Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homeschoolers are Weird

Guest Poster:  Doctor Who

My mother and I recently read a blog post called "Why are Homeschooled Kids so Annoying?" Basically it states that if a long-time homeschooler decides to go to school, they will automatically be tagged as "weird" because they are an actual person. You know, with a personality. I happen to have been one of them. A kid who went to school.

In 2011, I decided to try middle school. I don't know why the thought came over to me; I guess I wanted to see what "pop culture" was and how it worked. I was not impressed with what I saw.

From the moment I entered my first classroom I saw the looks on their faces as most of them judged me. Some of the girls who I sat near were old classmates (from third grade). They didn't recognize me, or they acted like they didn't. Which gave me a hint that they knew I had been homeschooled. Or that they were waiting to see if I was "ok" to be friends with.

I went through the day seeing people who I had gone to school with before and those kids not knowing it was me. The next day was different. I made friends, but not the "higher up" friends on the food chain. The popular kids. The way we said it, the weird, outcasts. The kids who mostly don't even talk to each other. They took me in as much as they could, which was not much. One of the more popular and well-liked girls of the school gave me a test drive, but she didn't really give me a chance.

So, I spent school either seeming to be invisible or with my little group of misfits. Four or five friends from kindergarten (which I tried for about six months) or third grade (which I tried for about two months) greeted me and we caught up a bit. That gave me a little bit more confidence, but not nearly enough.

As I think back on it, I remember the way the kids would look at me or not look at me. I was weird. I was the Homeschool New Kid. I tried to be me when talking to other kids, expressing my love for K-Pop and British sci-fi dramas, but as soon as I did the kids started ignoring me OR tried to get me to love Justin Beiber. Only one girl, in one class, was actually interested in the fact that I knew more about Korea than just it's name. I know it's culture, music, some language, even the time of the day in Korea. Everyone else found it weird.

I'm not even sure some of my teachers liked me.

The thing is that schooled kids don't get individuality, I think. And that's the best thing about homeschooling is getting to be yourself. What I saw in middle school was Justin Beiber, Twilight, and boys who acted arrogant.

K-Pop's biggest boy band: 
Super Junior
The schooled kids always asked about socialization, whether I know enough, and if I have any friends. The truth is, we do have lives and we are actually people! You may find that shocking and totally unbelievable, but you have to face the facts that there are people who live quite happily, thank you, outside of pop culture.

When I went to school, I was immediately discarded. Put into a position that I couldn't talk to anyone without making them weird or making myself more weird.

I currently have some good friends who are going to school after being homeschooled. They are what kids would call weird. They're what I would call "Interesting". Or WEIRD, in a good way. Like something you would call your best friend!

They are throwing themselves into school in the middle of the year, just as I did in 2011. I think about them and their personalities and how they act around people and then I think about the kids at school.
And then I think, 'Oh no, they're screwed."
I don't want these people, these really good people, to get screwed up by school kids who probably don't even know what individuality even means. I fear for them, honestly. I don't want them to go to school, show their true colors, and have people discard them for being weird.

For homeschool kids who are very out there, like my friends going to school, I've been to school and I know what could happen. These are very interesting and nice people who smile and talk to everyone. But when I tried being social, I found myself sitting in the back all by myself.

Even now, I have no idea what "normal" actually means to those kids because I, for one, am not normal. I am as far from normal as you can possibly get. And I'm proud of it and I hope my friends will be proud of their weirdness too.

In school kids eyes, being weird is something to be feared. 
For homeschoolers, it's a compliment.

Even if my friends are sitting alone in the back, I hope they don't dread it, going to school. I hope they think "It's not because of me, it's because of them. They just don't get it."

Dedicated to:  Zoe, Julian, Tyler, Sarah, and Cole


May 8, 2012:  This post is featured in this week's Carnival of Homeschool Blogs!
 This post has also been featured in other homeschool venues.

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  1. I moved a couple times thru. my grade school and high school years. In fifth grade, we only moved across town, but I was surprised at how different the school was from my old school. When I was 14, we moved to Texas for a year. That was an entirely different culture from what we have here in the Midwest. There were three groups in the school, and each group took extraordinary pride in,who they were and where they came from. The Kickers were the cowboys and girls. They wore boots and big cowboy hats everywhere they went. There were also the Surfers. They were the cool kids who liked to go to the beach all the time. We lived about 40 minutes away from Padre Island. And there were also the Chicanos, or the Mexicans who lived in the area. They broke down into groups as well. The migrant worker kids came in a couple weeks after school started and left a couple weeks before school ended. They dressed poorer and spoke Spanish more, but they were still a pretty people always listening to music and dancing. In fact, school dances were very different than around here. Everyone danced and a lot. In this area, people were more reserved, and they didn't dance like that. When I first walked into that school I thought I was in a different country. Spanish was spoken. Kickers walked down the hall looking big and impressive. Surfers walked around tanned and sleek and cool. And here I was, a weird kid from some unknown and unpopular state like Illinois. I was told often how no other state compared to the big state of Texas. The culture was different in many other ways as well. Everyone, from the most popular to the toughest kid, had school spirit. No one was too cool for school spirit like they could be in this area. In Texas, they used to join pinkies and wave their arms while they sang the school song. The toughest kid in the school joined pinkies with the most popular cheerleaders, and for a moment everyone was one. It was the funniest sight I'd ever seen. But for them, it was normal. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we all walk into new places and those new places will seem like different cultures even within one town or state or country. And in my experience, it takes about a year to make friends. In Texas, after I made good grades, near the end of the school year, the teachers recommended me to an elite group of kids who also made good grades. It was a school club. We would get together and talk about all kinds of issues, racism within the school, politics, popularity in school. One time we even talked about what it's like to be the new kid, since I was the new kid. And I found out that they didn't think I was weird like I thought. They were curious, and they didn't make the first move to be my friend, but they really weren't as concerned about me as I was concerned about me, which surprised me. After all, who was the most important person to me in my life? Me. lol At the same time, who was the most important person to them in their lives? Only them. We laughed about that because, as kids, we realized we were a bit self centered. So I tell this long story to make a point, which is that it takes time to make new friends in a new place. And each place is a different culture in its own way. You call it popular culture, but that's a generalization when you consider that each school is its own culture, especially if you travel outside the Midwest. It takes about a year to find one good pal. Unfortunately, we moved back to Illinois after that one year in Texas. I often wonder what path I'd taken had we stayed throughout high school. But if you ever decide to go back to school, or when you start college, just remember, it takes time to find a friend. And no one is watching you as much as you are watching you. That can be a huge burden lifted from your shoulders if you can remember that - Kendra

    1. Good take on it Kendra. Myself, I never did get along in Texas, but one thing about being older, friends can be hard to come by. Don't know why that is, but it's true. :)

  2. I went to school too, liz. I TOTALLY get how you feel.
    Except I was actually made fun of, until I yelled at a girl in class to stop.
    They would laugh at my drawings and make fun of my voice and my hair, and the things I wore. My friends were actually out of state. XD
    I had my close friends hate me, I have had my best friend trio outcast me because they liked each other better, I have had friends who are so troubled that I wasn't allowed to hang out with them and I DIDN'T WANT TO EITHER!
    One of my screwed up friends cousens actually threw baby kittens at nails poking out of the walls for fun =/ it was really disturbing.
    And her 14 year old sister had a baby and...as I recall her Grandfathers bed was a dogs...
    Which made no sense..I got SO confused.
    They were just screwed up. AND her dad was so scary O_O
    They all made fun of my cute little girl clothes D:
    And one day for the last day of school I straitened my hair (my mom actually did)
    and it looked AMAZING THANK YOU! People made fun of me o_o I was like MAKE UP YOUR MIND PEOPLE!
    And my art never got put up =/ they totally discluded me in the photography subject. I did nothing. He told me I had a bad camera and I couldnt participate...It was really good! I took so many pictures and videos with it!
    So I sat there drawing anime. The nurse liked me. She let me go home a lot for no reason. She got my pain. It was pretty nice. I made really bad grades because they would move too fast, and gave me the wrong study guide O_O
    My other school, Shining Rivers, didn't teach me anything but croseting and knitting.
    It was really fun though, just no learning!
    My OTHER SCHOOL Saint Rose, the teacher ate candy in front of us, and we did CIRCLE THE COW. We circled pictures! And practiced fancy N's! Then in SECOND grade we were doing full cursive centanses and hard math I didn't learn in first. So, I was held back a grade! How wonderful! I was so upset. That lead up to when I was 10 and in a different school, kids made fun of me for being held back O_O NOT MY FAULT THEY DIDNT TEACH ANYTHING ELSE BUT CIRCLE THE COW!
    Homeschooling has been amazing. I have met really wonderful boys AND girls, and I'm not afraid to express myself anymore.

  3. What a terrific article ... I'm off to post share this on my Facebook page. "Dr. Who," you're an eloquent, perceptive writer. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Great post, Dr. Who! And good for you, for understanding the value of your individuality and for your ability to see through the dumb superficial stuff. Also, "weird" is one of my top criteria for potential friends! :)

  5. love this article dr. who, i wasn't home schooled but i some how ended up very opinionated and idealist and full of individuality, this did not bode well for me through school. i always felt stifled and slowly my true self became forgotten. i didn't conform just became bitter and reclusive. now at 25 i'm finally myself again and i have little ones i'm homeschooling and they will be attending a co-op school part time. AND I HOPE THEY WILL BE AS FREE AND AWESOME AS YOU!!! don't ever ever let that fade away, love you dr. who, hope to read more articles from you :)

  6. OMG. You love KPOP. I love you. I haven´t been homeschool and thus was one of the "weird" ones. Now I work as a graphic designer, have the best of collegues, some close friends and a lot of internet friends, who get me. I live the life of a mori girl and maybe maybe you would like to exchange some emails with me? My address is blumennelly(at)gmail(dot)com. And my current crush is T.O.P. from Big Bang (sssssh!) :)
    Thank you for your wonderful post!!!


  7. Middle school is the worst time to go back to traditional school because nobody is comfortable in their own skin.

  8. I remember working at the local pool when I was in high school. I worked with a kid that was SUPER nice, and we all really liked him. But, he was home schooled and you could tell. Unfortunately for me, at the time I didn't realize how much more prepared he was for the real world. I kept thinking, I'll NEVER do this to my kids. They don't fit it, they won't have friends, etc. WOW, what a wake up call. I finished High School and you know how many of those kids (some 500 in my graduating class) that I see even on a monthly basis?? Oh, you know, just one. (i should mention she's my cousin) ... I now look back and Joe (the home schooled guy) and think about why i thought he couldn't relate to me... well, duh, because he couldn't. I was superficial and completely taken over by what other people needed or wanted me to be rather than having my OWN interests, i had shared interests with my friends. Most of which I don't even enjoy now, OR they are my bad habits that I wish I would have never been introduced to (hello reality tv). Either way, I am glad that at the time I looked up to Joe for his individuality, but I was confused and so sure that it wouldn't be a benefit for his future. Looking back, I realize that there were a LOT of things I had wrong and this is definitely one of them. It was really cool to see what kids like me looked like from the perspective of a home schooled child, which was really written quite well! Thanks Doctor who. <3

    1. Mae, thanks SO much for your comments. I will definitely pass your story along to my daughter...

  9. I think kids who are considered weird were probably "weird" anyway. Take my brother for instance, he went to public school as did I and my younger brother. Out of the 3 of us, most people definitely consider Jason to be weird. He's 32 year old, ex-Air Force, IT guy who flies model planes as a hobby all over the country (America). He has doubly opinionated, holds hundreds if not thousands of "interesting" facts in his head just in case he is caught in a position where he has to call on such facts for conversation and he's just "that guy." He taught himself 2 instruments, listened to country music when everyone else was listening to R&B and the list goes on. Soooo I think a kid is either more prone to join the ranks of the many or to stand out in a crowd. I do believe that home schooled children are given more opportunity to stand-out, to be themselves but that there are fully public schooled kids who are and/or will be "weird" just because they are interested in off-the-beaten path things. Nice article. Very.


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