Monday, September 11, 2006

Why I Homeschool - Part V Socialization

"WHAT????!!!" you say, "I realize that you hear a lot about socialization when you homeschool, but 3 posts is overkill!"

Please be patient with me, Dear Reader, I promise this is slightly different.

As I've said before "but what about socialization?" is probably the number one question that we homeschoolers get. I love the shocked look on people's faces when I reply "I'm completely against it." And I am. There is very little that the government does that the private sector can't do included. I really don't feel it is in our best interests as citizens to have our children educated by our government. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I'm really not a cynic. Socialized education (as in "run by the government") is not the best option.

"But the government has an interest in having an educated citizenry." I completely agree. The government also has an interest in having an uneducated citizenry. That way they can buy into everything the media says, they lose the power to think through problems, and they learn to rely on the government for the majority of their livelihood. I do believe that most people in education are trying to do what is best for the children. I'm not trying to slam the educational establishment. I just don't believe they CAN do what is best for my children.

I subscribe to many of Charlotte Mason's theories, and I agree that the government does have an interest in having an educated electorate. But in the course of dealing with the masses, so much is lost in the idea of education. This can be seen in the very subject matter (textbooks are dry and unimaginative. They keep the child from actually getting excited about what is being studied), to the crowd control issues of dealing with a large number of kids all the same age, to the political issues of dealing with equality in the classroom and teaching to the level of those that are struggling rather than to those that are excelling. An assumption has to be made about what is normal, and apply that to everyone. This tends to hurt those who are struggling with developing at a different pace, either ahead of their class or behind, and can lead to misdiagnosis of learning disabilities as well.

Government regulation, aka compulsory attendance, also takes away my right as a parent to decide what is best for my children. Of course I want my children to have a good education, and I am willing to sacrifice to give them one. But all roles of deciding when this is the right time for my family, whether this option is right for my family , etc. are taken away. It was not too long ago that most children's education didn't start until eight years old, wasn't nine months out of the year, and still so much seemed to get done. Read Little House books. We're not just talking about the frontier. The parents' role in day to day education was actually most clear in Farmer Boy, which was in the state of New York.
Now, as the quality of education diminishes, the age at which are children our required to be there gets younger. Mandatory kindergarten now exists in many states, and now the push is for "universal preschool." The fact of the matter is, while education is failing our children, the blame is getting put on the parents for not doing what they should be doing in the early years. "Well, they're coming to kindergarten not knowing their shapes and colors." It takes a lot less time to teach a kindergartener their shapes than it does a three year old. It shouldn't be an issue -- and that isn't why Johnny can't read in fifth grade.

When you take away the parents role in key decisions, you take away their involvement in the basic process. Many parents are resigned to having their kids basically belong to the government at age 5, even thinking that is what is best for them, or not thinking about it at all, since it is what everyone else does. Because their commitment to education is circumvented by it being required, their level of involvement is also. So the teachers get the blame when the child is struggling, and the teachers blame the parents for not helping with homework.

Charlotte Mason describes the parent's responsibility as this: Parents have both a sacred trust and a civil trust to educate their child. When God gives children to two parents, they have a sacred responsibility to educate their child to know God and to become educated so they can be good Christians. They have also been given a civil trust. The government relies on the parents to fulfill their civic duty in educating their children so that they may be good workers and good citizens. The parents can choose many different options in doing this, but in the end, it falls on them. Now, we are to trust the government to determine what is best for our precious child, that they don't know, don't care about, and only honor as a body occupying a seat, possessing a textbook, and symbolized by a mark in a log book.

I'm not an idealist. I know that many fall short in this. There are parents who don't look after their children's welfare or make poor decisions. But that doesn't mean the job should fall to the government either. There have always been other options, and there have always been those who care enough to keep trying new ones.

Okay, off my soap box. I'm sorry if this seems a little sporadic and doesn't make any sense. This is the area where I probably struggle the most with HOW to express my beliefs in this area. It is difficult because I am not paranoid, I'm not a hermit (though I'd like to be), and I'm not extreme politically. I even have loads of family that are school teachers. Yet on a practical level, I do believe that how things are being done now is not the answer. I also tend to see most private schools duplicating the way public schools do it and still claiming to provide a better education...or at least one that includes applying the same faulty educational principles to religion as well.

1 comment:

Joshua 6:27 said...

In my limited experience, home schoolers are as social as their parents.