homeschoolers are Poorly socialized.
- Homeschoolers are ADD or on the spectrum.
- Homeschoolers are Over-Protected.
- Homeschoolers are SUPER Smart Geniuses.
- Homeschoolers can't make it in "regular" school.
- Homeschoolers only befriend other homeschoolers.
- Homeschoolers are Hippies.
Why is it OK to stereotype homeschoolers? Why does the world feel it is their right to criticize a lifestyle that they, clearly, do not understand? In the media, homeschoolers are often portrayed with these same stereotypes. It's boring, frankly. Can't anyone THINK for themselves? Have you taken the time to actually speak to some homeschoolers to find out about their lifestyle?
ACTUALLY, the media portrays ALL school-aged kids as shallow stereotypes. So, yeah, we should ALL be aware of that. I dislike the shallow nature of the media in general anyway, and avoid it at all costs.
The homeschool stereotyping has happened to us recently and, frankly, I'm annoyed by it. PO'ed really. Every single child and adult in the world could be "labeled" if one were so crass as to do this. Which I am NOT.
Why are homeschoolers fair game? Why do people actually think they have the right to comment on this major lifestyle decision? Reading an article, knowing a couple of homeschooling families, or seeing a homeschooler on TV does NOT make you an authority. Dang, I have been homeschooling for almost TEN YEARS and *I* am not an authority. I don't have the unreasonable desire to stereotype anyone, EVEN if I see people who could fit into a stereotype easily.
For example, the other day I was at the park and we identified a homeschooling family. The first thing we noticed was that the mother was on the field playing too as the family members hit and fielded balls. All of the kids were playing together, young and old. Lots of laughter and tons of joyful energy. As it happens, the mother was wearing a denim skirt. Had I stopped there, I would never have approached her. Yes, she is a Christian. But, no, she was not sheltering her kids, nor were her kids socially awkward. If she had been wearing denim shorts, I would have not known any more about her than the fact that she was cool, in the know, and very active in the community. Her kids were very engaging and not even remotely protected from the real world. I completely enjoyed meeting them.
Stereotypes are LAZY, generally NEGATIVE, SHALLOW, and, in general, REINFORCE One's Own Opinion. It reduces people to simplified caricatures. It makes it highly unlikely that you will ever actually get to know a person that you have stereotyped. YOUR use of a stereotype speaks more of YOU than it does of any other person.
At lunch today, I asked the six homeschool kids there how THEY would describe themselves, or describe homeschool kids at a whole.
They answered me with this caveat: Well, we'll describe KIDS, not just homeschool kids!
Extra Ordin Harry
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