A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: NZ stuff
Previous entry: Israeli gym teacher dies on the job
Friday December 14 2007

Bishop Hill writes about home education, in connection with a Tim Worstall posting who in his turn is commenting on this:

Another criticism given by Tim W’s commenters is that home-educated children are “weirdos”. Here, I’m less sure of my ground, because I can’t say I’ve ever met a home educated child. I’ve seen some on the telly, and they do appear different to schooled children. The thing which has always struck me is that they seem rather polite, and very clear-eyed; they look people in the eye and say what they think. They lack the wariness around adults and the emotional ticks and affectations of your average teenager.

Surely BH has met quite a few home-schooled children.  He just didn’t realise it.  Tangent: Are complaints about weird home-schooled kids perhaps similar to those moans about ghastly men’s hair-pieces?  You only spot the ones that you spot.  All the perfect fits that you do actually encounter don’t register.

But I digress.  Let BH continue:

Whether this is enough to suggest a categorisation under “Weirdo” is a matter of personal taste.

When people think of home-educated children who have been filed under weird, they often bring up the mathematics prodigy, Ruth Lawrence, who went up to Oxford at the age of eleven, graduated at thirteen, became a fellow at Harvard at nineteen and is now a full professor. Whether she deserves to be called weird is not clear from what I’ve read. She is certainly gifted, but she seems to have a perfectly normal life (marriage, children and so on). I can remember a minor kerfuffle when she publicly stated some of her views at a debate and rather upset some of her fellow students who couldn’t handle someone so young saying what they thought. This seems to me to be more of a criticism of the other students than of Ms Lawrence.

The logical place to stop this posting might be, after a few words of wisdom from me, here, or maybe two paragraphs sooner.  But I particularly don’t want anyone to miss this next bit, which they might if they only took my words for it about the original posting.

But historically, going to university in your mid-teens was the norm, rather than the exception.  In the medieval period, someone aged fourteen was expected to be able to manage their own affairs and to be able to study independently of family. So to that extent, it’s modern schooled children who delay tertiary education until the age of eighteen that are the oddballs, the exceptions, the weirdos.

Perhaps this is why teenagers can be so vile. Underneath it all, they know they should have flown the coop, but the law says they can’t.  On top of all the hormones, you get a prison sentence.

It’s not really surprising that they can be a bit unpleasant is it?

Many believe that adolescence of the sort so memorably portrayed in the form of Harry Enfield’s Kevin the Teenager is a product of pure biology.  But I believe that BH’s explanation is far closer to the answer.  Biology is involved, but only in collision with other things that might have been done quite differently, with very different results.

BH’s posting went up on Wednesday, and Worstall’s on Tuesday.  Sorry it took me so long to register it here.