Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The S-Word Rears its Ugly Head

I'm beginning to think that it's not humanly possible for anyone who does not homeschool (particularly educators and journalists) to have a discussion (or write an article) about homeschooling without raising the issue of....yeah, you guessed it...socialization.  And frankly, as anyone who has read my blogs already knows, nothing gets me going more than the illogical conclusions often drawn when the "experts" discuss homeschooling and socialization. I've written a few posts over the years that express my views on the S-word and its place in the homeschool conversation.  (If you're bored and have nothing better to do, you can read some of my thoughts on socialization HERE, HERE and HERE.)

This morning my husband sent me a link to an article on homeschooling from Fox News. In Educating our Children: The Evolution of Homeschooling, Maggie Kerkman offers a nothing-new look at homeschooling that at once manages to be both complimentary and disparaging. Ms. Kerkman offers a few statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, as well as the opinion of assumed "expert," David Chard, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University who had this to say:
"We've become more experimental about the way we offer education to children. Many parents are able to provide strong educational opportunity for kids."
Experimental?  Really?  Is that what you think homeschooling is for me and my children, David?  An experiment?

Is it me just being defensive, or do you read something akin to this in his statement?  
Surprisingly, many parents are able to provide their children with an education that doesn't actually do them any harm, and could actually come close to rivaling the education they would receive in a traditional (non-experimental) school setting.
David Chard doesn't have a clue. Homeschool parents are doing far more than just providing "strong educational opportunities" for kids. 

Ms. Kerkman continues by reminding us that "’s not all about reading, writing and arithmetic."

Silly me. I thought education WAS about reading, writing and arithmetic. But according to Chard, it's also about...yep, right again...socialization. The author writes that Chard "worries home schooled students may be lacking in less tangible subjects, things like developing social or coping skills."

(Wait....what?  Developing social and coping skills is a subject now?)

This constant harping on the imagined problem of socialization is really getting on my nerves.  Has a study ever been published which gives credence to this concern?  Has anyone ever attempted to provide evidence to support the claim that homeschooled children lack social and/or coping skills at a statistically higher rate than their publicly-schooled counterparts?  And in throwing around these concerns as if they are based in a measurable reality, did it ever occur to one of these experts to take an honest look at the social skills of the children being schooled within the system they extol?  Because if they did, they would be forced to admit that socialization is a far greater problem within the walls of public schools than it is for homeschoolers.

I am further irked by the assumption made by the author that the existence of homeschool groups and co-ops has greatly improved homeschooling by offering much needed socialization opportunities to homeschooled children. Mind you, I don't believe that co-ops and homeschool groups are a bad thing.  They aren't.  They offer lots of benefits to homeschoolers.  In fact, the opportunity to socialize with other homeschoolers is just one of the many benefits.

But Ms. Kerkman seems to believe that there's a problem that is being solved as the homeschool movement evolves to include opportunities for socialization. In response to Mr. Chard's concerns about socialization, Ms. Kerkman states "Programs have sprung up over the years to help with that."  Inherent in that statement is the assumption that "developing social and coping skills" is something that homeschoolers needed help with.  I contend that there has never been a need for help in this area.  Homeschoolers do not need co-ops and homeschool groups to provide a high quality education OR to instill strong social and coping skills into their children.  Hundreds of thousands of  children homeschooled over the last three decades (my own three adult children included) have managed to become responsible, productive, and socially successful members of society without ever having had the advantage of being involved in a homeschool group or co-op.

I wonder how long it will be before the critics finally become convinced that their questions and concerns about homeschoolers and socialization are completely without basis.  The existence of socially successful (and famous) homeschoolers like Tim Tebow, Teresa Scanlan, and even The Jonas Brothers hasn't seemed to make a difference.

Maybe when a homeschooler becomes President they'll finally get it.


  1. Wasn't a majority of education done via homeschooling for the first 16(+) Presidents? I think they were responsible, productive members of society.

  2. We watched this season's premier of Top Shot last night that we recorded on the DVR. One of the contestants, the National Pistol Champion, was homeschooled from age 14.

    I was just shocked that they didn't edit that comment out!

  3. We're fighting a battle currently in Illinois over a Senate Bill that could require all homeschoolers to register with the state. I just read a comment from a senator (not the one who introduced the Bill) saying that he's not not sure he's in favor of the Bill, but he doesn't support homeschooling because "kids need to be socialized." That's it. Nothing about academics. He's against homeschooling because of socialization. Period.

    Not one of these people is capable of having having a rational thought.

  4. I think these politicians need to meet some of our "unsocialized" children.

  5. The only way to change the current thinking in public education is to have homeschoolers in positions of leadership within the educational system. Homeschooling critics sing the same song because they don't know any better. Somehow, it has been forgotten that socialization is not an artificial grouping of same aged people.

    I have a nitpicky point of contention for the detractors--why do they have so much trouble with the idea that homeschooling is a legitimate compound word? I know this is a silly complaint, but I have read at least one article (NY Post, Tuesday Oct. 5, 2010) where a homeschooler was practically mocked for her spelling of the word homeschooling. The article chose to highlight an email with several spelling errors followed by [sic]. I found this a snarky attempt to insult home educators. Spell-check may not accept the word, but the Oxford Dictionary online and the Free Dictionary both include the word "homeschooling" without space separation or hyphenation. How can I take critics seriously when they can't even spell the term homeschooling correctly? :o)

    Peace and Laughter!

  6. Here's a lovely story I found in the news yesterday about a 13-year old girl that was raped by three classmates in California. Yeah, that's the kind of socialization I'm really worried about my children missing out on...

  7. It is hard to get exact numbers but it appears the number of children being homeschooled doubles about every seven to ten years. I think in another decade or two there will be enough people who have personal experience with homeschooler5s that many of these bogus claims will be laughed out.

  8. Groups provide an easy outlet for getting together with others, but it's not as if we homeschool Moms wouldn't be smart enough to get our kids together with other people if we did not have said programs...nor is it necessarily true IF say our children rarely got together with other children outside of our own family, that this would take a terrible toll on their lives. In terms of the type of socialization that really healthy of a marriage one has, supportive connections with other people over the course of a lifetime, etc. one could argue that those that are isolated from mainstream society are actually better off.

  9. SO very true, Cathy!! A while back, I posted something along these very lines. Our kids ARE better off without society's (or the school's) brand of's the quote:

    "Schools are places where a dangerous brand of socialization is valued. This brand of socialization insists that children are capable of preparing each other to be meaningful, productive members of society. This brand of socialization argues that being bullied, ostracized, and laughed at is a necessary part of the socialization process. (How else will your children learn to get along in the world?) This brand of socialization exalts rudeness and vulgarity over civility and decency. It values disorder and chaos over discipline and self-control. This brand of socialization favors the popular, the attractive, and the likable, creating a social hierarchy which diminishes the value of those who don’t “measure up”."

    Thanks for stopping by!!