My daughter and I were musing recently upon how differently she might have turned out had she gone to school rather than been taught at home. It is true that she is fairly sociable and reasonably well balanced, but it is interesting to wonder if the very experience of spending her formative years largely in the company of adults has affected her adversely in any way. She suggested that the best way of testing this would be if we could get hold of some pairs of identical twins and try sending one to school and keeping the other at home. I was compelled to point out to her that experiments like this with twins have rather a bad image since Dr Mengeles activities during the war!
One thing which does stand out with her, and I have noticed this with other home educated teenagers, is that she shows little respect and no deference at all to adults simply because they are adults. This can make her appear arrogant or rude sometimes. The only problem here is that I am myself a very rude and arrogant person, so this might just be a bad habit which she has picked up from me, rather than anything particularly to do with being home educated. I think though that there might be a bit more to it than that. One of things she noticed when she started college was that many of the other sixteen year olds called the lecturers 'Sir' or 'Miss' as a matter of routine. This really is a bit strange. When did you last here a woman being addressed as 'Miss'? Come to that, how many people address superiors as 'Sir'?
There is no doubt that schools teach this weird attitude that adults are somehow deserving of respect simply by virtue of being adults and not children. This has the effect of creating a peculiar relationship between the ages which more or less precludes friendship and equality. I don't personally find this a brilliant thing and I'm not sorry that my daughter never acquired this mindset. Apart from anything else, it can be quite dangerous. If children grow up thinking that adults are usually right and their wishes must be heeded, then one is setting the stage for all sorts of dodgy situations! An awful lot of the sexual abuse of children stems from precisely this sort of power imbalance, where children's inbred desire to please and obey adults is exploited for the gratification of a pervert.
In a more general sense, I don't find this whole respect for adults thing very good because it has the effect of stopping children from thinking for themselves. If adults are viewed as being wise and knowledgeable, then there is no need for children to think things out for themselves. The adult already knows best, knows all the answers. This is the sort of thinking which is useful in schools of course. If you are teaching thirty children, you really don't want them all arguing you and challenging what you say. It is enough if they simply learn what you say and believe you to be the fount of all wisdom.
For my own part, I was always pleased when my child refused to take my word for something. It showed that she had a mind of her own. If this has developed over the years into a tendency to be sceptical of what she is told and a determination to find out for herself; well, there are worse things.