Last week I took the kids to Florida. My cousin had a wedding in Boca Raton, so we went for the wedding and stayed for a week.

We stayed at the Boca Beach Club, in Boca Raton, FL. It’s owned by Waldorf Astoria, and it was just totally over the top in terms of luxury hotels. It had all the usual stuff—like mints on our pillow at bedtime, an extravagant buffet at breakfast, and a mini-bar full of five-dollar Cokes. But it also had a clientele of people who live in gated communities and use the Waldorf as their country club.

The women had super-tight tummies, huge diamond rings, and perfectly coiffed kids, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how they were the prom queens who married the real estate moguls and insurance tycoons and now they are the in-club of adult life.

My six-year-old said to me: “Mom. Your shirt has a hole in it. You should keep that for the farm. You can’t wear it here.”

I started to argue with him. To give him a lesson about how appearances don’t matter.

Back in our room I threw out my shirt.

And when the boys were sleeping on their 600-thread-count sheets, I started reading The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, by Alexandra Robbins.

Robbins is the queen of writing about how people fit in, and how fitting in destroys them. She wrote Pledged (sorority sister disgustingness) and The Overachievers (parents driving kids insane over Ivy League college admission). This most recent book is about the joys of not fitting in.

Robbins shows how high school is a time when people feel the most pressure to fit in. Due to the brain development of teens (they are literally crazy) and how kids are just then learning to separate themselves from their parents, the pressure to downplay one’s unique qualities in favor of fitting in is unlike any sort of pressure that happens in later life. High school amplifies what is naturally a tough time in life into an obstacle course of forced conformity.

This book is full of great quotes like, “Conformity is a cop-out. It threatens self-awareness. It can lead groups to enforce rigid and arbitrary rules. Adolescent groups with high levels of conformity experience more negative behavior than do groups with lower levels of conformity.”

Robbins makes the argument that parents should encourage their kids to be unpopular in high school. Popular kids do not do as well in adult life as the weird, nerdy, eccentric kids who are, invariably, unpopular.

The statistics to support these conclusions are convincing, ranging from psychology studies to lists of people who did well in business and were weirdos in school. Lady Gaga, of course, is the national hero of all nerds, and Robbins spends a lot of time describing Gaga’s transformation from high school loser to Forbes’ Richest Women. But Robbins also talks about hiring practices that focus on finding non-conformist employees. Yahoo, for example wants people who are “curious, energetic, value openess and want to live unbridled and unrestricted. They appreciate that life is huge. They don’t settle for status quo–they want to grow.” Obviously, Yahoo is not looking to hire the kids who were popular in high school.

One of the most striking parts of the book is when Robbins blames parents for wanting their kids to be popular. It’s a messed-up goal leftover from when the parents themselves struggled in high school. Robbins previously wrote a whole book on parents who are selfishly pushing their kids to get into Ivy League schools to prove their parenting was great. And she shows that wanting kids to be popular in high school is driven by the same, narcissist, misguided parenting.

The book is a great argument for homeschooling. Probably the reason that Robbins does not make this logical conclusion is that she is too conformist. She writes books to make people feel good about their own decisions. She has written in the past to show that people who look like they have it all—the sorority girls, the Ivy Leaguers—really have an insipid, uninspired life; we can all be glad we don’t have that. And this book tells all the people who thought they were losers in high school that they were actually the Chosen.

Increasingly I’m realizing that the books that are most persuasive when it comes to homeschooling are the books that don’t even mention the word. If Robbins took the book to its logical conclusion she would tell all parents that learning independently of the high school environment would build the strongest, most socially savvy teenagers. But then she would lose her whole audience, because she’d invalidate everyone’s schooling decisions for their kids.

People are scared of homeschooling. They take all the arguments for taking kids out of school and then draw other, less far-reaching and less obvious conclusions. But fortunately the research is all there. And books like The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth don’t make being an outcast feel any better, but at least it explains why it should be OK.

51 replies
  1. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Your last post about socialization made me think it’s not about you, it’s about everybody else(the other person, group, community, etc.). You’re part of the process and you will reap rewards but that’s not (or at least it shouldn’t be) your focus or objective.
    Parenting is similar in that it’s not about you, it’s about your child. It’s not about your goals and objectives being met by your child so you can rave about the college they went to or the career success they’re having. It’s about you facilitating their journey and them finding out what works best for them. I think this approach works best long term for both the parents and the child.

  2. Citizen Reader
    Citizen Reader says:

    I think the word you want is “coiffed,” not “quaffed.” Interestingly enough I could care less if kids ARE coiffed, but I’m nerdy enough to care about the word.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      except that coiffed refers to hair & i’m thinking you mean something more along the lines of well turned-out in general – clothing & the whole nine yards.

      • Colleen
        Colleen says:

        I think well-coiffed can refer to more than hair when used in this context. But I’m glad this was brought up because I didn’t even catch it, and now I know what “quaffed” means.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        Well-quaffed kids! I hope not. Seriously, does the editor not know the difference between coif (hairstyle) and quaff (drink)?
        Can’t you fix this? Or is this one of those things that you think doesn’t really bother anybody? Some of us nerdy people do actually notice these things.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      after she linked to research and summarized the studies I doubt the title is outlandish.

      in Mexico, certain jails are called “centers of social rehabilitation” but everyone knows that no one comes out rehabilitated. Not just that but they come out worst.

      if she had said how jails really damages people rather than aiding in rehabilitating them socially or learning a lesson, plus cited the research I doubt you’d say the same.

      And I personally believe that jail and schools have a lot of similarities. Which is unfortunate.

      • LJM
        LJM says:

        Look, I share most everyone’s opinion here about school. But “High School Damages Kids” is as true and useless a title as “Cars Kill Kids.” Do cars kill kids? Sure. But not all kids. Does high school damage kids? Sure. But not all kids. It’s obviously sensationalism.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          so far there’s been enough studies to show that homeschooling doesn’t turn out less smart/educated/well adjusted kids than those in school settings.

          but we don’t have any research that compares how kids actually feel and think when in homeschool setting vs regular school setting.

          so we can’t tell. but i don’t think it’s like car kill kids.

          i think it’s more like, just because tons of kids are damaged and it looks normal beacuse it has become common doesn’t mean that the alternative won’t churn out better people.

          on the other blog someone said that free range eggs and industrial eggs have the exact same nutritional value.

          for all i know the studies were focus in calories, protein, vitamins, etc. but not on the fact that stressed chickens produce eggs that are poisoned with stress and that stuff (i’m oversimplifying here).

          the picture above shows kids learning about rocks and stuff. high school classes were so frustrating. i knew i loved learning but i hated the pressure and constant back and forth and tight schedule and then my emotions. gosh! dealing with my emotions and trying to reconcile that treated less than kindly by my peers shouldn’t matter much but it did hurt!

          • LJM
            LJM says:

            No doubt, I think self-guided learning for teens is usually superior in every way to high school. And I know that lots of kids absolutely hate high school. I’m hoping that my 12-year-old son never wants to go to high school.

            But just as it’s a fact that high school does damage some kids, it’s also an objective and inarguable fact that some kids love high school and get a lot out of it. It depends on the kid and it depends on the school.

    • Katharine L
      Katharine L says:

      I actually thought this was one of her least controversial titles. I think it’s pretty spot on and I think most of the people I know would agree with it.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I have an editor for my bigger blog, and he edits this blog as well. (Sidenote: His wife homeschools their kids and when I first heard that, five years ago, I thought they were nuts.)

        Anyway, for those who think the title is too convtroversial, you’ll be interested to know that when I suggested the title “High School Damages Kids” my editor said that the title is too obvious — everyone already knows that high school was the worst time of their life — and that I should write a different title.

        Penelope

        • LJM
          LJM says:

          Penelope, why on earth does your editor think that “everyone” feels the same way about high school?

          “…everyone already knows that high school was the worst time of their life.”

          Well, no. Absolutely, positively, this is an objectively false statement.

          And when we ignore the opinions of people who enjoy and see things differently than we do, we dehumanize them.

          It’s perfectly reasonable to disagree with people about the merits of high school. But pretending that there are no people who benefit from and enjoy high school is either willfully ignorant or simply dishonest. Whichever it is, it doesn’t make for a constructive addition to the discussion.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            The phrase “everyone knows” is always a reflection on one’s frame of reference. Because there is very little in the world that really “everyone knows”. My editor and his wife have been homeschooling for almost 15 years. So my guess is that among parents who have homeschooled that long, this is common knowledge.

            The trick with blogging I think is to find the intersection of what is new to a lot of people but also true for a lot of people. I think this is probably in that intersection. But nothing is new to everyone or true for everyone. Of course.

            Penelope

  3. karelys
    karelys says:

    having been confronted that hard work wasn’t the answer to reach your goals/dreams has left me floating around aimless.

    I don’t fear hard work.

    But I fear sacrifice and uncomfortable times in exchange but nothing. Or anything less than what I sacrificed for.

    I worked my ass off during high school because I came to the States at 16 years old without knowing any English. I attended college during my senior year and worked a part time job.

    i burned out fast but kept going at that pace for a long time.

    Now I feel like I’m still not as far ahead as I wanted to be. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    Facebook lets me know that this girl my age went to a private university and she has now a big name job that has nothing to do with her degree. That’s about the only similarities we have (minus the big job).

    She’s the daughter of a renown pastor in town who was also the major for a time here. She’s beautiful and has no problem prioritizing time to workout and look as great as she does.

    I bet she never had to worry night and day whether her parents would make the power bill or that she’s never felt extremely greatful that someone showed up at their door with a thanksgiving meal package as a gift from the community making her dad feel really small but grateful at the same time.

    Needless to say I’m trying to unlearn everything that I did during my years of schooling.

    As much as I want the geeks to inherit the earth I think that the popular kids got their right to inherit a piece as well.

    I just gotta figure out the path between A (where I’m at right now) and B (where I want to be. Because obviously it’s not JUST hard work. It’s not JUST sacrifice.

    It’s all that plus: be hot, know the right people, learn to speak and alude to their side that will give you what you want, etc.

    Or be naturally ridiculously smart and “unique” and get hired by companies with awesome perks.

    I’m not the latter nor the first one.

    I was just born poor, got ambition and some skills that I don’t even know what any value.

    But that doesn’t mean I’m letting it go.

    Last winter I was chopping wood for the first time. It was so much work!

    At first I couldn’t even break into the big lump of wood. No matter how hard I pounded and how hard I strained myself.

    Then I looked for little cracks and moved the massive piece of wood around until I strategically placed it right so that it would break when I nailed the wedge on it.

    I am so lost but a know a few things for sure. I am just moving around looking for cracks.

  4. Lori
    Lori says:

    loved that book, and i agree with you re: so many of these books pointing an invisible finger toward homeschooling. of course, i read hs’ing into virtually every book that i read. have you read “making ideas happen” yet?

  5. Jo
    Jo says:

    Hmm I don’t think kids are either independent creative loser-weirdos or conformist herdlike populars… I’ve known loads of people who were socially inept, mostly friendless, bad students in high school that drifted into dead-end jobs and a depressing adulthood. Also many who were confident charming types that marched to the beat of their own drum in high school (with lots of people following) and continued to do so as adults.

    Maybe the real contrast you are making is between the charming outsider and the charming insider, but this glosses over those outsiders who are not charming or smart and detracts from their real suffering (as teenagers and adults). Very cinematic and rose-colored to me.

  6. Heather Head
    Heather Head says:

    The insight that books (and articles, studies, etc.) that don’t even mention homeschooling are often the most convincing arguments in favor of homeschooling… YES. And the evidence just keeps stacking up.

    I’m new to your blog, but planning to look around more–it looks like we have a lot in common. I’m a full-time career entrepreneur, and a writer, and also a homeschool mom… I’ve had people ask me why I send my kids to be with another family on work days, instead of just sending them to school… and this is why. Because I BELIEVE in homeschooling. I don’t think it has to be *our* home ALL THE TIME, but I believe traditional school damages children.

    So, we’ve carved out this weird little life of our own that baffles everyone around us, sort of the way I used to baffle everyone around me in school. And we love it… most of the time.

  7. emily
    emily says:

    Did anyone else have non-conformist parents – until they had kids, that is? It’s totally brave to keep things fluid, even after the kids are born. I feel like I got and still get (from every day life) such mixed messages: be your own person as long as it fits in a category i’m already familiar with.

  8. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    The popularity contests still happen in homeschooling groups. I sometimes push my son to fit in better with the other boys because when he is cast aside I feel that same pain I felt in high school. I want him to fit in, badly. It’s something to think about…

  9. Yvette
    Yvette says:

    Question – is the problem with public school, or with private schools, too?
    For example, Montessori schools are based on a method that may be attractive to homeschooling believers; why not registering your children in a Montessori school?
    And no, I don’t work for one :) I’m just intrigued about this homeschooling world and want to see what are the needs that are fulfilling for real.
    Thanks ladies

    • B
      B says:

      This is a bit off topic, even though I happen to agree overall that high school is an emotional and psychological battlefront for kids. But since I rarely see a reference to Montessori here I wanted to address it, but in a wider context than just high school.

      Our 7 year old daughter goes to a Montessori school. The school operates in self-directed and project-based learning frameworks. It fosters the development of analytical skills and problem solving. The school also has a “no exclusion” policy, in that, if somebody wants to join in a work group or a play group, you cannot exclude them. “You can’t play with us” is simply not allowed. Also, it’s expected that older kids help out younger kids. They go to great lengths to ensure the student population isn’t segregated by age/grade (even though they do not have traditional grade levels) and that the kids regularly interact with each other in a variety of contexts. The school doesn’t adhere to traditional evaluation methods. No As, Bs, Cs, etc. I like all of that.

      We chose the place because when we visited and observed classes, it truly seemed like utopia. It was radically different than the traditional educational environment that both me and my husband had experienced as kids. The campus was like a summer camp rather than a school. The children seemed happy and engaged. It was stunning to witness. The Montessori educational method, the terrific community of students and parents, and the exposure to all of the incredible resources the school has to offer has proven to be an exceptional experience for all of us, but especially so for our daughter. She is thriving. We’re observing nothing but positive effects on her intellectually and emotionally. When she was younger, we believed her to be somewhat shy and quiet passive socially, but over the past couple of years we have watched her come into her own in terms of her “group” personality. I’m certain that her social identity has been favorably influenced by the fact she’s a part of this particular Montessori community.

      Many of the activities we engage in with our daughter in our home life reflect what she does in school and vice versa. Most of the things we do together could arguably be construed as home schooling or unchooling. At least, that’s how I see it. Even though we chose to enroll our daughter in a Montessori school, I don’t really expect anybody other than us to be responsible for educating our daughter. We consider ourselves homeschoolers too. It’s just intertwined with how we parent. I imagine a lot of Montessori parents feel this way.

      I think when she is older, we’ll consider homeschooling full time. The school only goes to age 14/15 so eventually we’ll have to make a decision on what to do next. I imagine that we’ll homeschool during her highschool years, due to many of the reasons PT talks about here, but then again, maybe not. We’ll temper our decision with our daughter’s personal educational objectives, as well as her approach to and attitude toward her own education. But at the moment, we’re delighted with where we’re at.

      Consequently, we’re aware of how lucky we are such a place exists in our community and also that we are able to afford the annual tuition, which isn’t exactly cheap.

      I’m always interested in Montessori coming up in the context of the school vs homeschool conversations here, but it’s rarely mentioned. It’s a regular topic of discussion amongst the folks in our social circles. At any rate, I figured I’d throw it into the mix.

      • Yvette
        Yvette says:

        Thanks B – this statement

        “I don’t really expect anybody other than us to be responsible for educating our daughter”

        explains a lot to me. I thought all parents feel that way, no matter if the kids are in public school/private school/homeschool.
        At least that’s the way it is in my native, non-Anglo country.
        Maybe the expectations of the public school system are too high, so no wonder there is dissapointment among some parents.
        Thanks again for enlighten me.

  10. Kate
    Kate says:

    I’ve been working at high-tech startups for the last 25 years. Yeah, some of the brilliant tech guys were probably nerds in high school. But the founders/CEOs and the top sales people always have “mad” people skills and probably had those skills in high schooltoo. So I don’t think you can say that only the unpopular find success as adults.

  11. Irina I
    Irina I says:

    But even if outcasts are more successful in life, being an outcast is extremely lonely. And, in fact, I think kids who are popular in high school have learned skills to adapt the situation to benefit them and then turn out to be more successful in life.

  12. R. Murdoch
    R. Murdoch says:

    Ah, Penelope, Penelope. You had me locked in on your adventure all the way up til you gravitated to Alexandra and her dizzying recount of the “geek-ville” tragedies found in most high schools.

    I was so hoping you would have gone back to your own personal vacation story and finish it. You were on a roll, young lady.

    Maybe you will end up like Diane Keaton in “Baby Boom”. You should find a way to take all of your creativity and build a “Goat Cheese” business from Wisconsin and change the world. You certainly have the skills. As long as you stay away from crazy writers like Alex.

  13. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Great post–really thought-provoking. I agree high school damages kids but I think maybe that whole period of adolescence is just damaging–everything that happens during that time can so easily be experienced as trauma. When I look around at all the parents out there, I have doubts that most of them could give their kids a less traumatic experience at home than in high school. If I were homeschooled by my parents I would have had no space at all to think and feel and experience the Other-ness (by being unpopular) that forced me to question who I was, what was important, and begin to search for answers about why I was unhappy and what the heck I’m doing on this planet. My sole purpose would have been to fulfill the awful Chinese-American dream of Ivy league school followed by one of the only three acceptable jobs (doctor, lawyer, engineer) and instant marriage to another Chinese-American with one of the acceptable jobs.

    I dream about an un-schooling experience for my kids in some sort of community where other adults’ and older children’s experience could help me teach my kids where I’m too blind to see my own lack. I don’t want to send them to high school nor do I want to homeschool them myself.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      i come from a culture where just recently there was something called “adolescence.”

      it was completely normal to be 15 and be married. and it wasn’t miserable. it was great.

      which makes sense. you’re raise with a strong sense of family and you know how to work and you know it’s normal to take care of other people. not to mention, hormones are raging and the cute boy you met a couple years ago and fell in love with are now living together.

      in fact, i just had a client this morning telling me her story like that.

      maybe adolescence is “damaging” because of how we treat kids.

      my dad’s life was so hard. but not because of teenage angst but because he didn’t know if he’d have anything to eat the next day and he had many siblings to help take care of.

      it’s gotten harder to be a teenager because of how people are treated and then you dump them all together in a school with a system that is more like jail.

      gah!

  14. Jeannette
    Jeannette says:

    I still don’t understand the title.
    How is it obvious that high school damages kids?
    Why and how does damages kids? How could be prevent it? Is homeschooling the only solution?

    I myself have good memories of those years. And my two nieces who are in high school now seem well-adjusted. Some of their friends are going through a rebel stage, but that’s called adolescence; nothing to do with high school…so weird.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Since you bring up girls, I feel compelled to recommend the book “Reviving Ophelia” as a compendium of evidence that girls dumb themselves down to attract boys. High school exacerbates this. To say that some girls are immune to this when it’s going on all around them is delusional, I think. All girls are affected. It’s why there are still top-tier all-women colleges like Wellesley and Smith.

      Penelope

      • Jeannette
        Jeannette says:

        FWIW,
        By seeing their grades, they are not trying to ‘dumb’ themselves down, and it doesn’t seem to affect their social lives.
        The facts is, both of the girls have many friends (boys and girls) and their house is Party Central.
        Maybe the difference is that among other activities, they are into sports: One is a swimmer, preparing to compete for the national, and the other one plays basketball.
        They are very competitive to play dumb blondes.
        I wouldn’t say that they are immune to the phenomenon that you describe. I just don’t see it. They just behave like normal girls.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          The issue isn’t what grades the girls are getting (obviously girls going to Wellesley are getting great grades). The issue is girls pretending to be less intelligent when they are around boys. I’m pretty sure that you have no idea what those girls are doing when they are in a group of boys.

          Penelope

  15. Thomas Carney
    Thomas Carney says:

    I was homeschooled until the age of 13. Then I told my dad I wanted to go to a “normal” school (I always wanted to do new things). I spent the next 5 years trying to figure out how to “fit in” within the school. For example, I never told my friends about all the cool stuff I was doing: a web design business with my brother, short film-making, hatching geese and so.

    I felt I underachieved intellectually, although I was one of the best in the school.

    This pattern of trying to figure out how to fit in continued into university, and only now am I overcoming it (24).

    So I would agree. School was a major brake on my progress.

    • Jeannette
      Jeannette says:

      @ Thomas Carney –
      Why did you hide those activities from your friends? They don’t look anything out of the ordinary for a kid (well, maybe the raising geese, if you live in the city is kind of peculiar).

  16. le@third
    le@third says:

    hello there – fyi when I went uni – 1984-88 the drop out ‘failure’ rate was highest from private school success story popular kids … too pampered maybe …I thought it was that once they were big fish in a small pond (school) then in uni suddenly small fish in a BIG pond …

    BTW last day at work tomorrow – quit – back to nz for a month so will be homeschooling the kids for all of feb – looking forward to it – we’ll be by the cold beach, no distractions, a week without MIC too – just me and the babes – all good – bought a kayak aka our skateboard maybe … hope home has picked up le xox

  17. victoria
    victoria says:

    An essay you’ll probably find interesting, if you haven’t read it already: Paul Graham’s Why Nerds are Unpopular. I enjoyed the Robbins book too but I think that Graham here has a much better answer for why high school is such a uniquely challenging time — and I think that’s a better question to be asking.

    • Sofia
      Sofia says:

      That was a great essay. I feel that people of all ages need to have work, productive activity, to be happy. High school is boring and a big prison, and kids are so bored they invent hierarchies to amuse themselves. Adults do the same thing at lame jobs or enclosed communities (like my church). Ugh.

  18. Suzanne Kaplan
    Suzanne Kaplan says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Not sure if you will get to read this… I wanted to tell you that as a HS English teacher I believe that our public school systems ruin kids. I went into to try to change the system, but now I realize that’s impossible. I’m glad you’re writing about this issue.

    Sincerely,

    Suzanne

    • P Flooers
      P Flooers says:

      There is a reason so many institutional school teachers become homeschoolers.

      When institutional schoolers say high school sucks, folks tend to nod in agreement. When homeschoolers say high school sucks, folks tend to accuse homeschoolers of snootiness or limited vision. Its a common intellectual double standard.

  19. sophie
    sophie says:

    Much of the ruination of our high school kids comes from their peers, people who, as Penelope says, are crazy. But the other half comes from adults, people who should know better. This is especially true in small town or parochial schools, where smaller enrollments mean less diversity – and by diversity, I mean differences in skills, interests, styles, etc.

    My kids attended a parochial school. It claims its teachers model the actions of Christ. Yet I personally witnessed some teachers label students because they dressed differently or ridicule them because they chose interests outside the customary high school or gender realm. Adults set the bar for what’s acceptable. If a teacher is allowed such behavior, of course the students will follow.

  20. Wayne Freeman
    Wayne Freeman says:

    This is just my observation, but the kids who leave high school the best situated for the rest of their lives seem to be the ones elected “best school spirit”, followed by the rest of the cheerleading squad.

    Everybody likes the cheerleaders, especially employers, and voters. They can go their entire lives without running out of things to cheer for.

    The geeks come next, because they recognize the B.S. and are good at working around and in spite of it and can still get stuff done. The cheerleaders need them because they need something to cheer about after the once-promising star athletes have all burnt out and broken down by the time they’ve finished college. The geeks will never lack for work to do, making the cheerleaders’ cheers come true.

    The ones that high school ruins are the ones who really loved their high school years: The “most popular”, “best-looking”, “best-dancer” and the below-98th-percentile-or-prematurely-injured star athletes who live forever in the might-have-been.

    • Daven
      Daven says:

      “Brenda and Eddie had had it already by the summer of ’75.
      From the high to the low, to the rest of the show, for the rest of their lives.”
      — Billy Joel, about the king and the queen at the prom

  21. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Took out “Geeks…Inherit the Earth” from the library.

    After reading the about the first set of “cafeteria fringe,” it made me so uncomfortable for those kids that I skimmed the remaining pages just for the conclusions drawn and author’s summaries.

    Having attended tiny, rural schools, I did not know how bad it could get. There were some instances of bullying and discomfort, but not like the book’s examples. It is horrifying–the group-think and cruelty, what we/they are capable of doing to others because of the safety of the crowd.

    How can it not be considered abuse or neglect to put young people into an institution that could breed such behavior?

    It was a worthwhile read to bolster my commitment that my kids stay home, even when the alternative seems like a lot less work.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I really liked the post that you wrote. Thanks. My favorite part is how you say all kids are homeschooled, because that’s where they learn the most important stuff – at home. And I love how you write that some kids are sent to not-homeschool but they are still homeschooled. That’s so true. Thanks for the link.

      Penelope

  22. Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven)
    Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven) says:

    Interesting thoughts. I was just discussing some of this yesterday in talking with our 14yo son about why we homeschool. Another book that I think supports homeschooling without intending to is “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld.

    Mary, mom to 10

  23. Matthew Stewart
    Matthew Stewart says:

    Since I graduated high school less than three months ago, I’d like to provide an alternative perspective. Before I begin, I’d like to say that I just recently stumbled upon your blog and have found your writing inspiring.

    There were two main “popular” groups within my graduating class of 431 students. The first group consisted of the apathetic, do stupid stuff, party-hard students. This group of friends made moor decisions, usually together, and many are headed to the local community college with subpar GPAs. They often showed up to sporting events drunk, and were anti-school spirit during most of high school.

    And then there was the second group, which I belonged to. We carried influence with administration, teachers and our fellow peers. This group was composed of students who had a million extracurriculars, at least two AP classes and always attended school functions and sporting events. While we didn’t include everyone in our group, we never bullied or ridiculed others. Yes, there was drama, but that was probably the only bad part.

    I would not trade my high school experience for anything. My life consisted of a fine balance between creating lasting memories and achieving academic success and school/community involvement. Most importantly, I have developed social skills that will be critical in my future. Within my group of friends, I was allowed to be nerdy. I was allowed to think big and share my life’s dreams.

    Now, I’m headed off to a top 15 University with the skills to be successful in the future. The point of my post is to show that sometimes the “popular” kids aren’t the standard definition. If students find their way into the second group, it leads to a wonderful high school experience.

  24. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    I’ve always been told that the suffering of adolescence and high school is something you just have to get through so it’s great to read about people out there challenging that assumption. The argument against homeschooling mostly focuses on socialization which to me, which gives kids the impression that they must all try to fit in at all costs. For example, I seriously doubt Bill Gates would’ve worked as hard as he did to start Microsoft if he was concerned about being accepted by the popular kids.

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