I've noticed people get kind of upset when you insult your parents. I think that's why homeschooling raises so many hackles whenever I mention it. When I was reading Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, which argues that people worry too much about how much their parenting will affect how their children turn out. He quotes all these studies that seem to show that parenting doesn't matter. Unfortunately, almost all of them are studies done on contemporary Western people.
Who really raises children in contemporary Western societies? Where do children spend most of their waking hours? Time surveys show that many children spend as much time in school as with their parents and some children spend more. School is like a third (or second) parent.
I went to school first in pre-K, at a small Waldorfish school, when I was 5. That's a little late to start pre-K, but I was quite small and sickly for my age and it became evident I had some learning difficulties by the time I was in Kindergarten. We couldn't afford to keep sending me to private school and neither the private school nor the local public school provided very good special-ed programs for children who are intelligent, but think a little "differently" to put it nicely.
So I was homeschooled. Often portrayed as a smothering and isolating thing, I never experienced it this way. I did several sports (even though I didn't want to, but my parents said it was good for me), played outside every day for hours, was never bullied for being a nerd, read lots of books for fun, did lots of church activities, hung out with my grandma, played elaborate games with my sister, and generally wasn't very isolated. I didn't need special ed classes, my mother worked with me one on one and eventually I surpassed "normal" kids in standardized test scores. My mother wasn't much for laboratory chemicals, but luckily there were enough homeschooled kids in the area that I took lab science classes taught by a former schoolteacher once a week for several hours.
I first went to school when I was 15, to a "mixed income" public school in Georgia. It's weird because I have very little memory of that year, well, of learning anything. I was in normal classes at first, where I was bored, then I was shifted into the "gifted" program, which was much more engaging. I do remember my "tech ed" class which we spent goofing off on MS Paint and where our teacher would tell us stories about the slaughterhouse where he used to work. I vowed to become a vegetarian.
We went through metal detectors every day and we weren't allowed to carry backpacks when we were in the building because they said we might hide weapons in them, but people found ways to be violent anyway. I remember some boys pushed another boy into a window outside the auditorium and there was glass and blood everywhere. I found the environment demoralizing and oppressive. I got sick often.
Boy was it a culture shock when my family moved to Illinois and I went to a "public" school that's the kind that makes people believe in public schools. Ivy covered walls, rowing and sailing teams instead of gang fights, relative freedom, teachers with PhDs, classical literature…I got an excellent education there in literature, art, and history. I have no idea what happened in science, but I took honors chem my sophomore year and was unlucky enough to get the hardest teacher in the entire school. I received a C- and was told by the department head not to bother taking physics. Luckily, some incredibly kind science teachers later encouraged me and I found ways to get around my weaknesses and later earned As in all my chemistry courses in college. College was, in general, much easier for me than high school had been. I went to a large state school, so it was the kind of place where self-initiative, not obedience, was what was important. I was used to teaching myself things, so I did well. I graduated top of my class, compared to the 50% percentile I was in when I graduated high school.
Whether or not homeschooling makes kids antisocial or weird is a matter of intense argument, but my personality is strikingly similar to my sibling and relatives who have different schooling. If anything, I think regular school often makes weird kids still weird, but miserable for being weird. Throughout most of human history, kids spent time with other kids and other people of all ages. You put a group of thirty children of the same age with a solo female (usually) teacher and no wonder it's Lord of the Flies out there.
Some of those weird kids ultimately come to hate their third parent. I know because I've dated and been friends with many people who went to school and would want to homeschool their children.
But for other people, homeschooling is an insult and they treat it was immense hostility. I agree it's unsettling. It doesn't work for everyone, it's not always consistent (as if regular school is), people might be taught the "wrong" things, and doesn't ultimately provide a large-scale solution to the education problems that are plaguing the United States at this moment. It's quite similar to the bizarre objection to the Paleo diet, that it can't work for everyone in the world to eat "paleo," so there must be something wrong with it.
I think the only thing that homeschooling left me at a disadvantage with is that I failed to learn to obey. Not that I think it's really a bad thing, it just makes me unsuitable for certain jobs, religions, and other institutions. But I suppose there is still room left in the world for disobedient people since I do OK, even if I occasionally have to pause to bristle at the nonsense we have to endure.
I'll never forget the time in high school when I took Great Books, which had some student-led discussions as part of the curriculum. One I led was "Is homeschooling a good idea?" Almost everyone attacked it savagely. Then I revealed that I had been homeschooled. People were shocked. It's as if I had told them that bread wasn't good for them…