So, a funny thing happened at lunch last week. An acquaintance made the comment to me, "Homeschool kids are weird," followed quickly by....."Oh, not YOUR daughter, she's perfectly normal....but you know, ok...well you know, usually, homeschool kids are weird." I literally said nothing in return but merely stared at her until she changed the subject. Since then I've given this a lot of thought. She's right. Homeschooled kids are weird.
Yep, I'm saying it.....homeschool kids are weird - in hundreds of different ways. They are weird for hundreds of different reasons, but being homeschooled isn't one of them. It's a casual fallacy to put forth the argument that homeschooling causes children to be weird. In order for an effect to be correctly linked to a cause certain "rules" have to be followed.
- Generally, if C occurs, then E will occur, and
- Generally, if C does not occur, then E will not occur ether.
What has happened, in my opinion, that results in homeschooling being thought to make kids weird is known as a Post Hoc casual fallacy - Because one thing follows another, it is held to cause the other.
Why do I believe that? Well let's look again at what is required to link a cause to an effect. If homeschooling (C) occurs, then a child will be weird (E occurs) **and** if homeschooling (C) does not occur then a child will not be weird (E will not occur). So what this means, at least as I understand it, is that generally if homeschooling occurs, children will be weird. Well homeschooled kids are weird so there's that. Now, if homeschooling doesn't occur then children will not be weird. Wait, hold up....so if children aren't homeschooled they aren't weird? Well - and here's where saying homeschooling causes kids to be weird derails - children who aren't homeschooled are in fact .....weird. Just spend a day at your child's daycare, public/private school for proof that kids are weird.
Ah, ha! That's it! There's the answer. Kids are weird. Period. All kids, every kid, in some way, can be labeled 'weird'. This meets the 'rule' that if "C" occurs (you're a kid) then "E" will occur (you're weird) and if you aren't a kid (never born) then you aren't weird. We can't say that once you aren't a kid you are no longer weird because truth be told ALL people are weird. I'm weird, you're weird, she's weird, he's weird, your mom was weird, your dad was too and let's not get started on how weird your siblings are!
But the fact that adults are weird actually further supports the statement that kids are weird. Weird kids grow up to be weird adults. Oh sure, sure YOU don't think you're weird or that your kids are weird but let someone else, who doesn't know you and isn't weird in similar ways, spend a little time with you (or your kids) and they are going to be able to tell you how you are weird! Trust me. Granted, as adults, we find various, more seemingly polite, ways to state that an adult is 'weird'. We find a lot of different ways to do that. She's 'off'. He's 'different. They are a bit 'odd'. She marches to the beat her of her drum. He's very free-spirited. And on and on and on...
Somehow though, once we cross into adulthood, we lose our memory of the weird kid we once were and convince ourselves that we are 'normal' - normal being the positive opposite of weird. In truth, we as adults don't stop being weird and start being normal. What we do do (ha! I said do-do), through the course of growing up and entering adulthood is develop proper coping mechanism for life and that, combined with the YEARS of societal conditioning we've been exposed to by other adults (adults who are more adultier than us at the time), teaches us how to FUNCTION in society. And *that* brings me to my overreaching point. Kids are weird. Period. Public school kids, private school kids, homeschool kids, rich kids, middle class kids, poor kids, tall kids, short kids, gaming kids, science/math kids, theatre kids, sports kids, kids who do nothing but read all the time....and on and on. Public school, homeschool, science, sports, and reading don't make kids weird. They come that way, usually they don't fall from the 'weird' tree from which they sprung and more often than not they are a blending of the weirdness of their mom and their dad creating a whole new weirdness all their own.
People are weird and they fall into two categories (for all of us) the weird people who are the ones who aren't weird in the same way you're weird and the weird people who are your brand of weird. That's why we spend our lives searching for 'our tribe'. Once you find your tribe life becomes so much grander! That's what homeschooling *can* be. Finding your tribe. Oh sure, within the homeschooling community you still have to hunt around for homeschoolers who are your brand of weird - fundamental religious homeschoolers, freethinkers, secular, unschoolers, traditional and on and on. The real reason we secretly LOVE to have labels is because it's the easiest system we've come up with to help us find our tribe. The more things we have in common the greater the chances of finding folks who are our brand of weird. So it makes sense that liberals, conservatives, people of color, gays, math geeks, gamers, uber-religious, atheists, quilters, book lovers, musicians, and on and on seek each other out - using labels. If we can find people who think like we do, like what we do, live like we do the greater the chance that they are weird like we are and then we've found our tribe!
Sure, there's a downside to this - only exposing ourselves to people who think like we do reinforces our preconceived ideas of the world and of other people (and their brand of weird). So one must be careful and guard against rejecting another person outright for thinking or believing differently than ourselves to a certain degree, for if all we ever study is that which we know we learn nothing. The bigger issue here though, I believe, is the word/label 'weird'. If we can accept that all people - adults and children - are weird, then instead of using the word 'weird' to describe a negative - more specifically a person who isn't able to function in their setting - we should talk about a person's functionality. Can this adult or child function in their setting? If not, does changing the setting help the child/adult function better? So coming back to homeschooling to use as an example - a child is not doing well in public school and after numerous measures have been taken by the parents/teachers it is decided that the child will be homeschooled. Said child functions better at home than s/he did in public school even though s/he still has struggles and is weird. As time passes and homeschool does in fact prove to be the best setting for him, he is able to function better and better. That's what matters.
How well do YOU function in your setting - home, work, school, society? We all have to develop coping mechanisms for functioning in society, that's a bond we can all share and one that should make us more empathetic to those who struggle to do so because this shit can be HARD. My husband is an introvert. When he comes home from work - where he has talked with, dealt with, been with people ALL day, he's drained. He has to recharge his battery for the next day at work. He spends some time alone in his 'man cave' before wandering out to join Punky and I for the rest of the evening. I am fine with that because I empathize with how hard it must be for him and I appreciate the fact that he does go out and works all day (peopleing) to provide the means that allow for me to remain at home with Punky. Punky is a blend of her dad and me. She's extroverted and introverted. I have no idea what the hell that's called. Basically it means that she loves to be around people, feeding off their energy, and then when she's done...she is DONE and wants to be home again. There's also no rhyme or reason to when her switch flips to the 'off' position. Me, I can hang out until the wee hours of the morning if the environment is stimulating enough and still come home and need to wind down before being able to go to sleep. Well, I used to be like that until middle age started to cause my body to betray me!
But at the end of the day being able to function, in a healthy manner, is what we should be concerning ourselves with in raising our child - hell even in trying to conquer demons of our own. It shouldn't matter what kind of 'weird' a kid is as long as that kid isn't harming others and can function. If a child is harmful to himself or others or just incapable of functioning in a variety of settings, seek help. That's not weirdness, that's a cry for help.
As a side note - there's a phenomenon that I believe *is* caused by homeschooling and I think it's a benefit! The longer your child homeschools (or if your child has always homeschooled) a noticeable difference takes shape between them and public schooled children, especially as they enter the middle school years. Homeschooled children are usually extremely comfortable with who they are and what they like. Basically they let their 'weird' flag fly because in the setting that they are in they function so well that they are completely comfortable with who they are and their own weirdness. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. In fact, I think we'd have a lot less angry adults in our world if they too had been placed in a setting as a child that allowed them to be free to be who they were - in all their glorious weirdness. As adults they'd be much happier I suspect.