Saturday, January 16, 2010

It depends on what you value

I had a recent conversation with a good friend who works at a public school. I was a bit surprised by some of her conclusions about homeschoolers. During the course of the conversation, I realized that we were talking at cross purposes. Many of the things that she believed were negatives associated with homeschooling, I thought were positives. We agreed that our perspectives were different because we valued different things.

For example, socialization is often brought up in the homeschool debate. For many in mainstream America, socialization is measured by interactions among "peers" of the same age and in the same short-lived, artificial bubble (class at school, youth group at church, sports team, and so forth). That type of socialization is valuable to my friend, which is not surprising, considering the nature of her job.

When I define socialization, its end goal is not transitory popularity on the playground. I grade socialization by how well a child interacts in adult society and takes upon himself adult roles. I value peer interaction only as a means to an end.

Of course, I want my children to have friends, but in a broader social context. I expect interaction among youth to serve a long-term function of integrating them into civilized society, not to entrench them in a separate and degenerate subculture.* This is one of the primary reasons we do not send our children to school (public or private).

On more than one occasion, I've heard homeschoolers criticized for interacting too well with adults and not mixing enthusiastically enough with youth of their same age.

Obviously, we don't value the same things.

*Paul Graham's essay, Why Nerds are Unpopular, does a great job of exploring this issue.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


Rana said...

I agree. Society wants kids to grow up, but how are they supposed to grow up if they can't watch and be with adults and model that behavior if they are only allowed to be with kids their own age?

Janine Cate said...

> are they supposed to grow up if they can't watch and be with adults and model that behavior ...

That's the problem with institutionalized education. Not enough adults. Youth need adult role models and interaction more than they need to memorize facts.

Happy Campers said...

We have heard over and over that our son "speaks like an adult" and has the "manners and behavior of an adult". He is 6, and I take that as a compliment.

He is easily able to make friends in new settings yet he relates to adults equally well. So many folks are shocked by this...

I think your post is spot on. When someone asks me about his "socialization"...we say he is being socialized in the REAL world :)

Amy said...

I have one child who is homeschooled and one child who attends public school - only because we believe that educational needs are strictly individual. As for the socialization issue - I agree 100% with you! I am in the unique position of being able to see both sides of the issue. While my daughter's educational needs have her in public school right now, I can see where her social skills are lacking when compared with my homeschooled son's. My son is much more mature than her and he's only a year older. My daughter tends to care more about what she's wearing to school than what she's learning in school. She will not look an adult in the eye when speaking, and often imitates the Hannah Montana-like friends in her class. We are at a crossroads now in the decision-making process for her. To homeschool her or not - educationally, the public school is better FOR HER (she has been accepted to an advanced school for Math and Engineering and is making straight A's - which I honestly can't compete with). Socially, I prefer homeschool though.

Luke Holzmann said...

Loved the article. Thanks for linking!


Robert M. Lindsey said...

You are so right. What we value is so different from what others value. Recent interactions with our families have really brought this out for me (not about homeschooling but values in general).

Janine Cate said...

Have you looked into online programs? Many universities offer on-line high school programs that are relatively inexpensive and also give the student the foot in the door at the university. Many of the courses can also count for college credit.
It would be hard to transition a socially focused kid back to a homeschool setting.

Good luck.

Janine Cate said...

>..we say he is being socialized in the REAL world :)

I like that response.

Janine Cate said...


So you liked the "Nerd" article? It is a real eye opener.


We run into that values conflict regularly too in places that sometimes surprise me.

Luke Holzmann said...

I'm about to blog about it myself, Janine [smile]. So much good stuff. I also started reading his article on essays and had to stop myself and get back to work [smile].