Article about Socialization

*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? *

*Now- flash forward to "real life." Imagine the following scenes: *

*Your Employer is auditing the Inter-Office Email system and comes across a
personal note between you and a coworker. You are required to stand at the
podium in the next sales meeting to read it aloud to your coworkers. The
Police knock on your door, and announce that because you and your neighbor
have gotten so close, they're separating you. You must move your home and
your belongings to the other side of town, and you may only meet at public
places on weekends. *

*You're sitting at a booth waiting for a coworker to arrive for a scheduled
lunch date. Suddenly a member of upper management sits down across from you
and demands your credit cards. When your friend arrives, you just order
water and claim you're not hungry, since he stole your lunch money. *

*You're applying for a job and in an unconventional hiring practice, you are
made to line up with other applicants, and wait patiently while
representatives from two competing companies take their pick from the
lineup. *

*You're taking your parents out for an anniversary dinner. After you find a
table, a waiter tells you that seniors have a separate dining room, lest
they "corrupt" the younger members of society. *

*You go to the grocery store only to find that since you are 32 years old
you must shop at the store for 32 year olds. It's 8 miles away and they
don't sell meat because the manager is a vegetarian, but your birthday is
coming up and soon you'll be able to shop at the store for 33 yr. olds. *

*You'd like to learn about Aviation History. You go to the library and check
out a book on the subject only to be given a list of "other subjects" that
you must read about before you are permitted to check out the aviation book.
*

*You're having a hard time finding what you need in the local department
store. The saleslady explains that each item is arranged alphabetically in
the store, so instead of having a section for shoes, you will find the men's
shoes in between the maternity clothes and the mirrors. *

*Your Cable Company announces that anyone wishing to watch the Superbowl
this year must log on a certain number of hours watching the Discovery
Channel before they can be permitted to watch the game. *

*You apply for a job only to be told that this job is for 29 year olds.
Since you're 32, you'll have to stay with your level. *

*In a group project, your boss decides to pair you up with the person you
don't "click" with. His hope is that you'll get learn to get along with each
other, regardless of how the project turns out. *

*These absurd examples were created to point out how absolutely ridiculous
the idea of "socializing" in schools is. Many people had a friend who they
stayed friends with all through grammar school- WHY? Because their names
were alphabetically similar, and they always ended up in line with each
other. As an adult, have you ever made friends with someone simply because
your names were similar? How long would such a friendship last and how
meaningful would it be, providing you had nothing else in common? *

*People often use the bully as an example of why it's so important to let
kids "socialize" at school. If that's so important, then the bully needs to
go to JAIL after a few months, because self-respecting society simply
doesn't put up with that, nor should my 6 yr. old. Sure, there are
unpleasant people in the world, but the world does a much better job of
taking care of these things. A bullying brat in the first grade will still
be a bullying brat in the 6th grade. He will still be picking on the same
kids year after year after year, unless he moves to a new town. How long
would the average adult put up with a bully? Personally, as an adult, I have
only come across one grown up bully. I choose not to be around this
miserable woman. So do many other people. THAT is real life. If she were a
coworker, I would find a different job. If she worked at a business I
patronized- not only would I refrain from doing business with that company,
I would write a letter to the bully, her manager, the owner and the main
office. A kid in a classroom has no way to emotionally protect themselves
against such a person. I would never expect my kids to put up with bad
treatment from a bully in the name of "toughening them up." For what? So
they can be submissive wimps when they grow up too? So they can "ignore"
their miserable bosses and abusive spouses? In real life, if an employer
discovered that an employee was harassing the other staff members, that
employee could be fired (pending the 90 day evaluation) or relocated. In
real life, if you are so dreadfully harassed by a coworker you can seek
legal recourse independently. In a classroom, the teacher and other children
are often powerless. *

*The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to
me as learning nutrition from a grocery store. *

*As Homeschoolers, the world is our classroom. We interact with people of
all ages, sexes and backgrounds. We talk to and learn from everyone who
strikes our interest. We use good manners in our home and I'm always pleased
when others comment on the manners my children have picked up. I believe
good manners to be an important social skill. *

*Respecting common areas is also of value to us. We often carry a grocery
bag with us on walks, in case we find trash that needs to be discarded. When
we're waiting at a bus stop, if there is trash on the ground, we make a
point to carry it onto the bus and discard of it properly. Once, while
waiting at a bus stop- we saw a grown man drop his popsicle wrapper on the
ground. He was 2 feet from a trash can- My daughter looked up at me with
eyes as big as saucers. I told her (out loud) "It must have blown out of his
hand from that little wind, because no-one would throw trash on the ground
on purpose. I'm sure when he's done with his popsicle, he will pick it up
and throw it away correctly- otherwise, we can take care of it so we don't
have an ugly world." He did pick it up, rather sheepishly. I can't imagine
expecting my children to have a respect for the cleanliness of common areas
in an environment where bathroom walls are covered in graffiti and trees are
scratched with symbols of "love" of all things. *

*Another social skill we strive to teach our children is that all people are
created equal. I can't imagine doing that in an environment where physically
disadvantaged children are segregated into a "special" classroom. Or even
children who speak a different language at home. They are segregated and
forced to learn English, while never acknowledging the unique culture they
were raised in, and not enabling the other students to learn FROM them.
Learning, in school, comes from the books and teachers. We will learn
Spanish from a BOOK, not from a Spanish-speaking student; and not until 7th
grade. *

*I have never felt it would be beneficial to stick my 6-yr. old in a room
full of other 6-yr. olds. I believe God created a world full of people of
all ages and sexes to insure that the younger ones and older ones learn from
each other. A few years ago, we were living thousands of miles from any
older family members, so I brought my kids (then 5 and 2) to an assisted
living facility, so they could interact with the elderly. Staff members told
us that many of the older people would wake up every day and ask if we would
be visiting soon. We always went on Wednesdays. My daughters learned some
old show tunes while one of the men played piano, and the others would sing
along. If I didn't have to chase my 2-yr. old around, I would have had
plenty of women ready to share the art of crocheting with me (something I've
always wanted to learn.) If a friend was too sick to come out of their room
during our visit, we would often spend a few minutes in their room. I always
let them give the kids whatever cookies they had baked for them, and I ended
up cleaning a few of the apartments while we visited, simply because I would
have done the same for my own Grandmother. Every room had pictures from my
kids posted on their refrigerators. We called this "Visiting the Grandmas
and Grandpas" and my daughters both (almost 2 years later) have fond
memories of our visits. I'm sure that if we were still visiting there, my
unborn child would have a thousand handmade blankets and booties to keep him
warm all winter. *

*I don't remember any such experiences in my entire School life, although I
do remember being a bit afraid of old people if they were too wrinkly or
weak looking. I never really knew anyone over 60. I never sped down the hall
on someone's wheelchair lap, squealing as we popped wheelies and screeched
around corners. I never got to hear stories about what life was like before
indoor plumbing and electricity, from the point of view of a woman with
Alzheimer's, who might believe she was still 5 years old, talking with my
daughter as if she were a friend. I never got to help a 90 yr. old woman
keep her arm steady while she painted a picture. And I never watched a room
full of "grandmas" waiting for me by the window, because we were 15 minutes
late. *

*On a recent visit to an Art Gallery, we noticed a man walking back and
forth, carrying framed artwork from his old pickup truck. I asked my 6 yr.
old if she thought he might be the artist. We both agreed that was a
possibility, and after a little pep-talk to overcome her stage fright, she
approached him and asked. He was the artist, and he was bringing in his work
to be evaluated by the curator. We all sat down and he explained some of his
techniques and listened to her opinions about which piece she liked best. He
told about how he enjoyed art when he was 6 and would "sell" pictures to
family and friends. He recounted how he felt while creating a few of the
pieces, and how each one has special meaning to him. He even let her know
how nervous he was to show them to the curator and how he hoped she found
them as interesting as we did. As he was called into the office, a group of
thirty-four 3rd graders filed past, ever so quietly, while their teacher
explained each piece on the walls. The children were so quiet and well
behaved. They didn't seem to mind moving on from one picture to the next
(The problem with homeschoolers is they tend to linger on things they
enjoy). They didn't seem to have any questions or comments (Maybe they'll
discuss that later in class). And they never got a chance to meet the
gentleman in the pickup truck. *

*I hope my kids aren't missing out on any "socialization." *





Lisa Russell is a Gen X homeschooling mom, writer, wife, daydreamer, U.S.
traveller, hiker, poet, artist, web designer, and whatever else suits the
moment.


Many thanks to Lisa for her kind permission to use her article here!