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31 March 2009


Monkey's two and a half now, and I find that I'm beginning to have friends ask me about how he will get his "socialization" if he's homeschooled. Most recently, it was in a conversation with some friends who were discussing their preschool options. I sat quietly, feeling I didn't really have anything to contribute in a conversation about the merits of 2-days-a-week vs. 3-days-a-week preschool, thinking of President Benson's quote, but feeling that it might be rude to say much, if anything.

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. We become enamored with men's theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother's influence. Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children's needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is mother's influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child's basic character. Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother's loving example to choose righteousness. How vital are mother's influence and teaching in the home-and how apparent when neglected!" -Ezra Taft Benson (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 104)

My friends noticed my silence, and commented that I probably wouldn't be putting Monkey in preschool. (Our intention to homeschool is well known.) I said I thought that he could learn any academic work just as well or better at home, and that I thought it was important for children to spend time with their Mothers, and hoped the converstation would move on quickly. It was rather awkward. To be fair, one of these friends is a single mom, and the other's husband job requires long absences in which she must act as a single parent. Our situations are certainly not the same, and preschool or daycare may be a necessary option for some. But the experience made me think about socialization, and the expectation that school is the only place where you could possibly get it. The thing is, if socialization is the process of learning manners, learning the way that you should interact with others, this doesn't seem like a good argument for public schools at all. I want my children to learn their manners from their parents, and from other good role models. I don't want them to behave like the profane bullies that I went to school with, or the victims the bullies picked on! The language used in schools is terrible. The moral environment is, if possible, worse. This is NOT the sort of "socialization" I want my children to pick up. And it's not true to real life either. I think that Lisa Russell said it very well:

As a society full of people whose childhood’s were spent waiting anxiously for recess time, and trying desperately to "socialize" with the kids in class; It is often difficult for people to have an image of a child whose social life is NOT based on school buddies. Do you ever remember sitting in class, and wanting desperately to speak to your friend? It's kind of hard to concentrate on the lessons when you're bouncing around trying not to talk. Have you ever had a teacher who rearranged the seats every now and then, to prevent talking, splitting up friends and "talking corners." Were you ever caught passing notes in class?

Now- flash forward to "real life." Imagine the following scenes:

Your Employer is auditing the Inter-Office Email system and comes across a personal note between you and a coworker. You are required to stand at the podium in the next sales meeting to read it aloud to your coworkers. The Police knock on your door, and announce that because you and your neighbor have gotten so close, they're separating you. You must move your home and your belongings to the other side of town, and you may only meet at public places on weekends. ...

You're applying for a job and in an unconventional hiring practice, you are made to line up with other applicants, and wait patiently while representatives from two competing companies take their pick from the lineup.

You're taking your parents out for an anniversary dinner. After you find a table, a waiter tells you that seniors have a separate dining room, lest they "corrupt" the younger members of society. ...

You'd like to learn about Aviation History. You go to the library and check out a book on the subject only to be given a list of "other subjects" that you must read about before you are permitted to check out the aviation book. ...

Your Cable Company announces that anyone wishing to watch the Superbowl this year must log on a certain number of hours watching the Discovery Channel before they can be permitted to watch the game.

You apply for a job only to be told that this job is for 29 year olds. Since you're 32, you'll have to stay with your level.

In a group project, your boss decides to pair you up with the person you don't "click" with. His hope is that you'll get learn to get along with each other, regardless of how the project turns out.

Read the whole article: No, Thank you. We Don't Believe in Socialization.


Tricia said...

Oh this is good and so true. How can we bring this message to the world?

Ritsumei said...

I don't know. I once had a conversation with one of my favorite people about socialization, and I said that age-grouping like is done in the classroom is not a real-world idea. I said, "You'll never again be grouped with your same age like you are in school. It's irrelevant, it's not useful for preparing to be an adult." She looked at me and said, "Yes it is." I asked her if her co-workers were the same age. She didn't get it. When it became apparent that she wasn't going to get it, I gave it up because I didn't want to fight with her over it. But it still puzzles me. One of her co-workers was nearly ready to retire, the other one that I knew how old she was, was just recently out of college!! What does age-segregation have to do with that? You go to church, to work, to the gym, wherever, there will never be another time in life where you can't play with someone simply because your birthday is a few months too soon or too late. In fact, the further from high school you get, the less that age matters in friendships.

Jeannetta said...

Socialization is what we do to babies; they know human companionship is good, Mother and Father equal love, that touch is tender etc; Socializing is what they do at school, and I always got in trouble for that!
No, only under extreme circumstances would it be good for children to be away from Mother's influence.
I had NEVER heard President Benson's quote, I need to go read the whole article!


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