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Education

Published on October 24th, 2014 | by Christie

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Homeschooling Education – Good or bad?

If you are of the homeschooled persuasion, you have probably, on occasion, had a strong desire to throttle a public schooler. This was probably not due to any violent tendencies inherent to homeschoolers, but rather due to the intense frustration that many homeschoolers experience when confronted with the extreme stupidity of “normal” teenaged culture.

The world of “normal” adolescent culture is shallow, at best. Standard high schooled culture places emphasis upon the superficial (looks, athletic prowess, clothing, popularity), rather than on the internal (intelligence, morality). As a reflection of this, the conversations of high schoolers all too frequently revolve around Other People, rather than around Ideas; popular teen magazines deal almost exclusively with commercialized ideals of personal beauty and popularity, rather than on issues that might actually mean something in the grand scheme of things. The social setting of high schools favors the strong or attractive over the smart or moral; those who are most successful are those who are most adept at following the lead of their peer group, following the orders of their teachers, obeying the dictates of fashion, correctly playing the mandated social games.

This sort of mentality is frequently quite quite baffling to homeschoolers. Those used to learning for the sheer joy of aquiring knowledge may find it difficult to understand those who engage in scholastics in order to satisfy the demands of teachers, or in order to eventually “get a good job”. Those who dream of one day engineering a moon base, becoming a concert violinist, or writing wondrous stories may find it startling to encounter someone whose primary ambition is to ask So and So out on a date. As a consequence, homeschoolers occasionally either reject or are excluded from the company of high schoolers; the two groups differ not only in educational philosophy, but also in life philosophy, and on occasion the two philosophies are irreconcilable.

It seems that homeschoolers come off rather the worst in these matters. There has yet to be an incident involving a group of homeschoolers taunting an isolated high schooler for using too many “big words”, nor are homeschoolers noted for deliberately avoiding or excluding high schoolers whom they deem too intellectual or “uncool”.  Few high schoolers lie awake at night wondering if they are sane and the rest of the world insane, while this activity is frightfully familiar to many homeschooled teens. High schoolers, at least, can feel secure in the knowledge that they are the normal ones; homeschoolers feel more like alien observers of a blitheringly idiotic conformist culture, which they are unable to enjoy, and yet unable to escape from.

How can this situation be remedied? Attempts to wean high schoolers away from the conformist mindset more often than not end in failure; those who quit high school and become homeschooled are almost always those who were already intelligent individualists, outcasts from the social structure of “normal” adolescent culture. The complacent conformism displayed by the majority of high school students is, of course, quite frustrating. But what can one homeschooler do? How do you describe the ecstacy of spending an entire day exploring a library to a high schooler who reads only in order to complete school assignments? How can you share with a high schooler accustomed to following whoever or whatever was popular the experience of thinking for oneself? How can you hold a discussion on Philosophy with a high schooler who would far prefer to discuss Who Likes Whom and Why? How can you convince high schoolers to open their eyes and see the gigantic universe swirling around them when they would prefer to concentrate instead on the narrow segment of the universe composed of themselves and their peer group?

The answer to the questions posed in the above paragraph is: “I don’t know.” Really, I haven’t the foggiest of how to go about defeating the evils of conformist adolescent culture…the formation of this culture is not merely the fault of compulsory education, but is rather the product of an inherently flawed society. I’m afraid that restructuring society as a whole is a rather difficult proposition. Therefore, the best I can offer to my fellow homeschooled “aliens” is a piece of advice: Always remember that you are not alone! There are other intelligent teenagers out there who are just as bewildered as you are by the mindlessness of popular teenaged culture; seek other homeschoolers out, and place copies of “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” in the hands of all intelligent high schoolers you encounter. If you dislike “normal” adolescent culture (and I cannot see who wouldn’t), join with other homeschoolers and invent an alternative adolescent culture! If you happen to live in an area low on homeschoolers, begin conversing with teenaged homeschoolers online instead. Eventually, homeschoolers will take on the world…for now, focus on fighting the isolation of individual homeschoolers. Learn, and live, and laugh…and find others who you can discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything with.

 




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