Sunday, April 29, 2007

Homeschooling and Socialization Skills

When I was growing up, homeschooling was not an option in my town. I went to public schools in the South, and though they had their drawbacks, the situation was vastly different back then (40's & 50's). For one thing, we went to segregated schools, Jesus was not a problem, and by 1954, Elvis was King. The teacher's colleges were not pumping out dehumanized, secular humanist teachers. The curricula was focused on the basics of science, math, English courses. Geography was about geology, in American history we learned about, well, American history. In our schools we were encouraged to strive for excellence, in sports as well as academics. Socialization was accomplished in our contact with our peers, sports, after-school and summer jobs, church, our families - in most instances, extended families, and dating. We celebrated 'sameness', rather than 'diversity'. I think we were fiercely individualistic sovereigns, but within the structure of a social contract. Though, being kids, we would have laughed at the notion.

The high school's curricula was presented in two streams: classical, which focused on languages, Latin classics, and American literature, and the other stream was concentrated science studies. We were allowed to choose between the two, just as long as we passed the core subjects. All in all, it was a pretty good school system. But see, that's just the thing: it wasn't "just a school system". The town, the churches, and the schools had a core understanding of what it meant to be an American and what it meant to be good, as well as bad. Our belief system was rooted in the Constitution and American history, which was further rooted in democratic ideals upon which our society rested. The spirit of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated, revered even. There was discipline and authority, and vandalism was very rare. Oh yeah, there was school-yard justice, too. You learned what was tolerable behavior, and what wasn't. In school, if we messed-up, we were punished. But we drew our sustenance from all the above mentioned. There was a fairness about life.

I personally was a very rebellious kid, often clashing with the authorities and my teachers, mostly about homework, which I detested. One of my teachers, a 'coach' who also taught something, I forget what, cheerfully told me I would never amount to anything, and was always on my case. Soon after opportunity presented itself, I lied about my age, joined the National Guard, signed up for three months active duty, went to Ft Jackson, SC, took Infantry Basic Training (and had my first contact with Blacks - my platoon sergeant was black, fought in WW11- and an awesome man), and came back at the end of summer just in time to start the eleventh grade. After that, the coach left me alone. Actually, I would recommend infantry basic training for any sixteen year old boy, especially if he's being picked on. It does give you an edge.

I might also mention, in passing, that there were no "gays" in our school, though there was a gay man in town, known simply as "Goose". We stayed away from him. Neither was there Ritalin, Prozac, or any other psychotropic or anti-depressant drugs. And no street drugs, other than alcohol, but I lived in a "dry" county, so alcohol was hard, though not impossible, to come by. Being normal kids, we sometimes managed to find alcohol. No pot though,- no hash, Angel Dust, LSD, ecstasy, coke, smack, crack, crank, no nothing. We were so fortunate.

I had occasion a few years ago, to substitute teach in a public school where I now live in Northern New Jersey. I showed up on the day a teacher went in for surgery, so I was asked to stay with the class (fourth grade) the remainder of the year, which I did. It was a very confusing scene I encountered. Almost total chaos: kids out of control, security guards to haul out the most persistent trouble-makers; my kids were afraid to go outside at lunch time, and asked me to sit with them in the cafeteria during lunch. Lunch, if you could call it that, was delivered by an outside vendor, and consisted of disgusting dry hamburgers, an apple, juice. I wouldn't have fed a dog what they were expected to eat. After awhile, they loosened-up and talked to me. They mostly just wanted to talk to an understanding adult who was willing to listen. Mostly, they need someone who will simply listen to them . Some of them shyly hinted at what it was like at home. Others airily gave up details which belied their fears.

Some of these children were from third-generation welfare families. Who knows how they will fare? Father in the wind, mother in jail, many of these kids are raised in foster homes or by their grandmothers, who are themselves sometimes addicted to drugs. Socialization? Some of these little guys are animals, even at the tender age of eleven and twelve. What's worse, many of the educators are unwilling to acknowledge anything wrong. The administration is too busy worrying about numbers to feed into the federal programs, lest they get into hot water, and lose their funding. I would not want my child to enter into such a school system, and in fact when my daughter was growing up, she went to private schools in NYC. Never-the-less, in the universities she became indoctrinated with the Leftist agenda of "never being right about anything", except to say that anyone who believes they are right about something, is wrong. Go figure.

How ironic that the "never be judgmental" mentality of the Left has become the most intolerant of any view in opposition to moral relativism. Gone is any notion of a social contract. Life is just an open-air fruit stand. Take what you like. Gone any shared views of good or bad or a vision of an ordered societal good. "In God we trust" has become not only obsolete, but a threat to the morass passing for moral justice these days.

So, you've got kids in preschool, wondering about their education. What to do? Pack them off to the public school system? - where the real focus is not on teaching subjects anymore, but rather, how to be a member of a New World Order, which happens to be a major goal of the NEA. Their goal is to inculcate an identity, not as a patriotic citizen of America, but to a global identity in which all values are relative, and encouraged to blossom into a rainbow of moral degeneracy. That means certain terms, like 'Mom' or 'Dad', or even 'family' must be deleted from their minds. For that to happen, the textbooks must be revised, with all such words elided. And the universities, the publishers, the reviewers of books, the NEA, the school boards, and the teachers are all on board with this agenda being pushed by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford, and Carnegie Foundations, and the various think-tanks who sit around, cooking up ways to take America down. Think they can't do it? Friends, they are doing it. Maybe you should look at the homeschooling option. There are many places to go for advice on how to succeed at homeschooling your kids. Why not look into it?

And yet today, when the word "homeschooling" comes up, the concern that many adults have is "But will they be socialized?" Ahem. Socialized into what? Today it is simply assumed that the public schools are the best place for children to receive socialization skills and good social temperment. Why not the family? There are factors necessary for a good home school environment. Here is where I turn to the experts: the homeschool parents...

- From the Home Page -

Homeschooling and the Myth of Socialization

by Manfred B. Zysk
December 16, 1999

One of the silliest and most annoying comments made to homeschooling parents is, "Aren't you concerned about how your child will be able to socialize with others?". What is being implied here is that the homeschooled child is some kind of introverted misfit who cannot relate to other people, children, and the outside world. In reality, most of the homeschooled children that I have known and met are not only outgoing, but polite and respectful, too. This is a sharp contrast to the public school children that I have known, who can't relate to adults and whose behavior is rude and inconsiderate. Realistically, there are some exceptions on both sides.

Isn't it interesting that amid all of the public school shootings over the past few years, the only comment that opponents of homeschooling can come up with is the red herring of "socialization"? You may have noticed, there haven't been shootings at private schools, or shootings inside of the homes of homeschooled children.

Opponents of homeschooling can't complain about average test scores, since homeschooled children consistently outscore public school children, so they instead make a problem that doesn't exist.

Who is responsible for creating this "socialization" problem? This myth has been perpetrated by sociologists, psychologists, public school administrators, the NEA (and local teacher's unions), etc., whenever they comment on homeschooling to the news media. These are the same people who give Ritalin (a very strong narcotic) and other drugs to schoolchildren, in place of discipline.

A family member asked my wife, "Aren't you concerned about his (our son's) socialization with other kids?". My wife gave this response: "Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate." Good answer.

In order for children to become assimilated into society properly, it is important to have a variety of experiences and be exposed to differing opinions and views. This enables them to think for themselves and form their own opinions. This is exactly what public education does not want; public education is for the lowest common denominator and influencing all of the students to share the same views ("group-think") and thought-control through various means, including peer-pressure.

Homeschooling allows parents the freedom to associate with other interested parties, visit local businesses, museums, libraries, etc. as part of school, and to interact with people of all ages in the community. For example, my son goes on field trips with other homeschooling families in our community. He recently was able to visit an audiologist, a McDonald's restaurant (to see how they run their operation), and several other similar activities. He gets to meet and talk to people of different ages doing interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) occupations. He spends a lot of his free time with kids older and younger than himself, and adults from twenty to over ninety years old.

Meanwhile, in public school, children are segregated by age, and have very little interaction with other adults, except their teacher(s). This environment only promotes alienation from different age groups, especially adults. This is beginning to look like the real socialization problem.

My wife and I like to bring our son with us when we are visiting with friends and other adults. How else will he learn to be an adult, if he never has contact with adults? He knows what kind of behavior we expect from him, and the consequences of his actions. He is often complimented on his good manners by friends and adults.

In conclusion, homeschooling parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, but I have never heard any homeschooling parent say that the reason they want to homeschool is to isolate their child from all of society. But, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea for homeschooled children to stay away from public school administrators, the NEA members, sociologists, and others who cannot properly "socialize" with children.

Go to your local public school, walk down the hallways and see what behaviors you would want your child to emulate.

Manfred B. Zysk has been homeschooling for five years, with the help and dedication of his wife, Margaret Zysk. They work with other homeschoolers in Idaho.

Family Times has this to say:

March/April 2002
Volume 10, No. 1

No Thank You, We Don’t Believe in Socialization!
by Lisa Russell

I can’t believe I am writing an article about socialization, The word makes my skin crawl. As homeschoolers, we are often accosted by people who assume that since we’re homeschooling, our kids won’t be “socialized.” The word has become such a catch phrase that it has entirely lost any meaning.

The first time I heard the word, I was attending a Catholic day school as a first grader.

Having been a 'reader' for almost 2 years, I found the phonics and reading lessons to be incredibly boring. Luckily the girl behind me felt the same way, and when we were done with our silly little worksheets, we would chat back and forth. I’ve never known two 6 yr. olds who could maintain a quiet conversation, so naturally a ruler-carrying nun interrupted us with a few strong raps on our desk. We were both asked to stay in at recess, and sit quietly in our desks for the entire 25 minutes, because "We are not here to socialize, young ladies."

Those words were repeated over and over throughout my education, by just about every teacher I’ve ever had. If we’re not there to socialize, then why were we there? I learned to read at home. If I finished my work early (which I always did), could I have gone home? If I were already familiar with the subject matter, would I have been excused from class that day? If schools weren’t made for socializing, then why on earth would anyone assume that homeschoolers were missing out?

As a society full of people whose childhood’s were spent waiting anxiously for recess time, and trying desperately to "socialize" with the kids in class; It is often difficult for people to have an image of a child whose social life is NOT based on school buddies. Do you ever remember sitting in class, and wanting desperately to speak to your friend? It’s kind of hard to concentrate on the lessons when you’re bouncing around trying not to talk. Have you ever had a teacher who rearranged the seats every now and then, to prevent talking, splitting up friends and 'talking corners.' Were you ever caught passing notes in class?

Read the rest.