I was homeschooled in a Christian home from 8th grade on because I was mercilessly teased in 7th grade (tortured is probably not too harsh a word to use on the subject.) It was that period of time where I was just beginning puberty and I was having all kinds of issues with my sexual orientation and gender identity so I’m not really going to get too much into it suffice to serve as backdrop.
My mother homeschooled my sister and I largely because of this, and while the first and second years were hyper-structured like school, she let us start unschooling when I was in 10th grade. This is a style of schooling where we’re not given classroom teaching, but encouraged to accomplish our own study and our own work at our own pace. This was mostly in reaction to my sister and my differences in how we’re wired. I am highly a morning person – I wake early, I can work right away, and I prefer to have my afternoons and evenings free. My sister is a night owl – she gets up late, likes to have ‘her time’ right after waking, and does most of her best work at night.
We had both healthy academic and social lives. I was very smart, and I learned at a higher level than students in my own grade. My sister was much the same – though she hated math and only did what was expected to pass. We went to Bible Study every week where we were able to engage in conversations on topics that were more advanced than we were expected to know. We had friends we could talk to and hang out with at church and in the general area.
It wasn’t until after college that I realized some glaring issues. I absolutely love science, I love dinosaurs, I love space, I love all that kind of physics and chemistry stuff. While I was homeschooled, we learned none of it. I’m now re-educating myself with what I should have had back in high school and it tears me apart knowing my mother actively kept knowledge away from my sister and me. We were Creationists, so we didn’t believe evolution, but if I had been allowed to do the research into it, I’m sure I would have ended up different. Instead of reading actual science, we were encouraged to listen to Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and Ray Comfort.
Additionally, due to the enforcement of strict Christianity in my home, I never explored the sometimes screamingly obvious pansexuality and gender identity problems I have now. I spent almost 14 years of my life denying myself, and now I’m a hyper-anxious ball of right on the brink of exploding into a panic attack. If I had been allowed to explore those things, I may have already transitioned, rather than starting now. I’m also very awkward with intimacy, fueled mostly by the lack of having much experience with the matter.
Some good, some bad aspects. For my academic life I was extremely happy to have gone through it, while wishing I could’ve explored the ‘taboo’ areas a little bit more to be a much more complete academician. Socially I’m extremely happy. Mentally, I despair.
Homeschooling has become a very polarized subject. It is my hope that the Homeschool Reflections series, made up of stories of actual homeschool experiences, both positive and some negative, may cut through some of the hyperbole. I have asked the respondents in this series to be analytical and to discuss both the pros and cons of their experiences, but I have not censored what they have written. My posting these stories should not be construed as endorsement the opinions expressed therein. What you read in this series will vary, but it is my hope that each installment will be thought provoking and have something positive to offer to the discussion.