As hundreds of thousands of adolescent students are settling into the first few weeks of the 2013-2014 school year, others kids run rampant in the streets. They eat lunch when they want to eat lunch, study when they want to study and most importantly — at least for this article — surf when they want to surf. They are homeschooled. To a kid, this might mean a rigorous routine of math, science and English or it might mean they never even get a GED. Should exceptional surf talent bother with the tired old school system? Why wait on Superman? Or does homsechooling rob the youth of an essential stepping stone towards becoming a functioning member of society. Chas Smith and Brendan Buckley iron it out.
Chas Smith: You know what I hate these days?
Brendan Buckley: Jordy Smith’s haircut?
CS: And young rising surf stars who choose to go to school.
BB: I'm sorry — those who choose to go to school? School is what molds an undomesticated life form into a legitimate human! It’s homeschooling that irks me.
CS: Look, let’s be honest here. A twelve-year-old with a fine repertoire of air moves and some developing power stands to make millions of dollars in the water as long as he develops completely. Six hours of algebra and homeroom and whatnot is flat-out stealing his future. He should “homeschool.” And by “homeschool” I mean paddle out to Trestles every single day.
BB: The ocean doesn't just shut off once the last bell tolls. The hopeful star can just surf after school, like normal kids. They'd probably be way more disciplined, and that virtue would carry over to surfing. Homeschooling, however, can turn your everyday child into a psychological monster. Sure, they might be able to putter along with a discussion about an upcoming swell or awkwardly compliment a friend’s air, but outside of that they are incapable of interaction. They are truly weird. I once knew a young man who was homeschooled and his mother breast-fed him until he was like 17. That is quintessentially the homeschooling experience.
CS: That is the quintessential homeschooling experience if the kid is being homeschooled for religious, political or social reasons, true. But if he is being homeschooled because he is a rising surf star? Now we are talking about a different sort of creature. We are talking about a breast-feeder who is going to be making millions of dollars throwing the stalefish. We are talking about a socially awkward turkey driving his own Bentley to Rincon. Not to mention that he’s traveling the world. What better classroom is there than the world?
BB: I'd hate to recklessly state a ratio as a means to skew this discussion, so I’ll leave numbers out of it, but about when the surfing dream had dried up? And how about those that never make it to begin with — you know, like, the vast majority. The kids who team mangers looks at and say, “Ehh, here's 2K a year in travel budget.” What should become of them?
CS: That’s loser talk. If a kid doesn’t think he’s going to make it then he should go to school with the rest of the also-rans. He has to believe! And belief is evidenced by mortgaging the future for today. This means “homeschool.” And by “homeschool” I mean live half the year on the North Shore and the other half in Bali.
BB: So, in a perfect world, the heroes will homeschool and leave the rest of us to keep the world in order. Perfect in theory, terrible in reality. Kids believe in ghosts and Santa Claus and the ASP — any kid might truly believe that he or she could make it as a pro surfer. I once whole-heartedly thought I’d someday play hockey for the New York Rangers. I was to be their captain, and I would surf only when I finished laying Sydney Crosby out for the evening. Still waiting on that phone call. So where must we draw the line? Because it's awfully thin and we run the risk of socially lobotomizing a portion of our population.
CS: There should be certain limits. Like, if the kid has never been touted as “the next thing” or never had people clamor that he has “really sick style” then maybe he should re-evaluate his dream… like they say, shoot for the stars and hit the moon. Or shoot for pro surfer and hit team manager. The team manager life ain’t a bad one…
BB: I suppose it’s not. The only downfall is that you have to deal with a bunch of homeschooled kids.
CS: Right. And for those who cannot be team managers, there are plenty of other careers. In my experience, homeschool kids make great Subway sandwiches.