"The Socialization Deception"

So much has been written about the “socialization” question.  In fact, with homeschooling becoming far more accepted over the 10 years than it was when many pioneers began in the ’80s, the socialization question has been largely laid to rest.

Yes, children who have been educated at home generally fit just fine into society — many times finding it easier to adjust than their public-schooled counterparts.

But there is a question that needs to be addressed.  The premise is found in this quote by Dr. Ruth Beechick:

“[Your answer is] like other answers I hear, where home schoolers say that their children have church activities and team and club activities and so forth. And I think it’s fine to give these answers that your critics understand. But I can’t help wondering if most home schoolers don’t feel they’re playing a little game here with the larger society.

To meet the question in this fashion is in a sense agreeing with the world that children need many hours of association with their age mates, and saying that home schoolers provide those hours just as schoolers do.

But do we agree? Is it natural to grow up spending many hours per waking day with thirty age-mates? Is this best? Is it Biblical? Or is this just an artificial child life that our part of the world has adopted in fairly recent history?”

Dr. Ruth Beechick, Dr. Beechick’s Homeschool Answer Book

Jonathan Lewis of Homeschool Enrichment Magazine addresses this issue in his article, “The Socialization Deception.”

When we hear, “What about socialization?” it is easy to give a trite answer, “Oh, we do this, that, one thing, and another.  You know, we’ve got it covered.”  But at the basis of this answer is an agreement with the questioner that “socialization” the way it is generally defined in society — children need extensive time with their age-mates to be properly “adjusted” — is right for our children.

…[C]ould it not be argued that school-style socialization is actually false socialization, given that schools create an environment that will seldom—if ever—be replicated in life beyond the classroom? After all, when else in life are you compartmentalized with a group of age-segregated peers? Certainly not in the workplace or community.

Additionally, if this form of socialization is so beneficial, why is society not more uniformly considerate and genial? After all, the vast majority of people in our country have gone through this model of socialization as they grew up. Do we see a society filled with wonderful, healthy relationships, or do we see a culture coming face to face with the reality that we have almost lost the idea of what healthy relationships look like?…

Could it be that the socialization found in institutional schools breeds selfishness and a me-first attitude that carries over into adulthood? Could it be that the children who push and shove for their chance at the playground or the drinking fountain—pushing and shoving because being polite and waiting your turn rarely pays off—are the ones who will continue to push and shove their way through life, putting themselves first and others last, because that’s the way they’ve learned to get ahead? Could it be that, in the insufficiently supervised, child-dominated world of institutional schooling, poor social behaviors—selfishness, bullying, intimidation—are rewarded more materially than proper social behavior?

And, of course, if we do not agree that this type of socialization is what we want for our children, then shouldn’t we answer the socialization question in a more honest manner?

I would submit to you that if the purpose of socialization is to teach our children how to be well-rounded adults who know how to appropriately interact with others and experience healthy relationships, there are more effective ways to accomplish this goal than what society in general tends to believe. In other words, there are better approaches to socialization than the intensely age-segregated, peer-based model we typically see.

Mr. Lewis continues on to give us five Scriptural concepts that can help us define the good socialization we want to give our children.

Read the entire article!

Additional Resources

Homeschooling Issues: Socialization
Learn more about socialization and other homeschooling issues in our Still On the Fence series.

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