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."
David Chard doesn't have a clue. Homeschool parents are doing far more than just providing "strong educational opportunities" for kids.
(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.