my turn

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.

See my blog post from Aug 2010.

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

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “my turn

  1. Carolyn

    Great blog, Aimee!! I totally agree with your conclusions… and I must admit, I was one of the “socialization” freaks before home-schooling became so popular. Now I see well adjusted, kind, considerate, brilliant children who come from a home-school situation – and I’ve totally changed my mind. Kudos to you and Scott for sticking to your decision to home-school your children.

  2. Thanks Carolyn that means a lot. Our boys are active, hard headed little boys = bundles of movement at all times, but i honestly believe they are better for being home and lot a ‘problem’ in the classroom. And I know for a fact Big Brother is well beyond his “class mates” int he school he’d be in.

  3. Nice post! I completely agree that the ability of western parents to fret about how many birthday party invitations their kid gets demonstrates our overall freedom from more significant worries. Truly, throughout history, survival was a bigger concern than friends for our kids. Which is not to say that there is no use for or value in childhood friendships, but it’s not more important than raising well-educated, bright, decent human beings.

    I believe homeschooled children are our brightest hope for the future!
    -Danielle

  4. Crystal

    I do find socialization important for if there comes I time I can no longer homeschool, (I would like to make the transition easier on them) BUT- I love with homeschooling I have much more say in who my kids socialize with! At age 6, my kid is only friends who who I say she can be friends with. She only gets to play with who I okay. I get to know the parents well before I allow a lot of playtime. There is no mostly unsupervised play time at recess, lunch, or whatever.

  5. Rebecca

    I think the word socialization says it all and it is the word root this particular word, it’s meaning and it’s context we must address here and that is “SOCIAL”… as in “socialism” (the supposedly less extreme, but in actualality “sneaky” and therefore more evil cousin of COMMUNISM.) The schools are really not so bent on picking on homeschooling families as they are desperate to use the so called “socialization” concept (which is supposely to teach children to get along with one another… in realitity there is always a leader “dictating” the play activity… hmmmm sound a bit like the USSR and Josef Stalin circa 1920’s anybody… or let me put it another way… how many of us read George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm in high school?) to indoctrinate our children in to acceptance of Communism. This has been a deliberate goal of the ACLU and the socialist/communist/liberal political party for at least 100 years in the United States.

    Aimee was correct to be using the quotes from prominant communist/socialist leaders and writers here, because that is the actual agenda of government regimented “socialization” in our schools both public and even to some extent in many private schools as well.

    Most homeschooling families I know are doing so because of concerns with political teaching interfering with actual education of their children in the acedemics. So I wanted to point our the school’s/government’s reasons behind the “playtime” SMOKE & MIRRORS mumbo-jumbo…with the intent of maybe clearing the haze from the eyes of those who have yet to realize the intent behind this socialization phemonenon. School and government personel who question, attempt to interfere and or bad mouth homeschooling families do so out of their own fears and the strong threat that families with conservative beliefs will indoctrinate their own children and future grandchildren with strong family values, a decent moral center and a constitutional view of waht is right and correct in government.

    All of that said, I am not a full-time homeschool mom because my oldest child is a special needs student with autism and I, myself, do not have the specialized training in this area of expertise to help him and motivate him to learn acedemically. Had he been born in an era before special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists, my son probably would have ended up that kid who was kept at home on the farm and largely uneducated and illiterate, becuase his learning needs are so far beyond our skill set as parents to be able to teach him the acedemic things he needs to know. As parents we are quite capable of teaching him home/life skills for him to live the rural lifestyle that he currently has as his goal in life, but we are very challenged (and some days completely overwhelmed) by what should be the simple task (at least for most kids and most families) of getting him to do his homework. Unfortunately, our son’s other major skill defiect (besides acedemic) is of a social nature… how to interact appropriately with both adults and other youth. He struggles in this area at home, at school and in public places (such as a store, resturant, library, church etc.) For a chid like mine, a family must decide for themselves when, where and how much interation with “peers” and other adults outside the family is appropriate for them and I don’t think anybody but the family and the child in question himself are goingto have the answer to that question and certainly not the government. A family must ake this decision on it’s own and be willing to make mistakes in this area, learning to revisit this question frequently for re-evaluation and adjustment if needed.

    In our family we homeschool only during the summer and holiday breaks, when the children otherwise do not have acedemic time. That’s what works for us as a family for now, but I’ve also put our school on notice that if the county/township do not keep the roads passable for the schoolbus or if I catch the school indoctrinating my kids into socialism, I will yank their enrollment in a heartbeat. I probably could homeschool my second-born son easily, but instead choose to send him to school with his brother (more fair to both), primarily to stick up for and interrpet for his older brother. Our new daughter of course stays home with mommy, since she’s only two months old. Likely my husband will be the one voting for homeschool by age 12 for his daughter… specifically for the LACK of peer-age social opportunity… daddy’s #1 fear… daughter dating (he’s already freaking enough about his teenage niece dating)… and # 2 fear… daughter dating will lead to teen pregnancy. NOT TO WORRY… Mama’s a supporter of marriage at gun or arrow point if necessary and of the sterilization of unsuitable boyfriends by crude, barnyard means. This mom is more worried about the 2nd born son, who was flirting with girls in the McD’s Playland by the age of 2 getting some misguided or poorly parented young lady “in trouble”

  6. Rebecca

    I also think as parents the “fear” that our kids won’t be able to interact well with their peers may be largely of a romantic outlook, at least in the long run. Most of us would like our kids to learn to interact with others within a few years of their age bracket, because eventually we would like them to date, marry and give us grandkids. Most of us would not like to return to an era of arranged marriages, regardless of historical or biblical examples. Most of us are saavy enough to have figured out by now that most arranged marriages were done for polictical or economic reasons and at least here in the United States our culture seems to mostly have “evolve” to a point that this no longer seems appropriate or necessary. That is not to say that, as parents we don’t hope to imput in some small way in the matter of our son or daughter’s future mate. A goodly number of us probably take notice of the classmates who are close in age to our child of the opposite gender… be it at school, Sunday School or the kids in some group activity we’ve signed our child up for, to get a general idea of half a dozen or so potential mates for our kid and keep tabs on how those boys or girls progress from one would hope a personality standpoint as they mature. As parents we also take particular notice of the boys or girls that our son or daughter seems most attracted too, even from a very young age. It is the hope of most moms and dads that our kid is attracted to one of the children on our “short list” of potential mates and that that peer-aged child turns out to be a “good egg” rather than a “dud”.

    • Actually, I’d be ok with an arranged marriage for the boys (and especially for any girl I might have). Call me horribly old fashion but i do think that the “dating pool” that our children choose from should be limited to “families mom and dad find acceptable” i.e. family friends. Not an arranged marriage per se but a very limited pool of acceptable dates; be it at church or family friends. I think a lot of the chaos and messed up families and ruined marriages we see today are the result of ‘too much freedom’ and children / teens getting out of control.

      I fully expect the boys will marry girls from families DH and I know; I do not expect my DIL to be strangers carted home from some far off location.

      Just me.

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