My look at socialization
It happens to every home schooling blogging mom; at some point you have to blog your thoughts and feelings and observation on ‘the S word”: Socialization. So bear with me, here my go at it. Maybe my take is a little different, likely not. Socialization. Anti-homeschoolers shout about it, new homeschooling parents worry about it and non-homeschoolers ask about it in hushed concerned voices. That one all important key to the future success of our children? Socialization, that monumental task that no family could ever hope to accomplish with out the assistance of under-paid and under-appreciated school teachers to guide them.
By definition Socialization is the process by which a person learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate to being a member of his or her community, and to society in general. Note this says nothing of playing tag with age-same playmates, or hanging out unsupervised to get into mischief. If fact, the definition, almost inherently negates an age same group; because really what can a 7 year old little boy learn from other 7 year old little boys about norms and values? But that is for a different blog.
An excellent blog I read made the following comment, and I think it is most likely true:
Of course, most people, when they ask about “socialization,” are really asking about social opportunities. Peer time.
I have been pondering this and two main thoughts occur to me. My thoughts principally center around how truly odd that such a thing is a concern, isn’t it amazing that such a thing CAN BE a cause for trepidation? Also, isn’t the entire socialization debate really rather arrogant and furthermore intentionally distracting?
Of course are the famous quotes “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” And from John Holt said, “If I could give just one reason why children should NOT go to public schools, it would be the socialization they receive there. In general, the kind of behavior one finds most often in schools is petty, cruel, and mean-spirited.” But they are quick quips and not really a thoughtful response. (See the bottom of the blog for a few other choice quotes about education and socialization)
Do you think mother’s on at the Mayflower, or mothers in the original 13 colonies, or mothers on the wagon trains headed west worried about the amount of free time their children had to chase balls with age mates? Did the Pilgrims seek out freedom or a good soccer league for 3 and 4 year olds? Or further back do you think mothers of the Industrial Revolution or during the Great Plague or any other event / time that is to us more fiction than Stephen King, were concerned about the amount of time their children spent doing nothing with other kids? Do you think the mothers of the Founding Fathers or the mother of Abe Lincoln carefully arranged playdate and tried to balance the children’s chores and obligation at home and to their school work with adequate peer time? I think it says a lot about this day and time, in this country that the amount of play time a child gets, unfettered by adults, with their “peers” (a group of children their same age, or almost the same age) is deemed something to be concerned about, something for public debate, something total strangers feel it is well within their rights to inquire about. One on hand it shows how really blessed we are, and on the other is illustrates a rather frivolous culture that has loss of sight what is truly of great consequence. Of the truly important for our children, for their future and frankly for the future of the nation as a whole. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to point out that placing children in an age segregated group is much more artificial than life “outside school walls”. I think it is evidence of our economical place (now and in this world) that we can afford to worry if Little Timmy and Little Jill are getting enough peer time, rather than worrying if they are getting enough food or are going to live though the winter. Sadly for a good deal of history, and still for many nations today, those were, and are, the very real fears many mothers and fathers took to bed nightly to toss and turn over. It feels rather pompous to and silly for ‘peer time’ to be a national debate, something of such importance the strangers feel free to quiz parents about it.
Secondly, or if you like thirdly, I strongly feel the concern over socialization misses the entire point or goal of education, of ‘school’. Or perhaps it is meant to distract from the real issue of education? Givens people a reason to attack homeschooling families, an excuse to find fault to happily avoid the real crisis at hand; children that are growing up unable to read well and unable to find their home nation on a globe. I am not the first to point out once a child had to read Latin to get a high school diploma, today they do not even have to read. Education, in a brick and mortar school classroom, or at the dinning room table is not about playing kick ball and sharing secrets, it is about mastering academics. Gathering knowledge, and perfecting skills. Little Jill getting to play on the swings each day, or Little Timmy being the best kick ball player in his grade are meaningless if Little Timmy is not mastering math facts and Little Suzie can’t craft a grammatically correct topic sentence. If our children fall behind their fabled peer group in hard core academics; not the peers down the block but peers across the world; then no amount of kick ball or building a forts is going to allow them to continue to be “peers” with the children / adults that are achieving academically, or keep our great nation on par with other nations either. Our children, home schooled or public schooled, are not going to be competitive and equal to their adult counterparts with a strong education; no matter how nicely they stand in line. I personally feel that placing an emphasis of playtime and ‘peer time’ as children reflects the softening of the American drive for edification and excellence, for personal challenge and real personal accomplishment.
Quote: A freshmen at William and Mary had to “be able to read, write, converse, and debate in Greek”. The King’s College inNew Yorkrequired applicants to translate the first ten chapters of the Gospel in to Latin.
Nevertheless Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe, all educated at home, of course, entered college at age sixteen.
Classroom and academics are almost, and in some cases, blatantly, seen as of equal or lesser important than the ‘social aspects’ or than ‘peers and peer relationships’ to ‘personal growth’. Classrooms focus of ‘management’ and not on learning. The simple fact is, if our children fall behind there is no number of friends, or playground skills, that are going to enable them to compete and excel in the adult world; then their peers will no longer be their peers. Many public schools are indeed faltering in the academic arena; so many people would rather look past the fundamental academics and find some area where they can claim public, group, education is ‘better than’ family based education.
So there you have it, I feel that all the bluster around socialization demonstrates how truly blessed this country and time is; that we have the freedom from real apprehension to worry about our children’s play time. Perhaps it demonstrated the folly of our time a bit too? Furthermore I think that peer time and socialization are a clever slight of hand to remove the focus from the straight academics; maybe because the pubic school by and far are not as successful at that as most would like or expect, so a nice diversion to make the home school movement more suspect? “Let’s not look at skills mastered, and test scores, let’s talk about some phantom peer time”??
Remember Socialization is the process by which a person learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate to being a member of his or her community, and to society in general.
A few quotes regarding education and socialization to think about:
Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.
~Melinda Harmon, U.S. Federal Judge, 1996
The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to me as learning nutrition from a grocery store.
~ Lisa Russell
It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion.
~ Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda
The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.
~ Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
The state will take youth and will give to youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us.
~ Adolf Hitler
The battle for humankind’s future must be won in the public schools by teachers who correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old & the new, the rotting corpse of Christianity with all its adjacent evils & misery, and the new faith.
~ John Dunphy, The Humanist magazine