Now, I should first point out that it's ridiculous to judge an entire group of people and an entire range of educational philosophies on just one or two people you don't even know very well. And that there is a vast amount of proof that homeschoolers and unschoolers turn out just fine, as evidenced by thousands of grown un and homeschoolers. But right now, I want to specifically address the whole socially awkward thing.
A few things come to mind when I think of why these people could possibly be considered socially awkward (oh how I hate those two words when put together):
- Like any other skill set, social skills differ greatly from person to person, regardless of their schooling (or lack thereof). For some people social interaction is extremely easy: they find knowing what to say and when to say it, how to behave around different people, to be second nature. Others have to work hard at it: to make a conscious effort to learn what is socially normal and then work to be that if they want to. How easily those skills come, despite what a ridiculously large amount of anti-homeschoolers have to say, does not make a person any better or worse a person for it. It's simply yet another thing that varies vastly between individuals. (As a side comment, I'd say I'm someplace between the really-easy-social-interaction and the really-difficult-social-interaction. As are probably most people!)
- Sometimes people who refuse to dress or act in a way that conforms with societal expectations are considered weird or outsiders (this definitely overlaps with number 1, as well). I'm thinking of some nasty comments on a video interview of Emi along the lines that because she's wearing a cloak in the video, she must not know how to "be normal"/interact with "normal" people. I mean, that toooootally makes sense! (/sarcasm) And of course, blaming this phenomena on the fact someone doesn't go to school is pretty silly, considering how many schooled people have unique styles (though I must admit that in the interesting clothing and hair category, I think unschoolers are leading. :-P)!
- There is a certain...type, I guess, of homeschooler I've come across, where the kids interact mostly or entirely with other homeschooled kids and often within certain belief systems. This sometimes leads to teens and young adults who don't have the vocabulary of slang, or the (overtly expressed) knowledge of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll that most other young people seem to. This is then, apparently, interpreted as social awkwardness.
For the third group, I believe negative reactions towards them shows a lack of respect for different social/cultural groups. Because that's basically all it is: the differences to be found in different social circles, groups, and cultures!
Of all the arguments against school free education, few are as aggravating to me as the whole socialization/weird homeschoolers one. And few make as good a case *for* school free education, to me! If schooled people have that hard a time accepting any differences, it begs the question of why people continue to value that brand of elitist "socialization"! I'm quite happy to stick with the far better socialization I've received as an unschooler, thanks.
A big thanks to Kelly for being my copy editor for this piece! It's better because of her. You can read her work at her blogs Kelly.Hogaboom.org and Underbellie.com, and find her on Twitter at @kellyhogaboom and @underbellie.