Posted on : 10:42 AM | By : Nic | In : unschooling
OR alternatively: How Homeschool Socialization Succeeds and Fails at the Same Time
The other day John was at work and was talking about his family life. He is a manager of store, he's 24, he's been married for 7 years, and he is about to have three children. His friend said, "Well you must be very religious." John said, "No, not really." His friend was confused... "You don't fit into any stereotypes!"
This got me thinking (of course). I am kind of the same way - I'm 27, I am a writer, a stay-at-home mom, an artist, a rudimentary environmentalist, and a tech geek. Oh, and I am about to have three kids. Oh, and we unschool. Partly because of my age, I don't fit into any stereotypes either.
John and I simply have a difficult time finding close friends, and I'd always wondered what it is. I had always assumed it was because we were really weird and most people are normal, lol. But at the same time I know plenty of eccentric people and still can't seem to 'fit in'. Now I am wondering if it's because people need stereotypes in order to relate to people. If someone can understand the stereotype that I fit into, it is easier for them to understand me and have a conversation. I don't think this is a bad thing - I wonder if this is what happens in a tribe, which humans naturally are supposed to live in. For example, in a tribe everyone is part of a 'stereotype' so everyone knows what to expect from each other.
In our modern society, being homeschooled has made me such an individual that I don't fit into any group. I am a bit shy, but I like people, and I feel like I can socialize pretty well (hopefully the people I socialize with feel the same). But these skills don't help me fit in because I have a completely unique mindset or way of operating. John is in a similar boat - he became self-taught in high school and started his own business, basically creating his own path that no one that he knows tried to do.
So I think the homeschool vs. socialization is a moot point. Home learning gives kids great socialization skills and they are able to relate to anyone. But the greater population as a whole just doesn't understand who these people are. When people are concerned about socialization, they should really say they are concerned that the kids won't fit in. Fitting in really isn't that important, but it can be a lonely road. Homeschool families should be more concerned with helping their children become extremely self-reliant, and I think this is where it fails. Many homeschool families (particularly the religious ones) have created a bubble of protection, trying to keep their children dependent on the family authority. This might work in some cases, but I think many will reach a point where they will question, "Who am I?" This should already be built in when they are young, and not by programming by parents, but an innate sense of identity.