Do you perceive of your academic or social abilities differently today than you did when you were being homeschooled?
I had the best of both worlds. I went to public school and had many friends who were home taught. I can relate to both. Had I been homeschooled, I would have thought that everyone who thought differently than me was to be ostracized.
Definitely! As a teen, I put the blame on myself for my lack of social skills, and I felt happy to be safe at home. I believed that kids would probably just pick on me for my Christian faith and my awkwardness if I were at public school. Now, in hindsight, I believe that more continuous socialization starting in my younger years would have prevented my social anxiety and awkwardness from getting so out of hand. Although I likely would have been shy even in public school, at least I would have had a couple friends and learned coping mechanisms for relating to others.
Academically, I realize now that I missed the opportunity to learn critical thinking and respect for different opinions during my youth. All our homeschooling materials presented a consistent Christian worldview, and my family’s opinions were never challenged. As a result, even into my early twenties, I believed that people who didn’t share my worldview were either deceived or in rebellion against God.
Absolutely yes. When I was homeschooled I used to laugh at the socialization question. I thought I was perfectly socialized, no problem whatsoever. It was only later that I realized how wrong I was about that. As for academics, I used to swear by homeschooling as the cause of my academic success until someone pointed out to me that, with my parents’ emphasis on education, I would almost certainly have also excelled if I had been sent to public school. That really made me think, because it was so true. Many of my close friends in college had been sent to public school, but because their parents valued education and were involved, they were academically just as prepared, and often more so, as I was. Academically, I now think what matters more is the parents’ emphasis on education and involvement in their children’s learning, not whether children are home schooled, private schooled, or public schooled.
I considered myself well-prepared for the longest time. When all you’re looking at for your life is being married, raising kids and being a good wife, you don’t need chemistry, you don’t need real friends. You’re not supposed to share private stuff anyway, that leads to gossiping faster than you believe. And after all men want to be the heroes, they want to be admired. A woman smart enough to go to college would just make any man feel stupid, she might question him and that’s something you want to avoid. If he can explain things to her, he’ll feel strong, admired and respected. Yes, I can say I felt like I was going to be a good housewife and I still believe that this was true – I would’ve been well-prepared for that.
Now that I depend on my education to live, I feel every day just how much I don’t know and how much harder things are for me. I will do well in school for weeks and suddenly I’m hit with something that I lack basic knowledge of, and I’ll have to start from scratch to get it. Especially in math, I don’t think I could have even helped my husband with finances if I stayed with my family… Here’s a confession: I can’t calculate. I mean, I couldn’t do the easiest calculations and I’m having major issues even today. A good example would be the multiplications. I still need to use my fingers, and it takes me very long to answer. (And no, I have been tested, I do not have any calculation disorders. I just can’t do it.)
I think I could be “a math person” if I had been adequately equipped in primary school to master the concepts. (Also, in homeschool circles, the gender divide between maths and sciences, and arts and humanities seems to be more pronounced.)
As for social abilities, I find that I am coming around to be more like the person I was before puberty and before I was paralyzed with fear over modesty teachings and gender role mandates. I am more myself and more comfortable socially, as a result.
At the time I felt that homeschooling was superior academically, but I felt that I was not smart enough to capitalize on that. I struggled to stick with my self-taught subjects in high school and though I had many interests I did not get to explore many of them. I felt like this was my fault for not pushing myself harder somehow. Socially, I felt very lonely growing up, but I protested to anyone who would listen that homeschoolers were perfectly socialized! I went to violin lessons after all, and I could interact with other people just fine!
Back then I thought that I was about 100 times smarter than every other kid on the planet. My parents taught us that kids in public schools were being brainwashed, that they were dumb, and that their parents didn’t love them. I treated all “public-schoolers” with disdain and pity. It wasn’t until later that I realized how very wrong I was. Not only were other kids more socially comfortable than I was, they were better at math, and knew facts about history, anatomy, and science that I had never heard. It was shocking and I felt like I had been lied to.
I am much more confident in my intelligence and ability to use my creativity to make meaningful contributions to society. Although it was not homeschooling precisely that undermined my confidence, my church damaged my vision of myself severely. Homeschooling simply made me unaware of my potential. Since I was so depressed in high school, I think that going to public school would have made the problem worse because I would have had bad grades. Homeschooling gave me a very flexible timeframe for my lessons and kept me from giving up on myself. When I got to college and found that I performed well, it blew my mind. I was preoccupied with figuring out the limits of my intelligence, so I pushed myself to the max and graduated summa cum laude. It was amazing to finally realize that I wasn’t stupid or awkward or insignificant.