Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Do You Mean, "Unsocialized?"

Earlier this week, Mr. J. Michael Smith, president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), wrote a Washington Times Op-Ed about the "socialization" of home educated students. I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read his piece yourself:

In the article, Mr. Smith cites recently concluded, long-term research, that proves what homeschooling parents have long known to be true:

Home educated children grow up to be well adjusted, economically productive, community minded, responsible adults.

The study measured issues such as gainful employment, satisfaction with having been homeschooled, participating in community activities, and voting.

While these findings are important, and I appreciate Mr. Smith's article, I don't think it is going to silence the critics who are screaming,

"But what about socialization?!"

This is because, when the critics play the "socialization" card, they are not talking about well adjusted, economically productive, community minded, responsible adults.

Not at all!

What they really mean when they question the "socialization" of homeschooled children, is that they don't have the opportunity to have their attitudes and behavior affected by the "herd mentality" of their peers.

In other words, they don't act like kids their own age.

To clarify, the socialization contingent is worried that homeschooled children will not:

  • Have the chance to tease or be teased, bully or be bullied,
  • Learn to dress, talk, or act in ways that make them "cool" to other kids,
  • Make choices based on what "everybody else" is doing,
  • Go through a stage where their parents are "stupid" and "just don't get it",
  • Be exposed to popular media that their parents might find offensive,
  • Become tolerant of bad behavior and faulty ideas in the name of "diversity",
  • Learn to believe that their parents' religious and/or political views are "narrow minded",
  • Spend large portions of their time involved in competitive sports,
  • Become obsessed with members of the opposite sex, date, and go to the prom,
  • Have their hearts broken, or worse, a few times, because, "it's just part of growing up",
  • Learn to accept mediocrity and become dependent upon others for their identity and self-worth.
I could go on, but I think you get my point.

If you don't believe me, next time someone asks you the dreaded "socialization" question, ask them to clarify,

"What exactly are you worried about?"

Chances are, they will mention these very things.

If you start talking about economic independence, stable, happy marriages, making responsible choices, being involved in community and church activities, having respect for authority figures, or voting, they will probably look at you like you are speaking Martian.

For them, it has never been about whether or not you will raise well-educated, responsible adults

It has always been about whether or not your kids will act in the same silly, cliquey, immature way that every other "normal" kid they know acts.


Anonymous said...

Tiana! Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it. I couldn't help but laugh a little. As a homeschool graduate, I've never been a follower of the crowd but a leader, was always extremely mature for my age and was entrusted with much more responsiblity than 'normal' parents would have given their children. You are so right on with the socialization questions! Thank you:)

Kevin Miller said...

Great post Tiana. Great. Hey...I think you need an eBook. That could grow into hardcopy. Something like "The Case For Homeschooling."

Maybe written by you. Maybe...a collaboration. Come up with the chapters, then you write your take. Then let someone else of a different perspective write. Maybe a 3rd even. I could imagine the cover showing 3 different women. Granola, conservative, liberal...something like that. But so often a topic like 'Homeschooling' get's pigeonholed based on the author that not everyone can relate to.

Anonymous said...

I love this! As a private/parochial then public-school raised kid, I learned how to act like everyone else. As a reformed Christian, I shudder at the thought of putting my kids through the socialism-ization of public school! Great post, my friend!!

Pamela said...

Very nicely summed up. It always amuses me how many people think avoiding overwhelmingly negative influences is somehow a disservice to young children. Constant exposure to belittling and boredom just prepares young people to expect such things as the norm in life, and personally, I hope my kids will continue to question such norms.

AFwife99 said...

A thoughtful post. It is so true, the concern is that your kids act different than the crowd, even though most people don't like how the crowd acts!

Anonymous said...

I am HIGHLY recommending this post to all the homeschoolers I know! You really hit the nail on the head.

It is even worse here on military bases, where children are allowed to run wild because it is "safer" here. You illustrate the point perfectly that homeschoolers care about how their children behave, and have standards of behavior. Hence, our children are seen as misfits because we expect them to behave well.

How sad that society views appropriate behavior and individuality in that way.

Melonie said...

Great post, and I have to second Wendy's comment (because I agree, not just because I'm one of the ones she recommended the post to *chuckle*).

I will play devil's advocate on that one, however, and say that homeschooling does not equal an instant cure for the ails of society. One of the families in our area began homeschooling and their children are some of the worst in the neighborhood - having them home most of the day has actually amplified the problem. So the socialization created by their parents - who are guilty of keeping us all up all hours with their loud parties on weekends, despite quiet hour warnings - is no better than they'd get at school. *sigh*

Eclectic Homeschoolers said...

So true! The herd mentality is so prevalent in schools and that is what people first think about when they question socialization.

Anonymous said...

good post... as I try to decide whether I'll homeschool, I am gripped with the socialization issue. This information was helpful. I do have one question... What exactl did you mean by this: "Become tolerant of bad behavior and faulty ideas in the name of "diversity", "

You and I are coming from two different perspectives it seems but I love your involvment with with homeschool movement and your passion.

p.s. I can today to check out the site from the homeschool lounge and it looks fabulous! I love the earthy look and ease of movement. :)

Anonymous said...

A number of things about this post are disturbing. First: your list of experiences you suggest "socialization" will foster are all directly tied to a loss of control over your children. In other words, the idea that your child might "become tolerant of bad behavior and faulty ideas in the name of 'diversity'" appears to (your biased representation aside) represent a desire to control the messages your children receive. This attitude ironically indicates the exact pursuit of a lack of socialization people in the maniacal "mainstream" worry about. Your perpetuation of the very legitimate fear people have about homeschool children is a sad and clarion call for a re-assessment of values and a hard look at yourself. "Herd mentality"? If you can name a bigger "herd mentality" than the homeschool culture I would be interested to hear it. If you don't believe me, just read every post above this.

Rachelle said...

The self-righteous attitude displayed in this blog and it's comment section is revolting. I am a huge supporter of homeschooling rights and I homeschool my child as well.

However, to peg "every" non-homeschooled child as "cliquey & immature" is quite hypocritical, and downright ridiculous. Especially considering how much of your blog revolves around how judged you feel as a homeschooling parent.

My child is very well-spoken, mature and kindhearted. However, it has nothing to do with his homeschooling and everything to do with his upbringing. These values would have been instilled in him regardless of his educational system. I am in a homeschooling support group and a staggering number of the children we encounter are every bit as unruly and obnoxious as you incorrectly describe all public school children to be.

I guess i'm just a little disappointed in the attitude of the blogger is all. I don't think kids today would have nearly as many problems if the parents would band together and lift one another up instead of tearing each other down and trying to prove who the "best" parents are....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this!

I am not really "homeschooling" yet, I am just a SAHM with twin girls who are 3 and 1/2 and a little boy who is 2. I don't do formal lessons but they sure know a lot more than they are "supposed to" know.

I am struggling because my kids don't seem to act like most kids their ages. They are friendly, outgoing, intelligent, innocent, articulate little children. When they try and meet new friends most kids don't want to interact with them. I have been questioning what I am doing wrong and how my kids aren't "socialized" but then I came across this.

I was reminded that maybe I don't *want* my kids being socialized with these other kids in the community!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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