I ran into a high school acquaintance the other day–he recognized me after 22 years. We exchanged pleasantries and the basic questions: “where do you live, how many kids do you have, where do you work,” etc.
He had three children, one of whom was present during our conversation. In fact, he was a little more than present. He was 8, if I remember, and his Dad was struggling to converse with me, getting on to him for various interruptions and making the “Oh brother….kids” face so I would know that he disapproved of his behavior.
He asked me, “So where do your kids go to school?” And it was as cliched an exchange as ever I’ve had about homeschooling…
“Ohhhhhhh…..well, we send him to school. They just get more socialized there.”
Now first, what am I to say? “Oh, I haven’t thought about that. Do you think we’re ruining our children?” From a guy who I’m pretty sure has not known many homeschoolers personally.
Interestingly–and I think his remark was harmless enough–I can’t imagine telling him I homeschool so my children can be socialized, insinuating that his school choice obviously couldn’t accomplish the task.
But that’s not even the point: as I drove home thinking about this parent’s struggle to simply talk to another human being without his son’s constant interruptions and rudeness, and the fact that the father was very aware (and agitated) and still claimed he believed he would be better socialized at school, I realized that we are talking about two different words.
His definition of socialization? “He gets to play with a lot of people his age.”
The real definition? “The process of learning to interact with people in conformity with the values of one’s society.”
What I’m about to describe isn’t meant as a slight against those whose children are schooled, it’s just a simple matter of facts…
If we are aiming for the real kind of socialization–if we really want to teach proper social behavior, correct social etiquette, manners, conflict resolution, self-worth, and everything else it entails, we certainly wouldn’t prefer other children to be our child’s teachers, no more than we could expect someone to teach an instrument who themselves had not yet learned.
Additionally, if we want a well-rounded socialization course, we wouldn’t expect to find it in a room for most of the day, with no interaction with the real world or little variation in age range and intelligence.
It doesn’t mean a child will not learn proper social skills, but it will likely be in spite of the influences of other children who don’t know them yet either, not because of them.
Again, my point is not to try to slight those whose children are in a conventional setting, but rather to expose a faulty rationale, one homeschoolers are frequently and unashamedly questioned by.
I just think we need to be honest. School may very well offer you things you think are important. State those things with confidence. School might be a lot of things, but a great place to be socialized isn’t one of them.
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