Yesterday, I stumbled upon a blog post that literally made me laugh out loud. The author, a former teacher, shared her views on the shortcomings of homeschooling. Not academically, mind you (“most of them were at or above their designated grades as far as proficiency”), but in terms of… wait for it… socialization.
Yes, I’m with you. The fact that this old saw is still making the rounds makes me want to bang my head against a wall, too. But folks, it’s out there. And apparently, it’s still a bee in the bonnet of those who will begrudgingly wave the white flag when it comes to the idea of children not getting a decent education, but can’t quite admit that maybe homeschooling is a viable option.
Happily, the author of this particular post admits that your nosey neighbor who feels your children are missing out by not participating in playground antics and swapping snack cakes from bagged lunches has it all wrong. It’s not about the casual socialization homeschoolers have been calling baloney on for decades, after all. It’s now about something called educational socialization, and no number of field trips, business opportunities, or co-ops can help with this, we’re assured.
Socialization requires that children consistently work with people they’re not used to working with. It’s about discussing things with people who have a different opinion and challenging preconceived notions. It’s about having to do a group project with people who don’t necessarily work the same way as you do, to collaborate on ideas and grow as a thinker.
Aside from displaying a flagrant lack of awareness of the diversity of the homeschooling community itself, the author here admits, by default, a total misunderstanding of how homeschooling works. Seriously, setting aside the quaint notion that siblings somehow mirror one another in opinions, temperaments, work ethic, etc., is this woman even aware of the breadth of experiences available to homeschoolers that allow them to work with, well… anyone? And by “anyone,” I mean anyone. You want to talk about a limited sample from which to curate your learning experience? How about a group of 30 people, all the same age, from the same ten mile radius? Compare that with an online class pulling from multiple grade levels all over the world? Or a 400-member homeschooling group drawn from three counties, countless economic circumstances, and every strain of faith available?
I’m preaching to the choir, I know. And I’m not going to win the war of words with folks already set on believing that homeschooling is a “less than” choice. And why not? Well, finally, we come to it:
This is something that needs to happen day in and day out, with consistent peers, and is not too different than what we expect of adults in a work setting. People show up, work near and with others who are different from and challenge them, collaborate, and go home. This is something that homeschool programs, unless they mimic a traditional school setting, cannot do.
Did you catch that? Your kids need to be in a classroom, receiving this so-called educational socialization so that they will be prepared to clock in, crank out their 8-hour shift with folks they probably wouldn’t seek out as peers, and clock out.
And all the homeschoolers in the house just gasped. Because, of all the things we envision as we labor to educate our children, this isn’t it. It misses the point by more than a mile.
Whether our kids end up as plumbers, professors, tool and die workers, pastors, cosmetologists, waiters, teachers, or call center employees, not a single homeschooling parents I know hopes their child fits in the kind of box to which this blog post is pointing.
We want our children to become adults who embrace their calling, engage the folks God puts in their paths, act responsibly, walk humbly, show integrity, seek justice.. and do great things. We want them to think on their feet, apply logic, be comfortable not conforming to the current politically correct view, and find joy in the tasks they undertake. We aren’t preparing them for a job market. We are preparing them for a life. And frankly, a traditional school setting is the last place that kind of training is going to take place— educational socialization or not.
Our kids aren’t sitting down in groups of three to put together presentations on Hindu holidays or working with a partner to choose a topic for a research paper related to the outcome of the Civil War. Instead, they are in homeless shelters listening to recovering addicts recount how they hit rock bottom, or visiting a nursing home weekly and getting to know the Korean War vet who just lost his wife of 50 years. They don’t need the dumbed-down version of an “adult setting”— they get the real deal. When on earth will the naysayers figure this out?
Truthfully, the premise of the blog post is correct: homeschooling is a rotten place to learn, as the author says, “to be the kind of workers, leaders, and citizens of the world we need.” Instead, it’s a beautiful launching pad for workers, leaders, and citizens who will make a deep and lasting impression on this world with the skills they’ve learned navigating much more than educational socialization. Homeschoolers may very well have it all wrong by society’s standards, but you know what? We don’t want to be “right.”