Socialization Ill: Pressure to Not Excel

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This was inspired by Jessica's post The Freedom to Learn - A Homeschool Benefit. Please check it out.

Running Ahead

Switching to public high school after being homeschooled put a metaphorical chip on my shoulder. I had something to prove. Namely, I was there to show my education superior (ah, the arrogance of youth, er, man). I enjoyed raising my hand, answering questions, proving my intelligence, pushing ahead of everyone else wherever possible (sadly, this wasn't all that often*).

But by the time I got to college, something had changed. Four years in the school system had taught me something. I no longer pushed ahead of my classmates. I no longer put myself forward as a Mr-Know-It-All. I thought it was humility at the time. But the lesson I had learned was that one must not excel too much.


No rewards for finishing first
Like a salesperson without commissions, doing my job way better than my peers offered no real rewards. The yellow tassel around my neck during graduation had proven to be an underwhelming symbol of recognition. Unlike my homeschool environment, where mastering the content was the goal, "class rank" was a pale and shallow replacement.

The negative repercussions
Even the most bullheaded of us pick up on social cues. It may take us a tad longer, but we hear the sighs and complaints from our classmates that we always raise our hands and "show off." Done enough, by enough people, and we recognize that this is not welcome. The social pressure of the classroom is to fit in. And being "better than everyone else" is not that. See that? School socialization is actively against excelling!

That's the story in Jessica's post as well.

And that's unfortunate.

Not encombured by this socialization ill, we homeschoolers can focus on learning, excelling, and pushing ourselves to learn more. ...assuming, of course, that we learn that it's okay that our little sister is better at us in Art (and reading), and our little brother is better at Chess (and public speaking).

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

* Well, drafting. I was way ahead of the rest of my class when I took drafting in high school. The other classes, I was at the top of group, but not bounding ahead.

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  1. a way, from the other side of things, it's comforting to read this. We've been homeschooling now for 10+ years, but are increasingly considering public school for the two oldest in the fall.

    And man...let me tell you that we've stressed over it, we've worried over it. we've prayed about it, and we've talked to them about it. To know that you and others have transitioned fine, albeit it with not a lot of resistance academically, helps the tiniest bit.

    • Scott, thanks so much for reading! And let me tell you, I am not anti-public schools. I have written extensively about this subject here; I had a great experience in public school (overall). I think public schools are a fine option, and absolutely what you should do if you're being led in that direction.

      But, seeing as this is a homeschool blog, I'm also going to share my observations and impressions as a homeschooler.

      In the end, again, as I've shared before, the real indicator of student future success is you. Your involvement based on your years of homeschooling is going to do wonders for your students in a traditional setting. The learning culture you've cultivated in your home will absolutely set them up do just fine in a different learning style.

      Hope that helps! And may God give you peace as you seek Him in this decision.