30 April 2011

Why I Want to Home Educate: Socialisation

Wait a minute, home educating because of socialisation?  Isn't it usually the other way around?  It's true that many people list socialisation as a reason against educating at home, but I think there's a lot to be said for the socialisation that happens outside a traditional school structure.  The school structure is very artificial and doesn't reflect the reality of the outside world, since we're rarely, if ever, in age-segregated environments outside of school.  When educating at home, however, the children have the opportunity to be around a wide variety of people of different ages, thus learning how to handle those various social environments.  Obviously there are opportunities for this for children who are in a traditional school, too, but the opportunities are necessarily a bit more limited since so much of the day is spent at school (or commuting to and from school).

Another aspect of socialisation is the social pressures present in school.  I'd not thought about this part quite as much until reading Catholic Education: Homeward Bound - a Useful Guide to Catholic Home Schooling by Kimberley Hahn and Mary Hasson.  There were a couple of quotes that stood out to me.
Some of you entered the class shy and insecure.  You may have learned to be outgoing.  Perhaps you learned to follow the crowd in your own quiet way.  However, you may have become painfully shy, feeling more and more left out.
I was the one who was quiet and shy, and school really didn't help that much.  It wasn't until later that I became less shy.
Whatever your situation, you learned: best not to stand out - not too smart and not too dumb, not too talented and not too dull, not too talkative and not too shy.  If you did well academically, you learned to minimize or hide it - not out of sensitivity to others, trying not to be boastful or arrogant, but because it was a dreadful thing to become the one who was envied.
I can also relate to this some.  I was salutatorian in high school.  While I was always competitive academically, I was also self-conscious at times when I got better grades than friends, especially because I didn't have to work especially hard to get the good grades.  I was proud of my achievements, and yet didn't want to be singled out before the whole class (I was fine with it in academic team settings, though - yes, I'm a geek).  My overall point, though, is that I think socialisation can be handled well at home, and that there may even be an advantage at home, depending on how you home educate.

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