Thursday, April 17, 2008

Socialize Me!

One of the first things people usually say when I mention that we are homeschooling (although mostly I try to avoid the topic at this point), is "aren't you worried that they won't have a group of friends to socialize with?". Or "what about socialization? It is so important!" Most people who homeschool are probably rolling their eyes about now since it is the first question everyone gets asked. The next one is "what about math and science?"

Forget math and science for a moment...let's talk about socialization.

Truth be told, my views about how many friends one needs in life may be somewhat outside the mainstream. I often feel that so much emphasis is put on being a "team player" and "working well in groups" that it leaves little room for people who have more interior kinds of personalities to be considered perfectly normal and acceptable. At best, they get labeled shy or at worst, told they have some kind of disability that requires treatment. This isn't to say that there are not some people with genuine problems, but I have more than once seen children who are simply more solitary types who live in their heads a bit more than most be labeled...well...just be labeled something other than "normal kid". Normal has become so narrow for children these days.

Plus, I have my own axe to grind. I was always told by teachers and other prominent adults in my life that I was shy. I have spent my whole life thinking, no , believing, that I am a shy person. A shy person with a blog. A shy person who regularly creates large-scale collaborative projects with complete strangers. Wait a minute! Maybe I am not shy! Imagine if I had grown up without that thought constantly echoing in my head.

Better to toss it in the garbage pail after 42 years than never, I suppose, but even better to never have to bother about such nonsense. Do you agree?

Another of the beauty parts about homeschooling is that my children have never learned that you are supposed to feel disdain for younger kids or those other kids, whoever they may be at any given moment. There is very little of the Lord of the Flies kind of competition among the children and there is almost none of the us vs. them stuff between the children and the adults. I don't know exactly why except that perhaps it is because there simply doesn't need to be. We often are in groups that range from infants to teenagers to adults and for the most part, we all get along. I like that kind of socialization.

I suppose I am running the risk of sounding like I am proselytizing for homeschooling. I'm not. I don't think everyone should do it. I know people who are doing it and perhaps should re-consider. But I do sometimes want to counter the fact that parents who have children who go to school seem to feel no problem questioning and even openly criticising my family's decision. Meanwhile, if I were to suggest that some of the socialization that goes on in schools might not be the most healthy thing for some children...well!

Shall we talk about math and science now?


OfTroy said...


getting rid of those labels others have imposed on you.. its a big step.

(and as for math.. i know some great lesson plans for teaching multiplying and dividing with fractions..

and a great lesson plan for Pi..

(and, well, i met you, and sort of know you, and trust you to teach your children.. but i've seen some parents who home school, i wouldn't trust them with a chicken...they are ignorant and closed minded, and all they can teach their children it to be the same)

Patti Blaine said...

Socialization, schmocialization. I wouldn't wish some of what Kate's getting in that department on a prison inmate! Which, funnily enough, at least one of her classmates reminds me of... Better adverbs there might be weirdly, or oddly, or even alarmingly.

I think you are absolutely amazing. Driven, committed, inward-looking, with nerves of steel, comfortable in your own skin, and absolutely amazing.

Kinderlehrer said...

What about turning it around and asking "Aren't you worried about socialisation at school?"

Anyway thought you may like to have a look at some of the studies about the issue that I have started collecting to support legalising home education in Germany.

Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

If you can think of others please let me know.