Left Out

From Growing Without Schooling 15.

A parent wrote that her unschooled child who loves home study feels somewhat left out in spite of going to Sunday school, choir, piano lessons, soccer, swimming, theatre group, etc. I (JH) wrote in reply:

. . . Homeschooled children are certainly, by definition, out of the main stream of their culture, no two ways about it. This will still be true a generation from now, even if my prediction that 10% of children will be home schooled comes true.

I can see how your child would feel left out, but I do want to say that from the age of 11 I felt left out, and never more so than when I was in school. I think that for most children in our society the experience of growing up is an experience of being left out, partly because of our worship of beauty, wealth, power, athletic skill, etc.

Being an outsider was somewhat tough on me during my growing up, and I think I would have been better off if I had felt, and been, somewhat less left out than I was. But it gave me the independence and moral courage I needed to do things in my adult life that most people weren’t doing, to follow work that seemed important.
My point, then, is not only that children would not escape the feeling of being left out even if they went to school, but that if children operate, as yours seem to, from a base of love and support, it doesn’t do them any harm to feel a little unusual and may indeed prove to be an asset.

I think that many of the children at the Ny Lille Skole (see Instead of Education) feel left out some or much of the time. That school, or club, also had its leaders and its followers, its stars and its minor part players, its extroverts and introverts. The school did not cure the ordinary and difficult problems of growing up and getting a sense of one’s own identity and worth. All we could say is that it didn’t make this difficult problem any worse. I would say the same of unschooling. It isn’t and can’t be a solution for many of the problems of being young, or growing up in an anxious and confused world, or in a society that generally has no use for young people. But at least homeschooling doesn’t make those problems worse…