Makes You Wish You’d Stayed Home(Schooled)

, , , , | Learning | June 12, 2019

I was 11 and had just started school for the first time, as I’d been home-educated since I was four. I hadn’t had a structured education system, so school rules and unwritten codes were very new to me. It didn’t help that, although I wasn’t diagnosed at the time, I am autistic and struggle to pick up social cues.

On my second day of school, we had a class called Personal and Social Education, which was basically life skills and sex ed, and we had guest speakers from the police, fire department, etc., to teach us how to handle life.

This particular day, the first class of the year, the teacher was explaining to everyone that if they didn’t attend school, their parents were breaking the law. Naturally, this confused me; my mother had been the media coordinator for an alternative education group we belonged to for years, so I was quite well-informed on the legality of home education. I didn’t grasp that the teacher was trying to tell us about the consequences of skipping out on classes, because I didn’t know that was something people did. I just knew that not attending school was perfectly legitimate, and the teacher clearly hadn’t heard about home education, so I should be helpful and explain.

Naive little me put my hand up and said my mother had educated me at home. Before I could get any further in my explanation, this teacher gave me the most disgusted look and announced loudly, “Well, your mother should have gone to prison!

I was thoroughly humiliated. I put my hand down and stared at the desk, and spent the rest of the class trying not to cry, because the teacher was Authority and she’d just told me I was wrong and that my mum had broken the law. I was devastated and, being as naive as I was, I was convinced I’d just got my mum into serious legal trouble.

When my mum picked me up after school, she could tell I was upset. It didn’t take much prodding before I broke down sobbing. I told her what had happened and that I didn’t want her to go to prison.

She came into school the next morning to speak to the principal, and while I never knew exactly what was said in that meeting, I never saw that teacher around the school again.

But I learned a very important rule that day; I was never to say something that implied a teacher might be wrong, or challenge something I knew was wrong, because that was Not What We Do At School. It pretty much destroyed my confidence and signposted to everyone in my class that I was an easy target.

Just hear a kid out when they’re trying to make a point, teachers.

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