‘Aren’t you worried about socialization?’
I’ve spoken about the socialization issue before (here and here), but it’s the absolute number one question homeschoolers get so I think it requires some attention. When people ask if I am worried about socialization the answer is yes and no. Yes, I’m worried about it, that’s why I’m homeschooling. No, I’m not worried about it in the slightest for my kids who don’t attend school.
People seem to have developed the belief that socialization equals school. Spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, with people of the same age for 13 years produces socialized adults. Really? Some of the most antisocial and unpleasant people I’ve ever met were from my time at school. When I think back to all the ‘socialization’ I learned there, this is what comes to mind…
I learned to fit in, not stand out or I might be ridiculed.
I learned to keep quiet and not offer my answer in case I got it wrong and was laughed at.
I learned that knowledge equals power. Let me rephrase, gossip equals power.
I learned that individuality was not a good quality.
I learned that girl friendship groups were based on manipulation, gossip, bitching, and power.
I learned not to defend others, it would just make me the next target.
I learned that doing well meant outdoing other people, even friends.
I learned that ‘dobbing’ on a bully would probably just make things worse.
I learned that your value as a person depends on your appearance.
I learned that it was ‘uncool’ to be too smart.
I learned that being good at sport was more valuable than being good at maths.
I learned not to sit next to the ‘uncool’ people or I might be made fun of too.
Not exactly the kinds of things we hope our kids learn are they? Sure, I made some great friends and I enjoyed my time with them, and still do! But I don’t think I learned ‘good’ socialization. I don’t think I learned the qualities I want to encourage in my own children. I didn’t learn to be kind and compassionate and accepting from school. I think I am now, hopefully! But school was not the place that fostered that.
I do not agree that teaching socialization means sticking a group of kids together with no guidance other than punishment when they do the wrong thing. You don’t learn socialization from only people your own age, with the same level of social skills as you. You learn from being guided and supported in social situations. And you learn from watching older children and adults model appropriate behaviour and relationships. This happens outside of school!
So when I’m asked ‘Aren’t you worried about socialization?’, I think ‘Yes! That’s why I homeschool’.