“If I take my children out of the classroom will it make them socially awkward?” This is a common question for many parents. Cautionary tales abound if you look for them, swaying curious parents back to traditional education. However, Frontier Centre for Public Policy researcher Brianna Heinrichs asserts that these are misleading stereotypes. In her article, “‘Home-schooled,’ not ‘socially awkward’”, Heinrichs looks at misconceptions about learning at home—including lack of socialization, fostering dependency, naivety about drugs and sex, and indoctrination in religious beliefs—and refutes these claims with research from the Fraser Institute and others.
SelfDesign is distinct from homeschooling in that learners are supported by BC-certified educators. However, learning similarly unfolds at home and in the local community, and we consistently experience the same shattering of stereotypes. SelfDesign learners, especially those entering the impressionable tween and teen years, talk of peer relationships that are far less driven by media and social ideals compared to their non-SelfDesign friends and that are far more focused on authenticity and sharing ones passions with one another. Parents notice an increased self-confidence in their children, including more curiosity and creativity as they take charge of their own lives. As founder Brent Cameron noted in his dissertation, by providing learners with a high degree of freedom, choice, and respect, the relationships they cultivate become open and authentic. Most SelfDesign learners come to embrace diverse community and develop a rich and meaningful relationship with their parents. Above all, they learn to follow their own values in choosing their beliefs and behaviours.