Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"High school kids, unsupervised, are the most feral little beasts on the planet"

Kim du Toit discusses the socialization and homeschooling question:

When we talk to people about homeschooling our kids, and are asked what we did about “socialization”, our answer is dismissive. Here’s the gist of it.

We were never interested in having our kids learning to socialize from a group of peers who were as clueless about the process as they themselves were. High school kids, unsupervised, are the most feral little beasts on the planet, and we saw no reason why we should subject our kids to that ordeal. The most common response to that statement was usually, “It makes them tougher” or “They learn how to cope with a hostile environment, like they may encounter in the adult world”......

Another response is that the kids “miss out on so much”. Yeah, Daughter really misses that experience of perpetual teasing about her weight, and the physical bullying that went along with it, coupled with sadistic gym teachers who forced her to run a mile during PE class, in the hot sun.


I'm waiting for Mr. and Mrs. du Toit's book on the subject.

Labels:

98 Comments:

Blogger Cham said...

Now running a mile in the sun is a bad thing? A) I must be out of the loop B) Perhaps I wouldn't make a very good gym teacher.

10:18 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

I have mixed feelings about socialization and home schooling. On the one hand, public schools can dangerous and harmful places. I routinely have clients from one of the Nashville High Schools that have access to a range of drugs that is staggering. Things like designer mixes of X and cocaine, or X and LSD. I routinely get 14 year olds with a drug history that takes up half a page from that high school.

On the other hand, I worry a bit about home schooled students missing the growth and stretch that comes from interactions with people of different beliefs and cultures. The worry is that the children might be too insulated.

Most of the "real" homeschooling parents I know are aware of that potential pitfall and enroll their homeschooled students in various enrichment activities. But I still worry a bit that these groups might be a tad homogeneous.

Trey

10:29 AM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger David said...

"interactions with people of different beliefs and cultures"...but the typical public high school is a very cliquish place, with students dividing themselves into distinct groups and often restricting their interactions to those within those groups.

11:19 AM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous carol said...

I think there is too much romanticism about the high school experience. Even in the 1960s I can remember classmates saying, in a disappointed tone, that "this is supposed to be the best time of our lives!" Who was telling them this? Their parents, the culture? For the best and brightest, or the kids from functional families, it could have been. But for the rest of us it was a wash.

For me, the best years came much later. There is plenty of time to catch up with the socialization. Hard academics are more difficult to make up if you plan to be an MD or scientist. Too much about the high school experience distracted from study IMO.

12:03 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too don't think running a mile in the hot sun is such a bad thing, but you could do it in homeschool too.

When parents are actually homeschooling, it can be the best education out there.

It's just a shame that there's a segment of homeschoolers, maybe the one most visible to rest of society although they are surely a tiny percentage, who claim to be homeschooling when really they are just getting around truancy laws because they are too dysfunctional to make sure the kids go to school or because they are essentially in religious cults. Again, it's a tiny fraction of homeschoolers overall, but the stories on the news tend to focus on these types.

Almost all of the homeschooled kids I've know have better social skills and mental and emotion health than the public school kids. (The lone hold out is a kid who was being homeschool because he had been expelled from public school.)

I also love homeschoolers because their time and focus matches their rhetoric.

12:25 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger br549 said...

School is where I first got my butt kicked, and first got my heart broken. In retrospect, good lessons were learned. But I would not want to repeat a single thing I experienced in school. Once was enough. That crap about whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is not always true.
I lived in a large neighborhood, and almost all my every day friends were from within that neighborhood. I did have acquaintances in high school that I rarely, if ever, saw elsewhere. Come to think of it, moving up to high school from previously neighborhood schools only, was quite a change. Empire building, jockeying for social status, khaki pants, Jantzen sweaters, penny loafers, button collar shirt and a tie, or sneakers and blue jeans. Today's conservative and liberal beginnings? Middle and high school through the 60's decade. I did not like it.

12:30 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter's homeschool experience was much less homogenous than the alternative we chose for her older siblings: private school. Certain suburban districts around us are equally homogenous. When all or most of the students live in half million dollar houses and get new mustangs or Ford F-150s for their sixteenth birthday, I don't think that the children is learning much about the real world.

Indeed, it was among the many reasons we decided to homeschool.

1:04 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Don't judge the quality of my teaching but the poor editing on the above post. Yikes!

1:05 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous President Friedman said...

Carol,

I don't think it is necessarilly romanticism. My memories or high school are as bitter as they are sweet. Best years of my life? Hardly. Some of the most important years, where I formed habits, ideas, and relationships that would effect the rest of my life? Absolutely.

I think it is valuable for soon-to-be adults to experience immersion in a community of their peers. It shouldn't overshadow their education and of course it shouldn't put them in an undue amount of physical danger. Those are issues that every parent has to weigh based on their unique situation. But if you have a reasonably responsible kid and access to a decent and comparatively "safe" school, I think most teenagers benefit more from being schooled at an educational institution (public or private) with a group of their peers, rather than at home.

Diversity, to me, is largely a red herring, at least as it is traditionally meant to be used. It isn't the interaction with different cultural and social groups that is so important and beneficial, as much as it is identifying oneself in relation to those groups. A psychologist could probably speak to it better than I, but there seems to me to be a valuable social benefit in having many different metrics present as one forms the social persona that will carry them into adulthood.

1:16 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think kids in grades six through eight are the most feral. Of course I'm a guy and it might be different for wymyn.

A mile in the sun is not necessairly excessive ... depends on temperature and humidity and the condition of the runner.
Quasimodo

1:29 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

The concept that schools are important because they "socialize" us cracks me up. That seems to suggest that before the advent of the public school system, there was no socialization?

And schools hardly represent reality. I've never found myself in a meeting of people all born the same year I was, with the same academic skills since I left school.

1:31 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High school is the best years of your life only if you are socially precocious. Having a (temporary) leg up on most of your peers is sweet for you and highly unpleasant for them. Very few socially with-it teenagers bother to refrain from hurting those of lesser savvy. Their usual reward for this powertripping is turning into Al and Peggy Bundy after graduation, when the nerds and normals catch up and surpass them who can only keep up when they have an advantage. I think I hear the sound of the world's smallest violin, too.

1:45 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

President F wrote: "A psychologist could probably speak to it better than I, but there seems to me to be a valuable social benefit in having many different metrics present as one forms the social persona that will carry them into adulthood."

I do not think that your concise statement could be improved upong by anyone. We agree.

Trey

1:50 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Let me be more specific. Most of the homeschooled children I come into contact with are from deeply religious families. Healthy, deeply religious families I might add.

My concern is that the children are perhaps a little too well insulated from the world. Learning to move through the majority culture is an important skill for people from minority cultures. I believe that this applies to spiritual culture as well.

It seems that people with less fond memories of High School than I are somewhat to totally disagreeing. So I have to admit that my concern may be a product of my own happy childhood.

Trey

1:55 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wonder why Kim is upset about his kid running out in the sunlight in PE Class. Unless the kid was sick , running outside doesnot semm to be a problem to me, even in Texas.

2:13 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tmink, I know what you mean, I think.

I used to kind of wonder what would happen to really sheltered kids the first time they had to go out into the corrupt secular world.

I used to be worried that it's be sort of like not having built up any immunities to illnesses because you were never exposed and that you'd be terribly susceptible.

But what I've seen is that by the time they enter the big, bad world, they are strong enough to handle what they are confronted with. They know themselves and who they are, and they do just fine.

3:12 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Graham Strouse said...

There's an excellent book on the importance of peer socialization amongst children. Can't remember the title. Author is Judith Miller-Harris.

I think. Anyone want to follow this up with me?

Anyway, yeah, of course kids are little barbarians. They're all ID. Love and Hate (we should tatoo these words on their knuckles, like bikers) & not much in-between.

"Lord of the Flies" was pretty accurate. Moral sense is something that is instinctive (or almost so)to some people, but acquired by most, and later in life.

Kids love and hate. They don't know much else until they learn on their own (usually the hard way) or they're taught to restrain their beastly instincts.

The ones who fail usually become high government officials.

-Graham

3:15 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Graham Strouse said...

Cham--

I suspect you would make an excellent gym teacher.

BTW: I screwed my shoulder a few weeks ago but only after I cleared 600 on the squat for the first time at age 34. Not bad, eh?

My cartiledge-free knees managed it with a serious help from generic OTC pain-killers. Mostly, I do sumo-style dead-lifts for legs. Less destructive on the joints.

Far as forced exercise is concerned, well, I have the second-half of a job interview in a couple hours. Gotta train an 18-year-old gonna-be Marine and a 40-year-old Air Force man.

Nice they chose to give me a chance based on what I know instead of some idiot fitness credential agency.

Anyway, Cham, a mile run in the sun is something that is not necessarily good or bad--PE is not an idiot's subject, though it is mostly run by idiots.

I'll probably get myself fired for my approaches, but I tend to train (and I have informally, but effectively, for 15 years, been a gym rat for more then 20) to suit the person, the personality & the body.

Been fiddling with a rough strength program which, I think, best suits young female athletes and men in the 30ish to 50ish range. High sets, high weight, low sets & low-impact cardio.

We have similar vulnerabilties, oddly enough. Our joints. Young women need to be especially careful about over-doing cardio. It can screw them up hormonally in a huge way at the extremes & they don't have the joint and bone strength boys do.

They don't eat enough meat and they don't lift for strength enough. Protein and calcium intake is usually not adequate and all the yuppie gyms I've been in, I see girls depleting their resources to stay boyishly thin on stationary machines. They don't replenish and they don't hit the weights as hard as they should and can.

A girl a wanted to marry ended up a suicide because her body was so broken this way. And she had figured out what was happening--she was a grad student at Penn. It's just that she needed to know this stuff when she was 11. She killed herself at age 24.

I hope I get a chance to try this approach at the gym. I just don't like people suffering because they have an image, an unrealistic image, that they feel they have to maintain.

Off-topic, but, as Molly Ivins would say:

Plangent.

3:40 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Graham,

Are you talking about Judith Rich Harris's book called "The Nurture Assumption?" It is indeed a very good book on the perils of the socialization of children by their peers. I did a post on the book at:

http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2006/02/nurture-assumption.html

4:14 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Tigger said...

Question: Can a homeschooled child (of high school age) still participate on the high school athletics teams?

I'm curious because I had no real love of high school itself but got a ton out of the sports I played and the freindships I made on those teams. I'd say the sense of socialization and community spirit was much more prevelant on my teams than in my school.

Indeed, even after the age of 30 most of my closest friends are still the guys I played football or lacrosse with in high school.

Puking together at a 5:30am practice does wonders for building lasting bonds.

So does a home schooled child have the ability to play on those teams? Because if that is the case then I'd say that would certainly qualify as 'immersion in a community of their peers' on a daily basis while still allowing them to be schooled as their parents choose.

Is that possible? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? (sorry, couldn't help myself)

4:18 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't learn a single socialization lesson in High School. It was the worst period of my life. My socialization came from observing gentlemen in action, reading the classics and above all being taught by Dad. Learning social skills in High School is nuts.

4:23 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham-

You are so right concering women and training. They are seriously shortchanging themselves. I have been a gym rat for 27 years and it seems that anytime women see a weight room they head in the other direction.

4:28 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer about the home school kids and sports is "it depends." I think a lot of states have laws that allow for it, but the local districts often don't let it happen.

This may sound a little nutty, but I think that the sincere reason that participation is limited is that some states are afraid that it will undermine the minimum academic standards for eligibility. (I know it's crazy because for families that are actually homeschooling, the academic standards are higher.)

But if a kid who can't pass the number of classes in regular school had the option of claiming he was being homeschooled and staying eligible, it would be ripe for exploitation.

6:45 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Every single home schooled kid I have met was miles ahead of his "socialized" peers in comportment and maturity as well as being extremely well rounded and better educated.

Public school retards social growth and maturity with a youth culture focused on Beavis and Butthead style humor, glorifying the ghetto and its criminal class and the "raunch" culture of the hook up. I see it all the time with the slobs that enlist in the Army having to be taught how to dress like adults instead of baggypants falling down, hat on sideways hiphop clowns.

7:28 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Friend of USA said...

As we are talking about kids and education, can I recommend this story I found at Cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot. com

Here's the first few words,

OC's Tustin school district has been sued by the ACLU for letting only smart kids into its gifted student program...

8:00 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

Sorry to take this off topic slightly...

Graham:

Actually I just finished up 2 hours at the gym, I didn't run a mile in the sun because the sun went down but I did run 2 out of 3 miles at 25% grade, the last mile was spent running to and from the gym in the big bad evil city where all the feminists and demlibs live.

600 pound squats, was that freestanding or on the machine? Either way I am impressed. You and I both know many of those trainer certifications aren't worth the paper they are printed on, mostly useless. I bet you'll make a great trainer and probably know more than most. I am concerned about your taking even OTC painkillers while training.

You are concerned about young women overdoing cardio and undereating? Um, you should see the gang at my gym, if some of them turn sideways they disappear. The do love their ellipiticals though, hours and hours and hours. But please don't ask the girls to hit the weights, the weight room is crowded enough without the stick-girls in there, I like my quiet time with the boys.

My gym has approached me about becoming a PT, but I don't have as much patience as you. I hope the training goes well, the marine will certainly give you some feedback.

I'd write more but the shirt I am wearing is way too tight around my bicep and it hurts when I type.

8:23 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

Where I live homeschooled kids can't participate in sports (or any other programs) in the public schools, but there are plenty of city leagues and other non-school-related sports opportunities, as well as some private schools that will open up their offerings to homeschooled students. In bigger cities, homeschoolers have their own sports, and believe me, if your homeschool group is big enough for that then it isn't a homogenous group. Ours is far from homogenous, and we have a relatively small group. My kids play with Buddhists, atheists, and the non-religious. They play with middle class, lower middle class, and food-stamp-poor kids at our homeschool park days.

11:18 PM, February 21, 2007  
Blogger DRJ said...

I really like the du Toits, especially their views on packing heat. I think they live in Texas so they know about that kind of heat, too. I say more power to 'em.

12:18 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger misterniceguy1960 said...

Learning social skills by associating with high school students makes as much sense as lelarning table manners in the school cafeteria.

Or learning healthy eating habits in the school cafeteria, for that matter.

But I don't think high-school age children should be home-schooled, either. The community colleges of the USA are everything high school ought to have been.

4:42 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger titurator veritatis said...

I don't dismiss the comments listed here but I think the subject of home-schooling needs to be defended before it is removed as an option. The discussion of 'socialization' is a canard, a term meant to undermine a viable natural law option for any parent. The state, through the peer pressure of plurality and the law of consensus, is seeking to remove the rights of the people---and that is not a Leftist/conspiratorial rant. Read this article and know that perhaps soon, it will be on our doorstep.

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/feb/07022002.html

6:48 AM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"iwonder why Kim is upset about his kid running out in the sunlight in PE Class. Unless the kid was sick , running outside doesnot semm to be a problem to me, even in Texas."

If (as I suspect) the children are being forced to do it without preparatory training and at the beginning of the school year in +100 degree heat, it's an excellent recipe for heat stroke, especially if it's at the end of an hour of heavy exercise outside.

8:39 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger knoxwhirled said...

I would certainly agree that "socialization" as in manners and good behavior is not learned from teenagers (stomping foot, cranky-old-man-style). And high school is obviously not a necessary life experience. If there's a question of your children getting a good education, or being in danger at a public school, then homeschooling is the obvious solution.

At the same time, I think sometimes homeschoolers try to convince people that absolutely every experience in the classroom or school system is either disposable or replaceable. That's simply not true. I didn't know any homeschoolers as a kid, but when I think of friends I had in college who lived off campus, or with their parents, they had a much more limited experience than I did. Was some of my experience drunken debauchery? Yes, but some of it was really great too.

I am not against homeschooling at all; in fact, I might very well be facing it, depending on our financial situation in about 4 years. But I wouldn't fool myself that my kid is missing out on some things if I do, good as well as bad.

9:32 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger dadvocate said...

Our kids are as comfortable in the presence of adults—sometimes, more so—as they are with their peers, and everyone who meets them compliments us on their conversational skills, manners and social graces. This did not occur by accident. It took years of daily reinforcement and hard work to get them there, and we’re still busy at it.

This describes my kids as well and they weren't homeschooled. Although, I didn't think it took hard work to teach my kids manners, but definitely daily reinforcement. Plus, I've met some pretty obnoxious homeschooled on occasion.

Most of the other stuff Kim mentions is true for my kids as well. Helping relatives with farm work has definitely instilled good work habits (and helping motivate academic acheivement so as not to be stuck in a world of heavy manual labor).

We are lucky that our schools are quite strict with dress and behavior. But, overall parenting is what makes the difference, not the school. I think being in school has gotten my children to excel in many areas that they otherwise wouldn't have. They work hard to be tops in their class at many things and succeed often enough to make their efforts worthwhile.

10:09 AM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

From reading some of the posts it seems like homeschool supporters are not very critical of homeschooling, or even very open to questions about the possible down sides of homeschooling.

This is unfortunate and unhealthy! Proper critical evaluation is the first step is growth and improvement. It is important to remember that questions are not the same thing as attacks, and that no system is perfect.

Just my thoughts.

Trey

10:39 AM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

OK, it should read "is the first step IN."

Trey (who was not homeschooled!)

10:41 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Bill Dalasio said...

Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm inclined to suspect that there's more than a little self-selection bias in the people who spout the "high school is the best years of your life" canard. Of course high school students are going to hear that from adults. The adults who think that are going to be much, much, more inclined to hang around high school.

For me, high school was pretty much miserable. About the only thing that made it tolerable was a commnet from my dad ("You're just passing through."). All in all, I'd say my life since then has been steady and continuous improvement from that. To the extent that I gained social skills in my youth, it was basically from my family. High school was, if anything, an impediment to developing them.

Moreover, I think we need to bear in mind, high school is hardly a particularly good reflection of the social diversity we encounter later in life. It's an incredibly artificial environment. To the extent it's a cross-section, it's only a socio-economic cross section of a particular community. But, in later life, especially in modern America, that's hardly the sort of cross-section that will play much of a role in most people's lives.

11:19 AM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

High school was some great years for men, many good friends, great teachers, wonderful experiences. It isn't bad for everybody.

1:41 PM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger TeeKay said...

I would love to protect my daughters against the cruelty of their peers as well. Unfortunately they will grow up and have to live in the real world and what a shock that will be if they haven't already had to deal with the feral peers of their school days.

2:06 PM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Teekay,

Do you really think it is so good to face negative peers in school to prepare oneself for the "shock" of the real world? Many young people I have treated have been horribly abused by their peers, and the abuse seemed to do them no good at all. Sure, it would be great if everyone could rise out of adversity and be the better for it, but for those with a fragile emotional state or those who have no other support, childhood and adolescent filled days of peer abuse often cause scars that last a lifetime. I remember reading that even men in their sixties still felt the pain of being called names and being made fun of in school. And can you honestly say that the real world of work is one where name calling, abuse, and bullying are tolerated? Most people do not tolerate that for a minute and one can always change jobs, often kids have no such choice.

3:05 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous CT said...

I have never met anyone in the real world who is more feral than in high school. High school was far worse for me than the real world ever has been. I'm sorry, I can't buy the idea that some how getting your butt kicked for your lunch money or being publicly humiliated by some barbarian high school student will "prepare" you for the real world.

If the ferals from high school tried the same stunts in the real world they could be sued if not out right arrested. High school does not represent the real world, not even slightly.

4:31 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the life I have now, and I certainly didn't enjoy high school that much. But, man, college was a sweet gig that I didn't appreciate at the time.

I had almost no responsibilities; my parents were generous with money; I was surrounded by smart people for the most part: I had seemingly limitless energy compared to today and a ton of desirable social opportunities.

Again, I'm not saying that my life now isn't better, but compared to high school, college rocked!

4:52 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key difference, I think, between High School and The Real World (tm) was in Kim's original post, where he pointed out that you CAN'T leave High School. If I'm being tormented today, or treated as an outsider, I have the option of walking away. I can persue a new job, or sue somebody. In High School, it's AGAINST THE LAW to remove yourself from an abusive situation, about which the authorities will do nothing.

5:01 PM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

Oh, homeschoolers do think critically about homeschooling. It's not that we think every homeschool situation is ideal, or that we don't recognize that there are trade-offs when you choose homeschooling instead of another schooling option. But there's plenty of criticism of homeschooling out there and precious little defense of it, so we usually take on the defender role in public forums.

5:54 PM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

And Trey, just because we don't find your particular criticisms of homeschooling to have merit doesn't mean we are not thinking critically about homeschooling.

If socialization is one of the important goals of a public education, then include it on the tests required for graduation and evaluate schools on their performance in this area.

9:17 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy,

I hear the socialization argument a lot of time from other parents. Do you think they are just trying to justify leaving their kids in regular school?

When you hear people talking about school choice and vouchers, what's your response? If vouchers come about, will you expect them for your kids to be homeschooled?

9:33 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous D.Reid said...

Helen, Sorry to hear about your Mom's fall. Hope her leg mends quickly.

10:40 PM, February 22, 2007  
Blogger Andrew said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's injury! I'll be keeping her and you in my prayers. Hope it heals well and quickly!

11:00 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous 4:52

That was my experience as well, and so far two of my children have found it to be true: college is much better than high school.

The adults I know for whom high school was the best time of their lives,for the most part, weren't all that successful in transitioning to the real world after high school. Many of them devote themselves now to reliving those glory days through their kids. It's kind of pathetic.

12:29 AM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children become socialized by associating with adults. They learn adult behavior from adults.

3:22 AM, February 23, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Andrew and D. Reid,

Thanks for your kind comments about my mother, I was thinking you had some kind of ESP but I see that my husband has posted about it.

6:51 AM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous CT said...

Anon 4:52: "The adults I know for whom high school was the best time of their lives,for the most part, weren't all that successful in transitioning to the real world after high school."

There were two bullies in my high school class that came to mind when you said this. One of them went on to become a high school coach. The other became a high school teacher (English, if I recall correctly). Socially, they got a long with a lot of people in high school. I suppose that's why they went back to high school when they became adults. It may be why teachers do so little about high school bullying. They had such a great time in high school they figure it's part of the growing process--getting beat up for lunch money, getting publicly ridiculed, and so forth.

9:52 AM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen- There is an aspect of Harris' book that I don't think you have emphasized sufficiently. She talks about not just the importance of socialization, but its inevitability. Du Tiot seems to think he can avoid the process altogether - that he hasn't simply gotten his daughter away from one peer group, but all peer groups. Harris' thesis is that this is impossible - that all children see a wider world outside of the family and pick up cues from the peers they meet from that world on how to act in it. And these lessons are the ones that will affect their behavior once they leave the family (with the impact of the parents upbringing being essentially zero). I think du Toit has done the right thing in taking his daughter away from what he feels was a harmful peer group, but he needs to observe her current peer interactions more closely since they have the potential to be the determining factors in her future behavior.

Bob R

10:55 AM, February 23, 2007  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Okay, let me answer a whole bunch of comments in this one.

1. For those who think running a mile in the hot sun is no big deal, try it while carrying a 50lb bag of sand on your back. That's what overweight people have to endure. Daughter fell ill from heatstroke three times.

2. For all those who think that high-school socialization is a good thing, I wish I could take you back in time to when I watched Daughter standing at the bus stop, sobbing bitterly at the thought of the day's ordeal to come. I'm still tormented that we subjected her to that for two YEARS before we woke up and pulled her out. Not everyone is a Tough Guy: sensitive, vulnerable children face an appalling risk in today's high school environment, when bullies are seldom if ever punished. When we finally got Daughter's chief bully in the principal's office (after THREE complaints), we were told that we were overreacting. The thing was being treated like some California encounter group rather than a disciplinary action.

3. And speaking of time, all this "homogeneity" talk is just specious bullshit. Kids make friends anyway, in their neighborhood, among other kids who share their interests, and in structured environments like the Boy Scouts. Here's a clue for the Clueless: we are not a melting pot, except by choice. People will naturally self-select their friends and acquaintances who reflect their own interests, commonalities and geography. At least, that's the case in the real world, just not in the ivory tower or among people who've drunk the multi-culti Kool-Aid.

Kids who make friends easily don't need to do it in high school; and kids who can't make friends easily are best kept out of high school.

Daughter ate alone in the school cafeteria for a whole year. Now she has a slew of friends from all over the place, goes to movies, parties and so on. The only time this ever happened in high school was with neighborhood kids (none of whom were in her high school; all were in private schools).

Finally, let me add one thing (sorry about the length of the post, Helen).

We do not live in a village anymore. The Internet, for all its faults and potential dangers, gives kids a priceless chance to interact with other kids -- other kids whom they choose to associate with.

By the way: Daughter is a college freshman (I know, the shame is more than I can bear); Son&Heir just got his Eagle Scout; and #2 Son, who is autistic, just won a prize in a national competition for computer game critique. (At 16, he writes at post-grad level.)

I don't know how my kids would have turned out had we left them in public school. What I know is that they would not be the same as they are now, and would in all probability have been a lot worse off, emotionally and psychologically.

A parent can ask for no better result.

11:58 AM, February 23, 2007  
Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

Not to pile it on, but let me chime in on the "public debate" of homeschooling:

NO!

This is not a matter up for discussion. I have a right to educate my child myself. PERIOD.

You have no right to intrude on my right to educate my children as I see fit, just as I have no right to interfere with your choice nursery rhymes, what diapers you choose, or what brand of shoe you buy. That's YOUR business.

We can discuss homeschooling from the perspective of its benefits to YOU or not, but you don't get to decide for others if it is something they MAY do.

That's the problem. People keep trying to turn this into a public debate because they think they have a right to intrude into the affairs of others. You don't.

As long as I am educating my child and not abusing them, no one has any right to interfere.

Homeschoolers are more than willing to discuss the methods they use (what works and what may not work), but as to whether or not homeschooling is a right or should be banned is OFF the table.

3:01 PM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous 1charlie2 said...

I have to side with Kim here. I may be straddling the debate here -- we scrape by with enough funds to keep our kids in private school.

I am cognizant of the pitfalls and benefits of the school environment and the home environment. That's why we chose a school with high academic enrichment and a rigid honor code.

But while I don't automatically condemn public schools, or home-schooling, I really wanted to comment on the concept of "inoculating" children by exposing them to obnoxious slobs early in life.

Preposterous.

Early in life, I was either a "sensitive soul" or a "wuss," depending on your point of view.

Enduring taunts and abuse in school (nothing too serious) did nothing to "toughen me up." All it did was to make me miserable. I endured, but it didn't get any easier.

After HS, I joined the military, and wound up getting more "abuse" than I'd ever had in high school. While basic training was not terribly difficult, there are other types of training that get much more rigorous, demanding, and, well, "mean."

But -- and it's a big "but," the "abuse" from this sort of training was not capricious, not personal, and not unwarranted.

That form of 'abuse' genuinely toughens an individual, pushing the limits of what they believe they can do, forcing them to go beyond those limits. What emerges is someone who doesn't have to be told s/he is worthwhile, they have already demonstrated it. It's a form of coaching I never had in high school.

When I left the military a few years later, and went to college, I was not the "sensitive soul" I'd once been. Without, I hope, being obnoxious, I was no longer able to be bullied, even by professors. While I still have a lot to learn, I don't have too much left to prove.

Show me a peer group in any high school in America that practices that form of coaching, and I'll buy into the "inoculation" idea.

Certainly, it would work if properly administered. But high-school students are not the ones to do it.

If anyone still thinks it's a good idea, why don't we institutionalize hazing ? That's got to be inoculating.

There are a lot of good reasons to home-school (depending on the parents). There are a lot of good reasons to choose a public school (depending on the parents and the teachers). But exposing your children to abuse at the hands of other students, while perhaps inevitable, is not a good reason.

3:06 PM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Kathy wrote: "And Trey, just because we don't find your particular criticisms of homeschooling to have merit doesn't mean we are not thinking critically about homeschooling."

Well said, point taken!

"If socialization is one of the important goals of a public education, then include it on the tests required for graduation and evaluate schools on their performance in this area."

Honestly, I think the public school system is mentally ill. If one kid starts a fight and the other defends herself, they suspend them both! If a child brings a nail file to class, they suspend them and call it a weapon. Children are suspended for bring an aspirin to school. It boggles the mind.

So I have no trust or faith in the public school system, and I do not expect them to be able to recognize what makes an educated, healthy student. I am in favor of home and private education as well as school choice and vouchers. Monopolies lead to poor performance and lackluster achievement due to a lack of competition.

But I sitll have some nagging concerns about homeschooling. They do not disqualify the system or approach, they are just possible pitfalls.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so effectively.

Trey

3:18 PM, February 23, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Hey there, I am addressing Mr. and MS. du Toit.

It appears that you two have been harrassed and shamed about your decision to home school your child(ren.) I did not read anyone doing that here, with the possible exception (possible) of the person that did not understand about running in the hot sun. Yet you both posted very impassioned, angry, and defensive posts.

My questions were not specious bullshit, they were questions! I wanted to know people's thoughts on them so I could continue to think about it with the benefit of other people's experience and opinion. You both lost your lunch over simple, well meant (at least in my case) QUESTIONS! There were no accusations, nobody said that it was not your right to homeschool, none of this happened.

So why are you so upset? For the record, I think it is GREAT that you homeschool. My wife and I are considering it for our children as well. So again, I do not understand why you felt so threatened by neutral questions.

See, this is a public blog and we are discussing the concept of homeschooling. We are not discussing you or your child. That is not my business, aside from offering help and support to my neighbor etc.

So why the anger? And does it have anything to do with us?

Trey, again asking questions

3:29 PM, February 23, 2007  
Blogger DRJ said...

Trey @ 3:29,

I did not read Kim du Toit's comments as angry or defensive, and I certainly don't think the du Toits sound "shamed." Are you reading something into this that isn't there? In any event, assuming there was a defensive tone, it could be because of comments like this:

"This is unfortunate and unhealthy! Proper critical evaluation is the first step is growth and improvement. It is important to remember that questions are not the same thing as attacks, and that no system is perfect."

If you don't recognize it, that's your comment from 10:39 AM yesterday. The first sentence doesn't sound helpful to me, although I agree with your second sentence. Maybe you should take your own advice and take a moment to question your own choices since no system is perfect.

4:10 PM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Thanks Dr. J. Well written and good advice. But as I re-read their posts, they still seem awful defensive to me. The caps in Ms. du Toit's post, the specious bullshit comment, here's a clue for the clueless in Mr. du Toits.

Still, I respect what you wrote, and will sleep on it to see if it looks as if I misread or overreacted to having my question called bullshit. Fallible is my middle name you know!

Thanks for taking the time to give me some feedback.

Trey

12:30 AM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Actually, I think I found my answer! I read the du Toit's post that is linked at the bottom of Helen's. "Socialization" is a word bandied about by home school critics. The only problem is, I am not a home school critic! But because I used that word, I was assumed to be.

My question may have been naive (that is why I asked it,) it may have been tiresome (sorry, it was my first time to ask it,) but it was not specious bullshit. Asking if homeschoolers have to clean the chalkboard would be specious.

Another question that I hazard to ask (it is good to have a thick skin) is how do homeschoolers compensate for not having opportunities to learn from many different teachers with different teaching styles? If my wife and I homeschool, out children would only have to learn to adapt to our teaching style. You know, the specious bullshit style (sorry but I have grown to love that phrase!) What about the challenges that the traditionally educated face of learning in SPITE of teachers instead of because of them.

I submit that it is an important skill to be able to do so.

Also, what if the KKK starts a homeschool?

Again, I am asking questions, and I hope I can be forgiven for the problems with my tone and given a reasonable answer or three.

Trey (donning his asbestos glasses)

1:06 AM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another question that I hazard to ask (it is good to have a thick skin) is how do homeschoolers compensate for not having opportunities to learn from many different teachers with different teaching styles? If my wife and I homeschool, out children would only have to learn to adapt to our teaching style.

It's funny you bring that up. A lot of parents bring their children home because their child's learning style doesn't fit the teacher's teaching style. Parents know their children better than anyone and can teach to their children's strengths. A teacher simply cannot do this when faced with a class full of different kids.

What about the challenges that the traditionally educated face of learning in SPITE of teachers instead of because of them.

I don't understand this question. Could you rephrase?

Also, what if the KKK starts a homeschool?

What if they do? Those parents have the right to educate their children in any way they choose.

Amy K.

2:51 AM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Sorry for the poor phrasing Amy. One of the things that made me a better learner was having to learn from teachers with different teaching styles. I had to learn to adapt, there was some struggle, but out of the struggle came strength. Something good comes out of learning to adapt to several different teaching styles. I agree that a teacher cannot adapt to every student, but students gain strength in learning to adapt to different teachers! How does homeschooling help students learn to adapt to different teachers?

And I am not so cavalier as you about the KKK home school. That concerns me. Also, what about parents with mental illness teaching homeschool? I worry that would compromise the student's education.

With private school education, there is some accountability. What kind of accountability is there in homeschooling? Now I am not talking about wonderful, healthy people who choose to homeschool. I am talking about ill, incompetent, or venal people who choose to homeschool.

And please understand that these are questions from a supportive person who is asking critical questions. That gets missed on occasion.

Trey

9:57 AM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

On more quick thing. I asked my wife to read the du Toit's posts to check for the defensiveness level. (For the record she thought Mr. was only defensive on point three and Ms. was defensive throughout.) Whan I asked her to check for me, she asked what the posts were about. "Homeschooling" I replied.

She rolled her eyes and began to laugh. "You don't know that 50% of the homeschoolers are quite defensive because they are routinely attacked as ruining their kids."

She was right, I did not know that you brave folks were routinely attacked. That is certainly not cool. But I am not attacking, I am asking and looking for answers. Good answers that address the questions preferably.

Trey

10:09 AM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

Hi Trey,

Let me see if I can give you any useful answers. Per the subject of different learning styles, as an adult, do you learn from teachers or do you learn on your own? Generally speaking, we learn on our own. That's what I am teaching my children to do, albeit with plenty of help from me along the way until they're big enough to fly solo. When they go to college, if they know how to learn on their own they'll be able to adapt to whatever teacher they happen to have. Homeschooled students typically do quite well in college, so it must be working! I don't see hordes of students emerging from the public schools having learned to adapt to different teaching styles. Some probably do, but most seem to have learned how to avoid learning and instead fake it, which can be a useful life school but is not one of my educational goals for my children. lol (And I did teach high school English for two years, and my mom is a high school counselor right now, so I have some more current experience in addition to my own high school years.)

As for the KKK, frankly I'm not bothered if they homeschool or not because I haven't seen public schools do a great job of taking kids and turning them to a different ideology when they're getting one strongly at home, particularly an ideology like that where they're likely to find allies among their peers at school.

Where I live, by the way, private schools have no accountability either. In fact, homeschools are considered private schools, and because of that they cannot be monitored or regulated in any way. While I am certain there are many situations both in private schools and homeschools of which I would not approve, I also believe it is not my business unlesss abuse is occurring. In addition, I am aware of circumstances in the public schools of which I do not approve, and yet I have no recourse to change those because not enough other parents care or find those situations objectionable.

Homeschoolers do get attacked quite a bit, mostly by people who haven't done their research and imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios. I know pretty well several dozen homeschooling families, from a wide variety of backgrounds and reasons for homeschooling, and even though I don't always agree with the way they choose to school (I'm pretty opinionated), I can't think of one where the children seem any worse off than they'd be in public school.

2:45 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

Ooops! Should have said "life skill" instead of "life school". I knew I should have proofread that before I submitted it!

2:46 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

Trey, since it's probably just you and me chatting now, here's some more info for you.

When you think about homeschooling, it's important to first look at the various approaches that are available and decide which seems like the best fit. And you can't do that too early. Lots of people wait until their first child is entering kindergarten or first grade and then scramble to choose a curriculum. Before you can choose a curriculum, you need to choose a philosophy, and the earlier you do that, the better since there may be prep work to do before you start formal schooling.

For instance, my dh and I started thinking about homeschooling when my oldest was about 2. We looked at the classical approach, but then we found the Charlotte Mason approach and knew it was the right one for us. We then found a curriculum that follows that approach (after examing multiple choices). Now, knowing what approach we are using and what curriculum we will follow, we have had several years to work on learning that philosophy and applying it in our home, which will make first grade next year so much easier than it is for parents who are just jumping in now.

Homeschooling isn't just "doing school" at home. You can do that, and there are quite a few private school curricula available for home use--Abeka is popular among Christian homeschoolers as well as Christian private schools. You can unschool, which means different things to different people but basically is schooling by not schooling, just encouraging learning through pursuing interests. You can do classical, which is extremely rigorous and emphasises memorization in the early years and analysis later. There are homeschoolers that exclusively use 19th century one-room schoolhouse materials (we're going to use a math curriculum from that era ourselves). There's the Charlotte Mason approach, which is frequently confused with either unschooling or classical. That's funny, because unschooling and classical are on different ends of the spectrum, so the confusion shows that most people just don't know anything about that method. And there are others as well, including eclectic, which just sort of picks and chooses among the curriculum offerings.

And within each method there are lots of choices to be made as far as the curricula to use. So you see, if you don't think through the philosophy first, you can easily get overwhelmed at the curriculum choices as well as very likely find you have selected a curriculum that doesn't fit your family which can be a very expensive mistake.

3:41 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Hey Kathy, I sure agree about the being overwhelmed with choices when you look for a curriculum. As far as public school goes, I think the system is largely broken. My eldest daughter goes to a decent school, but they are SO pc it is a bit maddening for me and sometimes difficult for her as well.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. They gave me interesting things to think about on this rainy Nashville day.

Trey

4:05 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:18 PM, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

The KKK can (and probably does) home school, just as they can organize private, secular or religious schools. There is nothing in the law that would prevent that, anymore than there are laws that would prevent someone from opening a Humanist, Mother Gaia, or Liberty school, or using those beliefs/opinions to shape their homeschool.

Homeschooling has everything and nothing to do with that. It is going to be chosen by people who align with all of those groups, and others.

More importantly, however, is that while despicable (from my point of view), the KKK has just as much right to exercise free speech, free expression, and freedom of conscience as anyone who doesn't offend us.

But think through the real question behind that question: What do we do, as a society, when children are taught (by their parents or anyone else) things we find deplorable? Have we surrendered the right of having horrid opinions? I certainly hope not. While it would be nice if we all woke up tomorrow and agreed on everything, we're still evenly divided on matters of politics and what society should look like. We've don't have a consensus of opinion on ideals or morals, nor do we have a governing authority that can tell us what we MUST think and believe.

It is for these reasons (and others) that people choose to homeschool. They find some of the ideas taught in public school to be contrary to their ideals. Many homeschool for religious reasons and do not want their children to be taught things they think are wrong/sinful. They have that right. I don't have to agree with it. I only have to respect their right to do it. And their decision to homeschool, rather than fight to have their ideas taught along side contrary ones, actually makes it easier on people who want a secular-only curriculum.

Folks are always complaining that they don't want any religion/prayer to be taught in school, and tell those who do want it to "go private." Then when they do, they're told "no! you can't do THAT." Well, folks have to make up their minds!

What that tells me is that they don't REALLY want folks to "go private." What they really want is to be able to tell people they cannot raise their children with the ideals and values of their choosing.

I don't remember surrendering my right to speech, religion, or conscience to the state, and I surely hope no one else thinks that is a wise idea. Who DECIDES what is right and proper vs. what is deplorable and despicable?

So while we have great parents (with ideas and morals you support) who homeschool (or choose private schools), we also have to respect the decisions of others... even when we despise everything about them.

It sucks to live in a free country sometimes. It can allow the best and the worst, and everything in between.

4:29 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does homeschooling help students learn to adapt to different teachers?

My learning style was different from EVERY teacher I ever had. I pretty much just ignored the teachers. After about fifth grade, I learned to just ignore the teachers. What benefit did I get from public school?

And I am not so cavalier as you about the KKK home school. That concerns me.

I don't understand why. Do you think people who have KKK ideas are incapable of teaching someone how to read, write, and do math? Whether they go to school or not, the parents are instilling those ideas into their kids. If that is your beef, do you advocate taking those kids away from their parents?

Also, what about parents with mental illness teaching homeschool? I worry that would compromise the student's education.

In my high school, there were two teachers who had mental breakdowns. Who knows how long they were "off" before they finally took leave. You are dreaming if you think only sane people teach school.

Not to mention the teacher who was going though a nasty divorce and threw a radiator cap at a student who pissed her off.

Or the really great history teacher I had, the only teacher who I really connected with, who had a personality conflict with the principal and had to quit.

With private school education, there is some accountability. What kind of accountability is there in homeschooling?

Most private school accountability is to the parents. So is homeschooling.

Now I am not talking about wonderful, healthy people who choose to homeschool. I am talking about ill, incompetent, or venal people who choose to homeschool.

No offense, but what business is it of yours if people you consider icky decide to take on their children's education? I think we are looking at this from different worldviews. You admit that public school is broken, but only superb parents should take their children out. I don't think everyone should have to homeschool, but I think everyone should be able to if they want.

Maybe some kids would be better off in public school than homeschool. Very possible. But I'd say there are many, many, many thousands more who would be better off in homeschool than public school. But that's their parents' business, not mine.

And please understand that these are questions from a supportive person who is asking critical questions. That gets missed on occasion.

They aren't missed. I think you are simply new to the homeschool idea and haven't come across them yet. I suggest you blogroll some homeschool blogs for a few months.

Amy K.

4:58 PM, February 24, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Amy asked: "No offense, but what business is it of yours if people you consider icky decide to take on their children's education?"

No offense taken, it is an important question! It is not the math and reading I worry about, it is the hate and terrorist activities. Honestly, I cannot think of anything to do about it in our (thank God) free country, and nothing I have the stomach for. But I still worry about it! And icky does not bother me, because of my job I see children damaged by parents that you may not. Every day, dangerous, wicked people. So I am likely hyperaware of the risk, and am willing to believe that I am overreacting.

And I misspoke when I gave you the idea that only superb parents educate their children. Average parents are just fine. It is the parents who are not at all together or are dangerous people that I worry about.

And finally, I cannot get this idea across well. I had dozens of teachers, and together, they really helped me. Most were average, a few awful, and a few gifted. Homeschooled children have only one, perhaps two. In that they miss out. I accept that the advantages are many, but having only one or two teachers is not the same as having dozens. I can fondly recall teacher fron 1965 when I entered Kindergarten as well as my last professors in graduate school. My mother and father, good and healthy people both of them, could not have measured up.

Writing this I think it is the importance of non-parental adults that home schooled children may miss out on.

Thanks for your patience with me. Your thoughts are helpful.

Trey

6:19 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trey, I would say it's the very rare homeschooled student whose only adult interaction is with his parents.

Most have extracurricular activities and/or church activities as well as parents of friends, relatives, etc.

I completely understand where you're coming from, and I'm not unaware of the damage parents can do to their children. I'm just not convinced that is ameliorated to an extensive degree by public school.

You say you're worried about "hate and terrorist activities." I just don't see how public school is going to cure that. This world can be a very, very bad place. And I think it's very obvious public school hasn't changed that. It might be a safety valve for some kids. But for others, it's just one more place they're getting abuse.

Some people may have had a great school experience. I'm not a shy person. I always had friends at school. But for various reasons, it was a net negative for me. In my opinion, the people on the defensive should be the public school providers, not people who want to homeschool.

Amy K.

7:38 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to add:

In my opinion, the people on the defensive should be the public school providers, not people who want to homeschool. Because the default position is raising children is the parents' responsibility and this includes education. If they want to delegate that to the public schools, or private schools, or a tutor, then that is their right. But if they don't, it is absolutely no one else's business.

Amy K.

7:42 PM, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

My friend and sometimes tutor Amy wrote: "In my opinion, the people on the defensive should be the public school providers, not people who want to homeschool."

We are in complete agreement! I agree that public schools, or private schools are no cure for KKK homeschooling. And I certainly do not want to even think about government regulation (shudders.) So I am just left with a nagging little fear. Not about anyone on this blog fer heaven's sake!

Trey

10:13 PM, February 25, 2007  
Blogger Jim Armstrong said...

My wife and I homeschooled our daughters. The "socialization" stuff always makes me laugh. After we took them out of public school, they got involved with so many other homeschoolers, through a local co-op, a youth theater program, and several local church schools. They spent less time at home than they ever did in public school!
My own experience with the homeschoolers, totally anecdotal, is that they are better behaved, more mature, and better in social interactions than the poor ones stuck in the public schools. My daughters (20 y.o. twins) are in college, and are continually outpacing their peers.
Are there abuses of homeschooling? Definitely. They had a friend in public school whose mother decided to "homeschool" at the same time. She basically was pulled from school, and never taught anything. Just became a dropout, so I know there are parents who shouldn't do it. But I am not going to try to decide this for anyone else.
As with anything like this, your mileage may vary.

12:10 AM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Jim wrote: "The "socialization" stuff always makes me laugh. After we took them out of public school, they got involved with so many other homeschoolers, through a local co-op, a youth theater program, and several local church schools."

I am confused why the "socialization stuff" makes you laugh. You list several wonderful socialization activities that your homeschooled daughters engaged in to their obvious benefit. You clearly valued her extra-familial socialization enough to seek it and set it up for your children. So you dealt with the "socialization stuff."

Problem solved, and congratulations! But I cannot understand how you do not value someone (or me) asking the question when you valued the potential problem enough to solve it. Perhaps it was a naive question on my part, that is why I asked! But clearly lack of socialization is a potential pitfall that you succesfully dealt with. Perhaps it is an easy thing to address, but it was worth addressing for you and your daughters. So I am not sure why the question makes you laugh.

Trey

11:18 AM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:31 PM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Mrs. du Toit said...

It is because the socialization question is a red herring. It is specious nonsense.

The family structure is a social network (siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins), as are neighborhoods, places of worship, sports, and clubs (such as 4-H and Boy Scouts).

Public school, as we now know it, is a very modern invention. It only came about in the 18th century. Most children were educated at home and only the very wealthy could hire tutors or send their children to school. If children attended any school at all it was part of their place of worship.

In order to believe this socialization nonsense you have have to conclude that everyone, prior to the invention of the factory school model in 1905 (the current one) and compulsory schooling requirements (which came out in the mid 20th century), was a social misfit.

Unless a parent intentionally restricts a child from engaging in a conversation with anyone (keeps them locked in a closet), there would be no way to stop a child from engaging with others. And if a parent decided to do something awful like that, no one is going to know that child even exists, so no safety net is going to help.

It is important to understand the source of the socialization question, which is why homeschoolers get their ire up when the subject is raised.

It was an invention of the public education establishment to find SOMETHING they could say that they could do, that homeschoolers could not do. It boils down to:

"Homeschools cannot provide children with the same amount of diversity a public school can."

Well, that's the latest version. Before that they claimed that homeschooled children were not sociable. That, just like every other libelous charge against the homeschool realm, was proven false.

Every single thing they come up with to make homeschooling sound evil, or not as good as public school, has been proven false.

They're grasping at straws. The only thing they have left are things that cannot be measured. You can't measure benefits of diversity or the value of it, so it is a perfect strawman.

The reason they've gone with a non demonstrable is because they always fail at trying to show demonstrable harm to homeschooled children. Homeschooled children either out pace their public school educated peers, or they are on a par with them.

The educational establishment has nothing left in their arsenal to lob at homeschoolers, except "we have more kids than a homeschool does."

3:36 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Ms. du Toit, the only specious nonsense I have read is your and your husband's treatment of a common sense question. The socialization question did NOT come from a homeschooling critic. It came from ME. My own little noggin. I have not read or listened to anything critical of homeschooling in any way shape or form. These questions seemed obvious to me.

Your refusal or inability to see and accept this is puzzling to me. I am beginning to think that you are incapable of holding a critical thought about homeschooling at all. I think this because when I pose a question it is either answered with platitudes, or the question is attacked (specious bullshit was the particular phrase,) or it is confused with an attack and responded to with talking points that are focused on other parties and do not fit my question. I do not know who THEY are that you refer to, but you obviously cannot recognize who I am.

(These criticisms do not apply to Jim or Amy. They read, understood, and answered my questions. Again, thank you!)

This is sad to me as I would very much like to have you address MY question. But you choose or are driven to giving a well practiced speech that does not address me or my question.

So for the last time, I am homeschooling curious, I do not belong to the teacher's union, I am not championing the public schools because I think they are becoming an unmitigated disaster. My new question has nothing to do with socialization, it is this: Why can you not read and respond to a question I pose?

Trey

6:09 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Ms. du Toit. Because the world today is so much like the world of the 18th century or at least prior to 1905. Surely, no new skills are needed.

11:17 PM, February 26, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Actually, I can answer my own questions about socialization after 45 minutes on the web.

Initial results are very positive in supporting homeschooling as providing healthy socialization. Most of the negative articles I found were theoretical rather than observational and data based, while the positive articles usually had hard data. Much of the research I found was from the late 80s through the mid 90s. Odd that.

One problem with the research involves selection of the homeschooled children to study. There is likely a selection bias in that the best homeschool programs are over represented in the studies. But where would you find negligent homeschooling parents to participate in such studies? These parents are not likely to volunteer to show their negligence.

The SAT data is quite positive, as are college achievement levels. Behavioral observations have shown the HS students to be more social, have less behavioral problems, and to be more likely to invite another child to join in their play.

Of course, more research is needed, but initial research is very positive concerning socialization and homeschooling; at least model homeschooling. Homeschooling (HS) is idiosyncratic by it's very nature. The religious HS programs can differ widely from the New Age programs, which makes perfect sense.

Currently, there is a strong individualistic movement within the HS communities that eschews or is at least quite skeptical concerning too much organization and oversight. The down side of this individualism is the variability and lack of accountability of HSing. And it also leaves the HS communities more open to attack from liberal educators who fear non-secular education and world views (not to mention the loss of their jobs if they are proven largely obselete and inferior.)

My suggestion to the HS communities is to develop several research validated approaches and curriculums for HS parents to follow. This would allow for greater acceptance within the non-academic community of skeptics, while also tightening up the likely broad variation of HS implementations and effectiveness. Some regimentation, when balanced by wide diversity of choice, would provide helpful and validated guidelines for those who choose to HS as well as those who want good reasons to supprt that choice.

So the socialization question, when given a modicum of thought, actually provides a wonderful opportunity to share the positive research concerning socialization outcome research concerning HSing. Specious bullshit indeed!

Trey

1:21 AM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Jim Armstrong said...

Well, let me try to answer this. You see, when we were thinking of homeschooling, one of the questions that continually came up was "Won't the girls miss out on things?" We worried about it, as well, but we didn't actively seek out the activities. They more-or-less found us.
This is why I laugh about it. Unless you try to avoid the activities, our experience has been that the opportunities will seek you out. Again, I can't speak for anyone else, but it seems absurd now that it's ever a concern.

10:05 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Kathy said...

My suggestion to the HS communities is to develop several research validated approaches and curriculums for HS parents to follow. This would allow for greater acceptance within the non-academic community of skeptics, while also tightening up the likely broad variation of HS implementations and effectiveness.

Trey, I'm sorry to say I find your suggestion offensive, although I know you didn't mean it that way. I choose to live in a state that allows me to select my own curriculum, or make one up. I am not going to give up that freedom to make other people feel better about what I am doing. There is no federal constitutional obligation for the state to provide education or oversee it.

There are states where you can only choose from an approved curriculum, but I would never live there if I had a choice. I have selected a quality curriculum that fits my family and my children. Unless abuse is going on in my home, no one has any business deciding how I should parent or educate my children. Besides, the state hasn't done a bang-up job of selecting curricula for its own schools, so I don't really expect it to select quality curricula for my homeschool either.

The statistics are on the side of the homeschoolers. I don't have my kids in tons of activities, because I choose not to, but yet they are very well socialized, whatever that means.

I know you are sincere, Trey, but the socialization issue remains a red herring even if you thought it up yourself. It is a red herring because people have been socialized without school for as long as there have been people. Was Laura Ingalls not socialized? She went to school seldom and not at all until 7 or 8 years old, I believe. Was Abraham Lincoln not socialized? He went to school for a total of a few months over the course of many years. So what Mrs. Du Toit was saying is that the reason you even thought it might be a problem is because you have come to think of schools as the primary means of socialization, and that's because schools would like to fill that role to justify their primacy.

6:19 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, I agree totally with your comment.

I am not going to give up that freedom to make other people feel better about what I am doing. There is no federal constitutional obligation for the state to provide education or oversee it.

This is what I've been saying. It's none of anybody's business how a parent educates his child. Trying to justify your choices by appeasing someone else only leads that person to believe he has the right to interfere with your choices.

Codifying approved curricula only encourages the belief that you are going to play their game. You don't agree to rules of a game you have no intention of playing.

I agree that the "socialization question" is asked only because people have become so normalized to the idea of public education. The irony being public education as we know it is only about 100 years old.

Amy K.

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Blogger serket said...

I am a very shy person. I really liked the socialization in my high school, much better than college. I was able to meet some guys close to my age that had good moral beliefs. Do home schooled children play with kids in their neighborhood and from church? Most of the people in my neighborhood were retired. I hated gym, but the exercise is very good. We are in an obesity epidemic and need more exercise. What exercise activities are common for home schooled children? I've always wondered how kids who aren't in school during regular student hours prove to law enforcement that they are home schooled. How do you teach your children material that you don't know anything about, especially Mathematics? I think science classes helped me to understand and accept evolution.

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5:28 AM, April 14, 2009  
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1:37 AM, April 21, 2009  
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2:15 AM, June 08, 2009  

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