To point to the etymological origins of the word and explain why I don’t want that for my child is fine, but it doesn’t actually engage the intent, does it? Most people, when they say they are concerned about the “socialization” of children who are homeschooled, simply mean, “Will these kids learn how to get along with other people?” They worry that homeschooled kids are cloistered away from interaction with society.
As I pointed out in my response, there is a difference in what I will say in discussion and what I will say to a stranger. The grocery store checkout is not really the place for lengthy histories of American public education and the etymology of words. Some possible responses, variations of which I have actually used:
1. Socialization? What do you mean exactly? My children are involved in group activities at the Y, in church and have friends in the neighborhood, not to mention the other homeschoolers I know. There really are a lot of opportunities out there if you think about it.
2. You know, I might have worried about that more back when schools still had recess and did not assign so much homework! (To a casual acquaintance who was upset with her school for these very reasons.)
Still, if we take socialization as essentially meaning enculturation, it is an important aspect of education that should be discussed. How do we plan to teach children about their culture? Public school is not the only place to learn culture and it was not until relatively recently that it even began to undertake such a task. So how do I propose to “socialize” my children?
- Through the family.
- Through the study of history.
- Through the study of literature and the arts.
- Through tradition and etiquette.
- Through the development of godly character.
The family is the primary unit of society. In the family, the child learns to trust. He learns to love and be loved. He learns basic values about right and wrong in a loving environment where those in power have his best interests at heart.
We will study the history of our nation and the highest ideals it has produced. Were our Founders perfect and their motives ever true? Certainly not, but that does not detract from the noble ideas enshrined at our founding. My children will learn that the great men of our history were but men, prone to sin like the rest of us, but that will not take such a prevailing position in our studies as to overshadow the high ideals of liberty and self-government they birthed.
Literature and art exist as a medium of communication. We will look to those Great Works which uphold the good and the true. Will we ignore all others? Certainly not, but our study will concentrate on “books that are books” as Charles Lamb describes them and not “twaddle” as Charlotte Mason describes the opposite. The same selection will exist for our study of art.
We will foster a general respect for tradition as a connection to the past to develop a sense of continuity among our generations. Learning the manners expected in a variety of social situations will also help our children to engage themselves in our culture productively and effectively.
Hopefully, the education our children receive both through “book learning” and the model of their parents will produce in them a genuine faith and an understanding of the Christian walk.
Although it is last, point five is the most important to our family. It is the purpose which directs the preceding points. As a Christian, I desire neither to have my children isolated from nor wholly adapted to our culture. I wish for them to engage the culture, which requires sensitivity, compassion and understanding.
The problem with “socialization” as it affects homeschoolers is not about us desiring to isolate our children or otherwise keep them “cloistered away from interaction with society.” It rests solely on who is in control of this socialization.[tags]homeschooling, education, socialization, homeschool[/tags]