Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What about .... (you know the rest)

...Socialization?   The question every homeschooling parent expects -- and I expect in spades because my homeschool has only one student.   I can't help but laugh and wonder if the questioner thinks I have Schnickelfritz locked in a box in the basement and when I release him at 18 he will be babbling his own made up language like that movie Nell.   It's become such a talking-point word in the homeschool debate, but I've never actually taken the time to learn its true definition.

I first consulted my Webster's 1828 dictionary--no luck.  Of course, when this dictionary was compiled, public schools weren't the norm either.  I had to turn to a more modern source for my definition.  Here's what has to say: The process whereby a child learns to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation as well as group pressure.

I can certainly handle teaching Fritz how to get along with others here at home.  He knows how to say "please" and "Thank you" and other manners.  He is perfectly comfortable introducing himself to strangers.  He knows how to ask pertinent questions to experts we meet on field trips.  Years ago he developed the habit of holding the door open for others without being asked.  Most importantly, he knows how to see and accept everyone as individuals rather than classifying them as jocks, geeks, potheads, etc. and treating them as stereotypes. He  plays with several disabled children displaying both acceptance and patience. 

Secondly,  I'm not sure I want Fritz to behave similarly to others in the group unless I have a say in who the other group members are.  In a public school setting, the only given is that the kids will be the same age and from the same district.  There are three boys on our street that would be classmates of Fritz if he attended public school.  One is a compulsive liar--whatever you can do or whatever you have he can do it faster and better and he has three of them at home, all better than yours.  Another boy came over to play and snuck down to our chalkboard to draw a picture of himself urinating complete with a crude (and misspelled) caption.  I don't want Fritz to pick up the lying habit or the insecurities that are the root of the problem.  I certainly don't want him to seek attention with shock value or bad behavior.

Finally comes group or peer pressure.  I don't think even parents of public school students want their kids to bow to this.  "If all your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too ?"   Was there a need for "Just Say No" and "Talk with you kids about ...fill in the blank" public awareness campaigns before children began spending more time with their classmates than their families?  I want to raise a man who can think for himself, even if it means choosing the least popular answer.  "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those you enter it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." Matt 7:13-14

I go out of my way to make sure Fritz has a chance to interact with other kids -- homeschool co-ops, Royal Rangers, Upwards Basketball, Sunday school.  In each case, I am making sure the group he socializes with has a Christian worldview.  He is free to imitate the godly behavior he sees and the peer pressure should be the positive kind. 


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