Friday, November 15, 2013

What About Socialization? {Part 3} {A Battle For Their Mind}: Reasons Why I'd Never Homeschool!

I'm spending the next few Fridays, on the blog, debunking a few myths about homeschooling from my new-found perspective. It will not be an exhaustive list. You can get that from a more experienced homeschool family. However, there are a few that stand out like a sore thumb to me, that I thought worth addressing.

Our children are not growing up exercising great minds. In too many cases, the idea of critical thinking, by the time they leave home, is simply abandoning their own and adopting someone else's — because they've never really learned how to think. 

This is a problem.

There is a lot of concern out there about children being properly socialized by attending school.

I'm not going to argue that one method of schooling is better than the other. That is each families personal choice. However, I am going to address the irony of our thinking when it comes to this topic.

We seem to think that unless our children are in school and around lots of other children their own age, they won't be around people at all, therefore will not be socialized. And unless our children are in school and around lots of other children, they won't know how to handle conflict or the problems of the real world.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

Socialization can be argued both ways and I think it comes down to a few critical questions:

1) How do we define socialization?

2) Is age-segregated socialization really the better kind of socialization for our children?

3) Is our culturally-obessessed idea of socialization actually hindering our ability to raise great thinkers?

Last week, I addressed, "Is age-segregated socialization really the better kind of socialization for our children?" here. Today I am addressing the final question:

Is our culturally-obssessed idea of socialization actually hindering our ability to raise great thinkers?


It may seem absurd that I would suggest that compulsory schooling would hinder our children's ability to think. That's a pretty bold statement, right? Well, stay with me here. 

We all want our children to be great in how they think and what ever they may choose to do in life, don't we? We wouldn't make the decisions we are making for them if we didn't think they were the best for them; if we didn't think we were giving them the best chance at success.

In our family, the one overall goal we have for our children is for them to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, and with all their soul and with all their strength and with all their mind. (Luke 2:7)

The Message says it like this:
He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence -- and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself." Luke 2:7
The four basic educational goals that I keep in my back pocket for our children are that they will read well, write well, speak well, and think well.

Those are all broad, inter-related qualities, yet how we use our mind is what stands out to me. It's loving God with our intelligence and its the "thinking well" that stands out from the rest when I consider education. 

It's also the part that I believe, too often, gets overlooked by well-intended parents.

Let's break it down.

How do we think?

Without getting into brain cells, neurotransmitters, and axons, simply and practically put, author, speaker, and founder of Institute for Excellence in Writing, Andrew Pudewa, suggests that we think simply by asking ourselves questions and then processing the answers to those questions.

When we ask ourselves questions that we must find the answers to, we call that our curiosity. In other words, we embody a strong desire to know something. 

Curiosity is the pathway to discovery and discovery is the life-line to real learning. 

Because what we fraught with to discover for ourselves will stick.

Elizabeth Foss, author of Real Learning, wisely advises parent teachers to, "Present the ideas, provide the resources, and get out of the way. When the atmosphere encourages learning, learning is inevitable."

Curiosity fosters a love of learning, independent learning, and life-long learning.

A child's curiosity requires time, lots of time and questions, lots of questions to delve into and explore. 

Now consider compulsory schooling.

Is a child, who grows to learn to do what "the experts" tell him to do, when they tell him and how they tell him, truly learning with his own mind? Is he asking the right questions in order to process something thoroughly or, are too many questions frowned upon?

This statement isn't to discredit devoted teachers (unfortunately, it seems they are losing their freedom to teach creatively, as well). In the average scenario, of course, questions are tolerated. Yet in reality, how many before it disrupts the lesson, the class, the agenda?

Compulsory schooling — the system — is not designed to encourage ample questions to satisfy a child's curiosity. The basis of its design is conformity. No matter how or which way you look at it, compulsory schooling has little to do with producing great minds and everything to do with conforming minds. It has to do with conforming a mass production for the benefit of our current culture and its economics.

Curiosity is handed over to the knowledge being fed and regurgitated.

So what does this have to do with socialization?

If it's not enough already that children are dependent, lack the practice of speaking up and asking ample questions and have learned to accept that which is presented, as fact; add in the social aspect. The numbers alone surrounding our children are significant.

Socially, there is an overwhelming amount of noise and pressure constantly surrounding our children. The intense pressure surrounding them doesn't necessarily give our children more opportunity to face and properly deal with issues, solidifying their own determined thoughts (which are growing more and more indifferent). To the contrary, I believe it clouds their intellectual thinking, making it nearly impossible to sort through all the noise.

These conditions make it much more difficult for children to know themselves or establish their individual identities, as they grow. 

On the other hand, we can do something about that.

"We'll never eliminate noise from our lives (that is impossible in our culture)," says  Davis, "Yet we can reduce the overwhelming noise our children have to sort through everyday."

Davis continues, "I believe that this component of home education is the very reason why we have children who are so confident and sure of themselves — they have been given the time and the tools with which to process the input in their lives in an orderly way."

"Last month the education press reported...that children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers in their ability to think." John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down (1992)

So what sets children a part?

To Conform or Not to Conform?

There is good argument for necessary and appropriate times to conform within a group setting. Where ever we go, we learn to abide by the rules and get along with those around us. We learn to treat others the way we would want to be treated. 

That is not the measure of conformity that is concerning here. It is the conforming to the ever-changing ways of this world and our culture that is concerning. 

No where in scripture does it tell us to conform to our culture, but rather it admonishes us not to conform, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom 12:2)

Whether it be academically or socially, our children are inundated.

Sally Clarkson, author of The Mission of Motherhood, wisely advises us, as we engage our world around us, not to be  afraid of the culture, but to be wiser than the culture.

More than our children need to conform, they need the fortitude to know when not to conform. 

In Conclusion

Our children were made as intelligent beings, in the image of God. They were fearfully and wonderfully made, with individual gifting and characteristics. They have the ability to think great thoughts because of the greatness of their Creator.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."  Isaiah 55:8 tells us that God's thoughts are higher than our own.

The more solitude we have with God — a part from all the noise in life — the more we will think with the mind of God, allowing him to show us his ways.

We can offer this to our own children by simplifying their lives a bit — through the gift of allowing ample time for exploration and solitude.

You see, we can have a heart for God, yet if our intellectual muscles are not strengthened on a spiritual level, we will deny him. We will be like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. And our intellect will be to our heart and souls detriment.

So why are we obsessed with distracting our children every minute of the day, hoping to inspire greatness, when everything worldly is nothing more than mediocre?

Children need less noise and more time — time with God, time to explore, time to ask questions, and answer those questions, with or without guidance, for themselves.

That is what inspires greatness.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Don't risk having to taste the bitter fruits of conformity because you possibly accept the world's way of doing things rather than actively transforming your life by faith. Clay Clarkson, Educating the Whole Hearted Child

The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. Albert Einstein

The purpose of this post is to challenge current trends and encourage deeper thinking behind our ideas of socialization. I hope you will be encouraged.

You can read previous posts on this series, Reasons Why I'd Never Homeschool, below:

I have another handful of topics up my sleeve, for this series. However, I'm taking a break. I'll pick back up on the series sporadically or after the holidays.Topics you can expect to see will be:

You Can't Protect Them Forever
What About Testing
What About the Standards
What Do You Do All Day Anyway

Suggestions? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Theresa,

    We've loved our years homeschooling and have found that socialization isn't an issue, you're right. Usually it's about cutting out some of the many options for socialization, in fact. :)

    Nice to stop "in" and see you again,
    Blessings to you and your family in this new journey,
    Jennifer Dougan


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