Dear Mr. Korman,
We are writing to you about your book, Schooled. Lizzie has just completed 6th grade and has been homeschooled since 2nd grade. Adam recently completed 5th grade and has been homeschooled since 1st grade.
We recently read Schooled, and we disagree with the way you portray homeschoolers.
We have never met any homeschoolers who are 'hippie-dippies,' as Sophie Donnelly says. No homeschoolers we know do tai chi, wear only tie-died clothes, and live on a farm commune. We're sure that a few do, but not all. The way you describe the lives of Cap and Rain makes it seem like all homeschoolers are insane 'freakazoids.'
Also, all the homeschoolers we know (including ourselves) have handled money. We have eaten at Pizza Hut with some of our homeschooled friends, and we've seen them giving wedgies to each other. We've all watched TV too. Some homeschoolers we know have long hair, but they've all had haircuts. When we're sick, Mom and Dad don't take us to the vet. And a microprocessor is a computer part.
You may just be describing one homeschooler's life and one situation, but if a public-schooled kid (or adult) read Schooled, they'd probably think that all homeschoolers were like Cap.
In your book, you say that Cap has never had a friend, and he's never talked to anyone except Rain. Your book makes homeschoolers seem like hermits or recluses. Well, here are just a few of the activities we are involved in: 4-H, a public speaking club, a world history co-op, and a book club. We also go to various camps over the summer and we have sleepovers with other kids. Lizzie plays softball as well. And we have science, history, geography, and art fairs just for homeschoolers. We had a field day just over two weeks ago. We are not just with other homeschoolers all the time.
Lizzie thought that saying that Cap has never had a friend was going too far. She would like to know if you talked to any homeschoolers before you wrote Schooled. More specifically, did you ask them whether or not they have friends? We think that you shouldn't have made the assumption that homeschoolers stay in their homes and with their families all the time.
Lizzie would also like to point out that kids in public school sit in school for most of the day while homeschoolers are out and about - talking to their friends, playing, and meeting people. That is real life.
Adam would like to tell you about a program at our public school called Junior Achievement. In this program, one of the things that kids learn about is the community. The teachers teach about things like banks, stores, etc. The teachers have to simulate real life, instead of just taking the kids to a bank or store. Homeschoolers can just go to a bank, and not even for field trips. The parents would just go the bank to withdraw money, or some other errand, and the kids would learn about banks and money.
We are curious to know where you got your ideas for Schooled and also wondered if you exaggerated some things and for what reason. Please respond soon!
Lizzie Chesak, age 12
Adam Chesak, age 11
August 1, 2009
Hi, Lizzie and Adam,
Thanks for writing. I'm sorry Schooled struck a sour note with you. I hear you, but I really don't think you hear me.
For one thing, Schooled is most emphatically NOT about homeschooling. Homeschooled kids are NOT all raised in isolation by a Grandmother [sic] who was a 1960s hippie and who chose that life for her only grandchild. Yours is not the first letter I've received that tells me how offensive my portrayal of homeschoolers is, and I'm blown away by that. Cap is NOT an example of homeschooling. He's an example of a hippie who has never had friends, had never left the farm, and lives in a different generation and era. He's lost in the real world because he was trained that way. It NEVER says homeschooled kids are that way. It only says CAP is that way! Yes, I understand that you know how to handle money, that you've had haircuts, watched TV, and eaten pizza. But I don't get why you missed the fact that Cap was raised like a hippie on a 1960s commune, never had a haircut, never handled money, and looks at other teens like they were Martians! The book does not assume that homeschoolers never see another living soul, never eat pizza, never dial a telephone. It says that's the way Cap was raised. I made no assumptions about you, and I just can't understand why you think I did.
As I read my mail, I really am beginning to wonder why people involved in homeschooling are so sensitive about their choice of education. I guess you must receive a lot of criticism about it, although I can't imagine why. It's a choice, pure and simple. In the book, Cap is impeccably well educated. It's his life experience that is lacking, and that's because of his Grandmother, not his homeschooling.
See? I get it. I'm just not sure you do. And I'm very sorry my book caused you any anger or distress. I certainly did not mean it that way.