Homeschooling Myth #2: The Myth of Socialization

This post is the second in a series I’m calling “Homeschooling Myths.”  I hope you read them all, share them with your friends (or enemies, either way) and let me know what you think in the comments.

Before I begin I feel I must offer a disclaimer to this post: it is rated “M” for mature due to the fact that, for the purpose of illustration, it does contain some sexual references.

THE MYTH OF SOCIALIZATION

It is truly mind-boggling how many people think they have the right to question a parent’s decision to homeschool their child.  And it’s equally mind-boggling how they all seem to ask the same uncreative question, “But what about socialization?”

I’m entering my 22nd year of homeschooling and, thankfully, I don’t hear that question very often anymore.  I think that’s more because I don’t get out as much these days – I only have one child who doesn’t have a driver’s license so I’m not chauffeuring kids around to ball games and dance lessons like I used to.

In any case, I do hear from other homeschooling parents, especially those who are new to homeschooling, that there are in fact still people out there asking that obnoxious (and intrusive) question.  I belong to a discussion group at BlogFrog called the “Hip Homeschool Moms.”  Recently a conversation was started by a homeschooling mom who was very distressed at comments she had received from other parents while on a trip to the park with her kids.  And I have to ask it again, “What makes people think they have the right to question a parent’s decision to homeschool?!”

In my post titled “The Myth of the Patient Home Schooler” I made a reference to “The Bitter Home Schooler’s Wish List,”- a thoroughly entertaining satire that any homeschooler can appreciate.  In today’s post I again have to give props to the “the list” which was written by homeschool mom Deborah Markus.  In Wish #2 Markus offers a suggestion to all those interfering souls who bring up the socialization question:

“Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.”

For the purpose of this post I’d like to enlarge on those definitions a little.  For one thing, while socializing can be for “fun” – whether that means a weekly get-together with friends for coffee or re-connecting with someone you haven’t seen in years – it also serves a function in business.  It might mean networking at a conference or discussing the details of a business deal over a game of golf but regardless, it’s still a form of socializing.

Socialization, on the other hand, is what makes proper socializing possible.

Socialization is actually one of the most important aspects of parenting and, moreover, I would contend that it is the parent’s obligation and no one else’s.

I’d like to point out here that the “myth of socialization” is a two-sided coin.  On the one side, you have the argument that it is the government school’s role to provide socialization for children and that the government schools are actually doing a good job of this, an idea that is patently false.  On the other side of that coin you have the likewise patently false notion, in fact the absurd notion, that homeschoolers cannot and are not adequately socializing their children.

Before I discuss those equally ridiculous beliefs further, I’d like to express what I believe are some of the things parents should be doing to properly socialize their children:

  • Children need to be taught manners.  They need to learn to not only say “please” and “thank you” but also to speak to adults without mumbling and shuffling around while they stare at their feet.
  • Children need to be taught to show appreciation through expressions of thanks for daily blessings, such as mom fixing dinner for the family, as well as for less frequent blessings, such as the receiving of birthday gifts.  (My children, from a young age, are taught to write thank-you notes to grandparents, etc. for birthday and other gifts.  It boggles my mind how few parents teach their kids this simple lesson in gratitude.)
  • Children need to learn that as part of a family they are expected to share in the chores that are part of family life.  In addition, when they are out in public they do not “disturb the peace” or make messes for others to clean up.
  • Children should be taught to show respect for their elders and concern, compassion, and patience for those that are younger or less fortunate than they are.
  • For Christian families, such as my own, there are additional lessons in socialization: learning to share of their substance with the needy; honoring the Lord through obeying his Word; and having a concern for the persecuted and those in our society whose lives are considered of less worth such as the unborn or the elderly.  Moreover, given the sad state of our sex-saturated/obsessed society, Christian families need to address the proper interactions of girls and boys, men and women.  Our sons need to be taught that until they put a ring on a girl’s finger and say “I do” they need to keep their hands to themselves and their thing in their pants.  Our daughters need to be taught that until a man puts a ring on their finger and says “I do” they need to keep their clothes on and their legs closed.

Proper socialization doesn’t just happen and moreover, it doesn’t just happen in a vacuum.  In other words, there are plenty of influences trying to undo the important lessons you are teaching your children about how they should interact with and treat other people.

In addition, in regards to the public school system, the religion of the government schools (humanism) not only doesn’t get it done in regards to proper socialization – it actually teaches negative socialization.  And the National Education Association – the most powerful union in our nation today – actually endorses and promotes some of the worst of this negative socialization.  But more on that in a minute.

There are so many examples of how the public schools’ version of socialization negatively impacts kids.  Yet parents never seem to connect the dots.  I strongly suggest, if you haven’t already, that you take the time to read Homeschooling: The Right Choice by Chris Klicka.  It details how the appalling condition of our public schools is by no means a result of chance or even simply good intentions gone awry.  This mess was purely by design.  If you don’t believe me, read the book.  It’s quite enlightening.

I want to offer a couple of examples of the types of negative socialization that are taking place in our schools that I’m guessing you haven’t heard about.  These examples are not even the tip of the iceberg but if these cases don’t give parents pause about sending their kids to public school, I don’t know what will.

In 1992 a public high school in Massachusetts hosted a mandatory school-wide assembly to supposedly instruct kids on AIDS awareness.  It was an extremely explicit sex education workshop that included “audience participation.”  The description of what went on in that assembly is utterly and thoroughly disgusting.  Keep in mind that, again, this assembly was mandatory.  What that means is that there was no opt-out and, in fact, parents weren’t even informed that this assembly was going to take place.  After hearing from their kids about the content matter of the assembly after the fact, some parents sued but were told by the court that they have no say at all in what their kids are exposed to at school.  In fact, in another case, a father was arrested for simply requesting to speak to an official at a school about sexually explicit materials that were being taught to kindergartners and first-graders.

In other words, you as a parent have no right to tell a public school teacher or principal that you don’t want your child exposed to explicit sexual material, no matter what their age.

In another even more disturbing development, a public school teacher in California was suspended (with pay) after two second-graders (that’s seven-year olds) were discovered performing a sex act on one another in their classroom.

Let that one sink in for a moment.

I have a few things to say about that incident and because I believe these points are very important I hope you are paying attention.  I realize it may take a few moments for the shock to wear off (though frankly, I heard about this incident weeks ago and I don’t think the shock has worn off yet).  So take a few deep breaths, then read on:

  • The first point I want to make about this horrific situation is to note that the teacher in question was suspended with pay.  With pay???  Unbelievable.
  • My second point is that I’m going to bet you didn’t see this on your nightly news shows or an episode of “Sixty Minutes.”  And my guess is most parents don’t spend much time searching the “Huffington Post” trying to find out if there have been seven-year olds performing sex acts in school.  In fact, the only reason I heard about this case is because I listen (unapologetically) to conservative talk radio.  The network and cable news shows are, without a doubt, in bed with (no pun intended) the National Education Association.  If you want to know the truth about our public school system you are going to have to search for it.  My weapon of choice is conservative talk radio and my favorite talker is, by far, Mark Levin.  I encourage you to give him a listen.
  • My third and final point is crucial.  If you take nothing else away from this post it may be the most important point of all.  I want to ask you a question:  How many parents whose children attend that school do you think said, after hearing of this situation, “I just knew something like this was going to happen sooner or later!”  The truth is, parents never say that.  Every time some horrible situation is exposed in a school or some terrible event happens parents are always shocked.  And that is exactly the point.

Parents are perpetually shocked, confused, bewildered and befuddled that anything so terrible could have happened at their child’s school because parents are completely, utterly, and thoroughly clueless about what goes on in their child’s school and classroom.  I don’t care how many hours a parent spends volunteering or going to parent/teacher conferences – unless they are spending every second of every minute by their child’s side they are clueless.

My final point in this post is one that really warrants billboards across this country.  I think it’s important for parents to understand that situations like the one in which two seven-year olds performed sex acts on one another in a public school classroom are not something the teachers’ union has a problem with.

In fact, the National Education Association wants little children to be taught about masturbation, orgasms, oral sex and every deviant sexual expression you can imagine.  They’ve said so themselves.  If you do nothing else, please take a moment to read that link.  Again, the NEA has said themselves that they want explicit, disgusting and degrading sexual content taught to little children.  And please note that the official quoted in that link specifically says that children should not be able to opt-out of the NEA’s particular brand of “education.”  In other words, as far as the National Education Association is concerned you, as the parent, should have no say as to what your child is taught regardless of whether it contradicts your beliefs, is harmful or is just plain disgusting.  Tough luck parents.

So the next time someone asks you, “But what about socialization?” – just send them to this post.  And don’t forget to share it with your homeschooling friends or, for that matter, anyone you think might benefit from having a little light shed on the question, or rather the “myth,” of socialization.

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  • Colette

    Well-researched and well-written. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Thanks!  (I guess my comment system IS working.)

      🙂

  • Amy

    These are a few of the reasons I took my kids out of public school. I am completely appalled after reading the article on C-fam.org you linked to. I don’t want that type of person in charge of my children’s education. Off to share this now.

    • Anonymous

      “Appalled” is the perfect word.  It is appalling to think that our tax dollars support this kind of debauchery.  I appreciate you stopping by and sharing my post!

  • Matt5verse6

    Oh…my…goodness! That was an eye full and I have to say, boy am I so thankful I am able to school my children myself! I remember all the things I learned in public school and though admittedly it was not a live demonstration in my classroom performed by peers, it was still enough to make me rethink and advocate for my young ones to do their school studies at home. The amount of time alone spent by the average child in the classroom apart from their family was troublesome to me. That much outside influence not to mention the unaddressed bullying, etc. that takes place. Anyway, thank you for your post and sharing your heart. Oh, and I do get the “socialization” question myself. When asked, I simply say, “Have you ever met my children?” Anyone who has can clearly see they are NOT at all without social skills, manners, respect, courtesy toward others, etc. Best wishes.

    • Anonymous

      What a great response to the socialization question!  Wish I had thought of that a long time ago!  I have people telling me all the time how wonderful my children are and sometimes I wonder if they think it was pre-determined at birth rather than the result of dedicated parenting (and choosing a different path – homeschooling).  I once had someone say my daughter was a “freak of nature” because at the age of 11 she could sit with a group of moms and carry on an adult-level conversation!  Yet all my kids have been, and are, comfortable interacting with adults because they haven’t spent their whole life surrounded by their peers.

      Thanks for stopping by and keep up the good work!

  • Richard Barrette

    Blanket condemnations of public schooling are as intellectually dishonest as are blanket condemnations of homeschooling.   There are very real problems within the public educational system that need to be addressed.  There are also very real success stories.   There are two concerns about education that should be at the top of every citizen’s list of concerns:  solving the problems that plague the American educational system and keeping the freedom to homeschool available to everyone.

    • Anonymous

      I think “intellectually dishonest” is rather strong.  I don’t approach this subject lightly and I have been informed of what has been going on in the public schools for decades, so I find that to be an unfair characterization.

      God has given us our children as gifts, precious gifts.  We do not have the right to disregard what is going on in the public schools because it is too “hard” to homeschool or too “time-consuming” or we “need” to have a second income.  Moreover, to take the chance of our children being exposed to the debauched behavior that is going on on a regular basis is far too much risk to take, in my opinion.  I particularly wouldn’t want my daughters in the public school system – I am personally aware of the dangers of sexual assault that are all too common.  And most young girls do not come forward with these incidents.  I think most men are woefully unaware of how many women have been at some point in their life a victim of some form of sexual assault – a topic I approach in a post that will be published in the near future.

      I would point to Chris Klicka’s book “Homeschooling: The Right Choice” for a thorough discussion of the problems inherent in the public school system.  I might just be a homeschool mom but the late Mr. Klicka’s credentials are impeccable and the pages of notes in this book attest to its thorough research.

      Finally, as long as the NEA has the kind of power that it has over the public school system, there will be little reform of any real value.

  • Anonymous

    I think “intellectually dishonest” is rather strong.  I don’t approach this subject lightly and I have been informed of what has been going on in the public schools for decades, so I find that to be an unfair characterization.

    God has given us our children as gifts, precious gifts.  We do not have the right to disregard what is going on in the public schools because it is too “hard” to homeschool or too “time-consuming” or we “need” to have a second income.  Moreover, to take the chance of our children being exposed to the debauched behavior that is going on on a regular basis is far too much risk to take, in my opinion.  I particularly wouldn’t want my daughters in the public school system – I am personally aware of the dangers of sexual assault that are all too common.  And most young girls do not come forward with these incidents.  I think most men are woefully unaware of how many women have been at some point in their life a victim of some form of sexual assault – a topic I approach in a post that will be published in the near future.

    I would point to Chris Klicka’s book “Homeschooling: The Right Choice” for a thorough discussion of the problems inherent in the public school system.  Perhaps I’m just a little homeschool mom who doesn’t warrant the same respect, but the pages of notes in this book attest to its thorough research.

    Finally, as long as the NEA has the kind of power that it has over the public school system, there will be little reform of any real value.