A few weeks ago there was a question from a reader posted on Simple Homeschool’s facebook page about what you should say to people when they are against homeschooling for socialization reasons. Eighty-eight people responded to this question with great energy and one of the answers was a link to the video up above (I laughed out loud when I saw it). The answers to this question varied but they all followed similar themes. Here are a few of my favorites
“I appreciate where you are coming from. But I also know school should be about learning, and outside activities are when our kids should socialize. If there was less socializing in the classroom maybe kids would not have so much homework. Besides, last I checked most offices were not staffed by a group of people all the same age from the same nieghborhood. By being with all different age groups and having to learn to interact with them, I feel my child will be better prepared to interact with the diversity they will encounter in the “real world….”
“In the words of my 9 year old son: “Well, we have lots of friends and do lots of fun things. Like we studied volcanoes once. Hawaii is really cool for that. And we studied China. Have you been to the Great Wall? It’s pretty cool to hike on. And you know what else is really neat? Rocks. You should see the rocks in the Grand Canyon. . . . So, what do your kids do to learn cool stuff?” And anyone who has met my 16 year old for the first time, always comments on how well he can talk to adults. . . Imagine. A TEEN who enjoys talking to adults, looking them in the eye, and here’s the real kicker — he knows how to shake hands with a firm grip. . . . Yeah, imagine. Why on earth would I want a bunch of completely inept kids responsible for “socializing” mine?”
“I was public schooled, and it was only after I graduated that I overcame my shyness and low self-esteem, and started being properly “socialized”.”
My question after reading all of this was, “What kind of socialization are kids really getting in school?”
According to Dictionary.com, socialization is:
a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
As a former teacher of a multi-age 2nd and 3rd grade classroom I saw all sorts of socialization first hand. I saw girls crying in the cubby room because another girl wouldn’t play with them, I caught a child stealing money from other children so that he could afford the toys his friends had, I saw many children being bullied, there were lessons in survival of the fittest, cliques, social order, social trends, social media and consumerism. Many students quickly learn the norms and behaviors of a classroom (sit quietly during a lesson, raise your hand when you want to speak, pay attention, do not question authority, walk in a line and do what was is asked of you) and the rest of their socialization is usually covered on the playground, school bus and in the cafeteria. It is during these times, with little adult supervision/interaction, that many of the social issues arise.
Our schools are too busy teaching to the test and thus are not teaching our young people to be good citizens. There are few lessons in teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, cooperative learning, empathy, respect etc. In my classroom I made time for these important life lessons. We spent a lot of time working in cooperative groups, celebrated our likes and differences, we talked about and role played scenarios around feelings, I chose literature with important moral lessons and we would discuss at length, I taught and modeled problem solving (using Peaceable Classroom), we held morning meeting where we practiced sharing and listening by doing a daily roses and thorns and we constantly talked about respect. I made time for these important life skills and made sure to model them everyday. This is not the case in every classroom in the USA because most do not have the time or the resources to do it. I am not sure that if I were teaching today I would even have the time to run an effective morning meeting or take out the Peace Path in times of conflict.
So what is the social advantage of being in school?? Many would say that it is important for kids to learn how to deal with other kids and learn how to work out their own issues. I agree with this but would you let your 16 year old take out your car with out any practice or skills? Would you let them figure it out while driving for the first time?? This is what we are asking our kids to do everyday…..we are asking them to figure it out while they are in the middle of some really tough situations without any of the skills needed to help them. And it is NOT WORKING.
Do I want to homeschool my kids? I really do not know. There is a big part of me that would LOVE to try it, at least for awhile. There is another part of me that would love to find an amazing, affordable school that is right for my children. I just wish the idea of homeschooling were still not so controversial. Even I use to question its value until I met my husband. He is one of the most social, well rounded and smartest people I know and his socialization did not happen in a public school.