**I’m reposting this blog post since it is one that so often I am called back to. Will people ever stop asking about homeschoolers and socialization??**
Of course this is the most common comment that we get when people find out that we homeschool. If it isn’t spoken, then it is often implied, “Oh! You home school!” the brow gives a slight crinkle and a momentary look of incredulity passes over those eyes that once shared camaraderie.
Sometimes I feel defiant, others resigned. Mostly I smile and laugh and just explain that yes we do like spending time together and that we often spend far too much time playing with friends of all ages – after all, our schooling is done earlier than their child’s is and we don’t have homework in the evening.
I was thinking recently about how we started into this journey of homeschooling, how Mama thought it a good idea but Daddy was unsure. So Mama, being the scholar that she was set up a research project, reading, weighing the pros and cons and presenting them to her man, trying to be objective. Eventually this lead to a round of interviews (read: dinner parties) with homeschoolers and public school teachers and parents who had made a variety of educational choices for their children.
The clincher for us? One evening, over a dinner party with one of the subjects of our many case studies my hubby says, “So what about socialization?” Gales of laughter from the other Papa. “Do you really think that going to school ensures that kids will be well socialized?” Light bulb! We had this conversation in the temporal shadow of the horrific events of Columbine High School. Of course, the events at Columbine weren’t typical of schools at all but what was typical? Bullying, behavioural problems that plague the staff and leave many students heavily drugged, many students leaving the education system unprepared for life, cultural values being taught that often conflicted with our own family values. No, we wouldn’t miss the socialization that schools promised.
So then I start to think… what exactly is socialization? Is it being able to act properly in a social setting? Having “social graces”? Being able to interact with others in a “normal” way? Is it spending lots of time with friends instead of just family?
Well, scholar Mama goes back to the dictionary. “Webster’s College Dictionary says, socialization is a continuing process whereby an individual learns and assimilates the values and behaviour patterns appropriate to his or her culture and social position…..”
Hmm, maybe we need to question the need for socialization…. Do we want our kids to learn and to assimilate the values of our culture, a culture that values financial success over compassion, a culture that denies the involvement of the Creator in the cosmos? Do I trust popular culture to tell my family the best way to act in a situation, to behave around others? Maybe socialization isn’t a goal for our abundant life education after all. Maybe we should be assimilating a different set of values. Not values that come from the homeschooling lifestyle but values that come from living life according to the Word. That’s countercultural. Maybe we need to counter-socialize (or be anti-social?): to live a life that acts in light of eternity rather than in light of our cultures latest fads.
Do we need to homeschool in order to properly overcome the socialization monster? No. But it’s nice to be able to “socialize” during all that extra time that we have when school ends by lunch and the evenings are for relaxing instead of homework.
Wishing you a counter-social week.