The following "Open Letter" was written at the request of a number of Keeping It Catholic email list members to the author's mother, Syler Womack. The reason for the request? "Miz Syler,"as I fondly call her, or "Syler cher" as her Louisiana Cajun friends do, had previously offered advice to a mother asking fellow KIC members for tips on how to deal with her 14 year old son's continual resistance to home education. As I recall, the teen boy wanted to go to school not for any lofty academic reasons but only to get involved with various activities, make a few friends and perhaps attain a level of "popularity."
"Miz Syler" provided her own tried-and-true insights, based on her many years of Catholic homeschooling experience - including how she dealt with her once-homeschool-resistant eldest, Chisum, now a man of 27 years. Miz Syler concluded that, if her advice didn't help, perhaps she'd ask her son to have a little talk with the other homeschool mother's son (long distance, yet!).
Well, that - as they say - was that. "Miz Syler" then received a number of requests for her eldest son's own insights in the form of an email letter to the Keeping It Catholic email list.
The resulting letter - which I've dubbed "An Open Letter to Homeschool Resisters" and to which I have added the "bolds" and the italics - is obviously a keeper. It is reprinted here, with the kind permission of Chisum Womack, to whom all rights are reserved:
An Open Letter to Homeschool Resisters
My mother has asked me to address certain home schooled young men who are not satisfied with their options. I'm 27 and I was home schooled from
kindergarten until I went to Texas A&M in 1996. I'm Chisum.
All I can say is this: If all you ever want to do in life is fit in, by all means continue to complain and be uncooperative and eventually your mother may give in. Thank God mine didn't. If you go to public school, you may very well fit in and have a lot of friends. You can spend all your time with them, doing things your parents don't want you to do. Of course, there's no guarantee in public school, and you might end up just being the nerd that everyone picks on all day. Good luck.
My mother made me stick with home schooling, and no, I don't fit in. I made a lot of friends in college, and a few of them were worth keeping. But most of the people I have met in the 10 years since I finally got my wish to get out of home school and went to college have been cookie cutter public school and parochial school alumni with no foundation in the faith and no depth or ability to reason. They are conditioned to think that anything they feel like doing is okay with God, because their "god" is a special "god" who they made up to suit themselves. They are addicted to "relationships" and unable to hold their own in any discussion above the level of football. They are consummate consumers, rah-rah republicans and die-hard democrats who never stop to think about what their government is doing or how it got this way. I suppose they are "happy", and if you really want to fit in, go for it. Go to public school. You won't have to worry about learning big words or high ideals that confuse other people and make them uncomfortable.
Speaking for myself, regardless of the fact that I was obstinate as a teenager, I'd rather be a real, thinking Catholic, even if it means that every time I want to have a meaningful conversation I have to call home and talk to my 14 year old baby sister. Because I'm finally mature enough to understand that the reason I don't fit in is because I'm a leader. I'm out here in front, and so are my brothers and my sisters. We're not lonely because there's no one around. We are the ones other people respect. We're only lonely because it's so hard to find anyone who comes up to our standards. But you go ahead and try to fit in if that's what you want to do. If you're actually able to achieve popularity, you can be popular all the way through high school. Then you can get slammed in college when you find out it's a whole new game. Go ahead. Take all that behavior you learned in public high school and try to use it in college. Let me know when you do so I can come watch.
What makes you think you've got what it takes to be popular in high school anyway? Not without compromising everything you know is right. I know those guys who were popular. Do you want to spend all your time playing those games? Learn to be yourself. Learn that you don't need other people's approval to be happy. Learn to put God first. Learn to stand on your own. You can't do that in public school because the whole system is designed to keep you in line. The teachers are happy when people who express themselves and stand up for what's right are persecuted by their classmates because that means the teacher doesn't have to answer any questions and can spend all day dispensing propaganda. You won't be popular unless you're extremely good looking, or athletic, or a player, or a bootlegger. So if you want to spend all your time conforming and looking over your shoulder and watching your step, go to public school.
I told Mom it wouldn't matter what I said to you, because I remember being you. But maybe this post will remind your mothers not to pay any attention to you. Look, we're talking about three or four years. Don't waste them. You have to decide if you are going to learn and be productive, or drag your butts and be miserable. Your choice. I'm out.
---Chisum Womack. Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.