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Coming from someone who did not "fit in" to the upper or even middle social hierarchy in high school, I completely commend her for being brave enough to tell you exactly why she doesn't want to go back. I had a high self esteem going into high school...I knew who I was and what I was there to do; I loved school, had excellent grades and many friends (who shared these things with me). We weren't worried about being "cool"; we just were who we were. Until high school. The dynamic of our group changed and all tried to conform to the "norm". I felt like my high school years were lost in who liked me & didn't like me; I let my grades slip, school became "uncool" to me and those great friends all disappeared.

Looking back, college was the same way for me, as were a few of my work experiences since. I wonder if I would have been as strong and confident as I was in junior high all the way through, if I would be more strong and confident now. I wonder if my parents could have done a little more to facilitate that strength and confidence at home.

Something to consider. Your daughter sounds like a very "put-together" girl! I just hope she can emerge on the other side that same way...our world needs more women that way!

You are also helping to reaffirm my desire to home school my kids...Thanks!

Laura S.

Emma is so astute, so self-aware. But I'm not at all surprised -- look at her mother!!

What's interesting is that "adolesence" seems to be occurring earlier in life (as pre-adolescents look and behave more like teenagers) while "adulthood" is occurring later (25 seems to be the age that psychologists now claim is the end of the teenage years), which means adolescence is becoming a LOT longer. This is really a shame because it's such a difficult period.

Mary P

I never did understand the glorification of adolescence that happens in our culture. Personally, I loathed being an adolescent: so much anxiety, so much second-guessing yourself, so much conflict and uncertainty. Ugh.

Why, when you get to be in your twenties (which I greeted with a heartfelt "thank GOD") would you be desperately crying "I'm NOT an adult! Don't call me an ADULT!"

Yet I see adults, parents no less, doing this into their *thirties*. Baffles the heck out of me...

Stephen W.

I count myself among the children who suffered at the social pressures of peers throughout my schooling. And though I'm not a masochist, I've always felt strongly about sending my own children to public school.

I realize this might sound strange. It's not that I want to subject my children to an environment that I found to be largely abusive. However, public schools are a microcosm of the real world. In my opinion, they teach a child more about dealing with real world challenges than they could possibly learn at home. If that involves a change in behavior or personhood, I perceive it as a necessary evil so that the child can adapt to the harsh reality of the world outside.

This is only my opinion. One of my very good friends was homeschooled until 8th grade and may very well have been better off because of it. I don't disagree with the decision to home school; I just believe that you can't learn to swim without getting in the water.


My wife is of the opinion that all-girls schools are probably the best thing to do for adolescent girls. Her belief (and experience) is that when girls are free from the distraction of boys, they drop a lot of the resistance to appearing smart and many of the other cliquey aspects.

Myself, I'm not entirely convinced. I've never been an adolescent girl, of course. I do know that adolescense is difficult for everybody, and there's nothing that can be done to totally remove the pain.

Mary P

Emily - everyone has a different experience of school, but huge numbers of people (most?) find adolescence to be one of the most difficult times of their lives. (Sometimes I wonder if the people who look back with delight on their teen years weren't the ones who made my life miserable in mine. Perhaps I'm unduly cynical...)

There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families. I was more an 'un-schooler' my first time. Child-directed everything. Now we're facing high school and the prospect of preparing her for university, we feel we need to be a little more methodical about it.

But homeschooling kids up to the age of ten or so (the limits of my experience) is easy! Really. And fun.

Stephen - it's interesting that you should voice this perspective, because my husband (also a Stephen) feels the same way!

While I agree that you don't learn to swim without getting in the water, I have never believed that school is the only place for swimming lessons. The whole world is filled with people with whom to interact; lessons are taught everywhere, not just by a teacher, nor even a textbook. In addition, I feel that junior high is particularly intense and often destructive. There may be certain life paths one can choose after school that are equally intense and potentially destructive, but most of us don't. (If your junior high experience wasn't quite as negative as mine, and this comment probably has absolutely no resonance with you!)

So, to perhaps abuse your analogy I'd suggest that 'real life' is to junior high what the pool at the Y is to ocean depths rife with sharks and undertows.

Dreadmouse - I've heard that theory before. It has a fair bit of credibility with me in fact, but we're not about to test it, since there is no way on earth we could manage private school fees. (We looked into it.)

You're quite right: most people don't enjoy their adolescence a whole lot, male or female. Tough time of life.


Oh I remember those days well...and with horror...I think dreadmouse made the suggestion already but you might consider an all girls school if you have that option. We moved when I was 13 and I spent 2 years in a public girls school before I went to co-ed again for my last few years.
While the conforming pressures are there, the oppotunity for academics seems to be better as you are only 'competing' with other girls and don't have to 'suppress' your maths ability etc against the boys.


I strongly feel for Emma and the situation in which she finds herself. My transition from homeschooling to the public education system was not so smooth as you make it appear here, complete with one year of absolute catastrophe in seventh grade. Incidentally, it is interesting to me that the one year I remember as truly terrible was the one and only year which I spent at Emma's school.
I understand completely her struggle with the hegemony of the public classroom, and why she would consider opting out of a system that breeds conformity via omission of the self. My only caution would be that middle school is not high school, and that she may very well find, upon reaching grade 9 in a different setting with the potential of meeting more and different people, that it suits her in a way that grade 8 does not. High school can provide a much larger world and ease the tensions of conformity somewhat – although I would never go so far as to say that these pressures don’t exist.
Might I also suggest that you two look into the alternate high school programs that exist in the city? I know a few people who attended adult high schools, or high school programs that were designed to allow students to complete their diploma at their own paces without the stresses of being confined to groups of adolescents. Perhaps this is something to consider for Emma. Whatever the ultimate decision, I have no doubt that she can, and will, not only succeed but excel.


I'm just impressed that Emma has thought through it as well as she has, and can articulate herself so thoroughly. Good luck coming to a decision...but like others have said, I have a feeling Emma will succeed no matter what.

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