From about third to sixth grade I hated school with a passion, but not as most kids do. I’m pretty sure most kids detest school at some point, due to anything from a teacher to a subject to having to get up early.
I hated school because I was convinced it was a terrible place. I don’t think I thought this because of bullying, but because of education. I thought school wouldn’t teach you anything. (Note: I use “school” here to mean a brick-and-mortar school, not education. I didn’t have anything an education; I just didn’t think you could get one in school.)
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately because it was very important to me at the time. It took me several years to get over this feeling and figure out why I even thought this in the first place.
The first reason is that my parents decided to homeschool my brother and I because we were bored. We would finish our assignments before anyone else, then sit and stare out the window because we had nothing else to do. I was frustrated by how easy everything was – my main memory from second grade is of my teacher telling me to read a book again because I couldn’t possibly have read it in less than five minutes. I quietly did what she asked but inside I was thinking, “It’s a picture book. It has less than thirty pages and not much of a plot. Of course I can read it in five minutes, you dork.”
This led to me thinking I was better than all the kids who went to school, because I was smarter. Never mind that plenty of other smart kids continued to attend school. In my weird little mind school had no redeeming features at all. Now I think what’s more important is that you do what works for you. Some kids have to homeschool because they’re bored. Some kids have to attend school because both of their parents need to work to make ends meet, so they don’t have time to teach. It doesn’t matter how you get an education.
But oddly, that’s not the most important reason I hated school. There’s another. After a while I realized that I didn’t hate school so much; it was the schoolchildren who bothered me. I quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t all the kids, just some. They were the ones who’d thought I was a freak when I still attended school. I’ve always been an oddball, the nerd who would blurt out that I’d rather read than watch TV, the girl who refused to swathe herself in pink. When I started to homeschool, I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for those girls. (It was pretty much just girls because I’ve only ever had one good guy friend and I haven’t talked to him for eight years. I miss you, Trevor!) They didn’t like me so I disliked them right back.
Over time, I realized that it was OK to be “normal”. (Is there even such a thing, anyway?) I was made fun of for being a nerd so I thought non-nerds were stupid until I realized they were just different. And really, everyone is a nerd. Some forms of nerdiness are just more socially acceptable than others. Sure, Tolkien fans know all these obscure facts, but so do football fans. So I began to not care if people made comments about me.
I also learned that jerkiness isn’t limited to school buildings – I just needed to hang out with different people. One of my earliest homeschooling friends told me that because I wasn’t Christian, the devil was going to do horrible things to me. Until now I haven’t told anyone how much that freaked me out, not because I believed her but because I thought she was a nice, nonjudgmental person. At the same time, I became friends with a publicly-schooled girl who is now one of my closest friends. At first I hadn’t liked her because I thought that she thought that I was weird. Well, I’d say she’s my weirdest friend now.
It all seems so laughable now, doesn’t it? But at the time it was how I honestly felt. I’m glad I changed my mind because now I have amazing friends who attend all types of schools!