We last wrote about this back in May. You can read that post here. This post is really the same song, different verse. In response to that post our friend Monica R. from the Grizzly Mama blog wrote, “…I was not at all prepared for the real world when I left high school. I was a fish out of water. I felt as if I had been raised in the woods by a pack of wolves…. ” I think that’s true for many of us.
We started hsing in 1988. When we started our reasons and our vision for
what we were doing could be summed up in about one word- reactionary. We had not vision for where we were going or who we were as a family- we simply knew where we were not going and what we were not doing. That’s a start- but it’s not enough to get you down the finish line. (That little sermonette is a freebie, btw)
We had very specific problems in the kindergarten our eldest (The Head Girl)attended. We wanted to remove her from those immediate problems, address them, and ‘return’ her (like a package?) to the public school in another two or three years when we would be living in a different school district.
Each year we homeschooled we our reasons and our vision expanded. It was not until she was 10 or 11 that we realized we were never putting our children in public school again. We had grown in our beliefs about what this whole parenting/education/learning adventure was all about, and it no longer had anything to with what the schools were like, and everything to do with us and what we were like.
When we first began homeschooling, I was concerned about the socialization question. IN fact, it’s one of the first questions I asked my homeschooling mentor. I
signed up for lots of activities, clubs, groups, and so forth. We dropped them
all as we developed our thinking on socialization further.
We picked up one or two again from time to time, but now we do the things we do
because the activities themselves are worthwhile or valuable to us on their
own. We no longer choose our outside activities based on ‘socialization opportunities.’ We’ve found that what we mean and desire under the category ‘socialization’ occurs in more natural settings and not so much in large herds.
If you or somebody you know is concerned about socialization, I would suggest that you or your concerned friend or family member ask some questions about socialization. If you ask yourself these questions it will help you work out some answers that may surprise you. Here are a few suggested questions to consider. This is by no means an inclusive list. The first question is the most important.
1. Define what you mean by socialization. Write down your definition.
When people ask me the ‘S’ question I always respond by first asking them what they mean by socialization. I have been astonished at how many people do not have any idea what they mean. Allan Bloom said about certain ‘catch-phrase’ words, “These words are there where thoughts should be, and their disappearance would reveal the void. The exercise would be an excellent one, for it might start people thinking about what they really believe, about what lies behind the formulas.”*
I think socialization is one of those words, a word which, like the others Alan Bloom talks about, is not a reason but has been substituted for reason itself. It’s a formula, and most people have long forgotten (if they ever really knew) what it is they mean when they invoke that formula.
In most cases, when I ask somebody what it is he means by socialization, he cannot define it, realizes he hasn’t ever thought of it, and the conversation takes a sharp turn into some interesting territory- but that’s surely another post. In a few cases somebody will have thought about it and will have some sort of definition. In that case, it’s time to flesh out the conversation with a few more questions- not necessarily all of them, your friends are not on trial, but one or two of these would might help bring more thought and less formulae to the discussion:
2. Why do you think so?
3. What do you want from this thing you call socialization?
4. Why do you think that a good thing?
5. Assuming that the goals you expect to see from socialization are good things, have you thought about the best ways to meet those goals?
6. Is public school the best or only way to meet those goals? Could you accomplish the same goals through some other method?
7. Think of other skills or goals you have for your children, perhaps learning Spanish or good grammar, or the times table, or always telling the truth. Do you think they would best learn those things by the same process you have in mind for
Let me illustrate:
What I meant by socialization when I first asked this questions was simply good
social skills. A wise hsing mom pointed out to me that if I wanted my child to
learn French I would want her to be instructed by somebody who knew French.
Why then, she asked, did I think it was a good thing for her to learn good
social skills from 30 other 6 year olds who also didn’t have good social skills.
I couldn’t answer her.
Here are some other ‘S’ word questions:
Do your friends all share the same birth year as you?
Do children benefit from friendships with children and adults in other age groups, or should they be isolated the better part of the day with children exactly their own age?
Do your friends all live within the same geographic region (i.e. school district) as you?
Would your child benefit from friendships with people outside your local school district?
Are your friendships based on age and location or on shared goals, interests,
As Allan Bloom points out, when it comes to these little formulaic words which subsitute for thought, we “have taken these words, which point to a rich lode of questions, and treated them as though they were answers, in order to avoid confronting them ourselves.” We learn some interesting things when we start asking ourselves questions.
Incidentally, it was while on my morning visit to the always thought provoking Wittingshire that I read Allan Bloom quotes above and went off on this little rabbit trail of my own. Bloom is specifically talking about a different set of words, and I believe a reading of that post will reward you for your time. Do pay them a visit.