Once upon a time, a prince and princess lived in a land far away.
The prince was destined for great things. His father, in addition to being a king, was also a great wizard, wise in the knowledge of wondrous, magical machines (that you are probably carrying in your pocket).
The princess was revered, not only for her beauty, but for being wise beyond her years. Her father, king in another nearby country, was renowned as a great warrior and philosopher.
The prince was chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps. His father decided that his son would be taught in the finest schools, by the greatest scholars.
The princess’ father decided to let her follow her dreams and passions.
As the years passed, the citizens of each country began to notice strange and wondrous events.
One year, the prince participated in a mighty contest, where students came from near and far to conduct a battle of wills. The prince awed the gathered crowds by demonstrating his wonderful knowledge of the names of the Roman emperors, and the dates of their great victories. And there was great rejoicing.
Meanwhile, the princess was troubled. She had journeyed far, far away to walk in the footsteps of the emperors. She studied their language, and read the books of the great philosophers. She approached her father: “Father, I am troubled. I read how Julius Caesar consolidated his power, and established himself as a supreme ruler, and how the Roman people suffered. And yet, I see the same thing happening today. What should I do?”
On another occasion, the prince’s teachers charged him with a mighty task – spread the word throughout the kingdom of your knowledge of the wonders of “Iron”! So the prince toiled for many minutes to create a Facebook page to demonstrate the wonders of Iron. When the princess saw his beautiful efforts, she remarked, “Your Facebook page is so pretty, and Iron is so interesting. Will you share the miracle of the Iron Age, and how it changed the destiny of humanity?” The prince replied, “Little one, do not trouble yourself with such trivial things. My teachers only desire that I show my people three pictures of iron, with explanations. Besides, I have too many other important tasks to occupy my mind.”
The princess returned to her castle. She pondered the night sky, amazed by its complexity. “Father, I am fascinated by the beauty and wonder of the night sky, but I do not understand what I see.” Her father summoned a great scholar, who appeared as if by magic, floating in front of her eyes, and instructed her on the wonders of the universe. “Father, I have learned so many wonderful things about the night sky, but I want to learn more.” Her father prepared a magic spell, and summoned a mighty telescope, which was delivered from afar. The princess and her father spent many evenings gazing at the wondrous night sky. “Father, this is amazing. I want to learn more.” So her father sent her to the far-off land of Arizona, to study the night sky with great wizards, who controlled fearsome huge telescopes.
The prince’s father was happy. His son had demonstrated to the world his readiness to study with the high priests in the most famous cathedrals of learning in the land. His son would be ready to assume the mantle of leadership.
The princess approached her father. “Father, there are so many wonderful things for me to learn. I wish to travel to a small monastery, on an isolated island. There, a group of monks have dedicated their lives to teaching the mysteries of life to a small group of acolytes.” Her father replied, “Daughter, you are indeed wise beyond your years. Go with my blessing.”
The prince was proud to live in the great cathedral. Once in a great while, he glimpsed the revered teachers far away in their ivory research towers. The novitiates who taught him assured him that, if he continued to follow the rules of learning, one day he may join them in the ivory tower. He, and the other sheep, nodded.
The story of the princess is lost in the mists of time. Fables persisted. Some people believed that she had become an artist; others that she had become a great healer; yet others maintained that she explores the limits of the universe. No one knows her future.
So, at least in my opinion, it is easier for a homeschooled student to avoid being a sheep.
Also, since there is far less emphasis on grades and competition in the homeschool environment, there is less incentive to copy the ideas of others, and a correspondingly greater incentive to dive more deeply into areas of interest.