Socially Inept

| Galesburg, IL, USA | Learning | November 10, 2015

(I am going back to public school in my sophomore year after having been homeschooled in grades seven-nine. My English class is doing a project in pairs, and I am having trouble finding a partner because everyone else paired up so fast. My mom emails the teacher to ask if I can just do it by myself, which I am perfectly capable of doing. The teacher emails back to set up a conference. My mom agrees.)

Mom: “So, what do you think? Can [My Name] just do the project alone?”

Teacher: “Well, I think it’s important that [My Name] finds a partner for her project. You see, having been homeschooled, she’s not good with social dynamics and interaction. We’ve seen some dominant tendencies when she works in groups, not letting others contribute, and she needs to take this opportunity to remedy her lack of social skills. To be blunt, they really are atrocious.”

Mom: “Excuse me? Are you calling my daughter socially underdeveloped? First of all, she has SEVEN siblings. She is literally constantly surrounded by people. Furthermore, we go to church twice a week, where she has acquired a nice group of friends, most of whom go to public school. She also does ballet. She knows how to interact with people of all age groups. And as for the supposed dominance problem, she tells me the other students are unwilling to work, so she just does entire group activities on her own. This being the case, I actually don’t even see how it would make a difference whether she has a partner for this project.”

Teacher: “I understand that you only want to see the best in your child. It’s hard to see flaws in those we love, but I will not consent to this. [My Name] will find a partner for this project or she will automatically fail. She needs social development. Homeschooling has not done her a favor.”

Mom: “The fact that she used to be homeschooled is irrelevant. You can’t recognize her perfectly good social skills because you’ve already decided they must be deficient. This project isn’t about her social skills. It’s about the fact that the good students all know each other and are already paired up, and she’s probably going to end up with a kid that only drags her down.”

Teacher: “I won’t allow her to do it by herself. She will find a partner, and she will be scored on her part of the work as well as how much she allowed her partner to contribute.”

Mom: “So not only will you not help her find a partner or let her do it alone, you’ll also count her off if the other person is lazy and doesn’t do their part? This is ridiculous. I’m going take this to the principal.”

Teacher: “I hope you’ll come to recognize [My Name]’s social deficiencies for what they are. She desperately needs help.”

Mom: “Even if she did have problems, this would be an awful way to remedy them. This conversation is not worth my time. Goodbye.”

(I ended up finding a partner after all. She wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but she was nice and willing to do her share of the work. We got an A on it. I survived the class, and will fortunately never have that teacher again.)

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