Crosspost: The One Thing You Should Never Ask A Homeschool Kid
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on May 19, 2013.
The local paper does stories on all of the high school graduations, and where the stories for the other school graduations follow the same formula—mention something from the speaker, go with a few quotes from graduates about going out into the world, the homeschool support group graduation story includes quotes from kids talking up homeschooling as a concept.
Don’t ask that question of kids. Seriously, just don’t. No kid should be put in the position of defending and explaining their education to adults.
Aside from the fact that in 2013 it’s not like homeschooling is something nobody’s heard of, that’s just not something you should put on a kid. It’s too much pressure and it makes the kid feel even more like an outsider, an “other,” and not part of mainstream culture. Even if a kid had an absolutely wonderful experience, homeschool apologetic isn’t something a kid should be expected to do.
Parents, don’t ask this of your kids.
Random strangers, don’t put a kid on the spot and start asking questions. It’s not fair to the kid.
I had to put up with random strangers asking me questions about homeschooling since I was six.
Let that sink in for a second.
How in the world would anyone think that’s remotely something that you should put on a six year old? I can’t even count how many times I was wandering around the public library minding my own business looking for interesting books when I’d be stopped by a stranger asking me, “why aren’t you in school?” Now, granted, back in the ’80s, homeschooling was a novelty, but still. It would have been one thing if it had ended with me responding, “I’m homeschooled,” but nope, the next question was, “Is it legal?” Seriously, people would ask a little elementary schooler to explain the legality of their education. No six year old should ever have to cite statutes for any reason, but I spent a good chunk of my early school years explaining the legal status of homeschooling to adults who wouldn’t stop asking questions.
It took me a few years after I finished college before I could begin to look at homeschooling objectively because so many adults spent so many years putting me on the spot, asking me to defend it to them. I still don’t understand why an adult would ask that of a child, especially a very young child, but that’s what happened to me and my siblings. It would make me feel like I was some kind of performing freak show to them.
So next time you encounter a homeschool kid and feel tempted to ask them about homeschooling, resist the urge. No kid should be put on the spot to defend their entire system of education,
And thus ends Kathryn’s rant.