I have vivid childhood memories of the nasty stigma placed on children who were homeschooled. Maybe it was just in my southern eastern North Carolina environment, but the stereotype was that if you were homeschooled, you were undoubtedly awkward and did not stand a chance in the “real world.” I remember interacting with friends in extracurricular activities who were homeschooled and how for some reason everyone treated them a little differently than those who went to traditional public school. By “differently,” I mean that no matter how they acted, everyone remembered the fact that they were homeschooled.
Tonight I attended a talk on the celebration of free speech and the speaker briefly discussed how homeschooling has gotten “better” over the years. He went on to describe how networking between homeschooling families has grown, which I comprehended to mean that homeschooled students are in turn becoming equipped with more social interactions with other students and exposure to social situations.
So this brings me to perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding homeschooling: Does it teach adequate socialization? In her article on homeschooling, Rebecca Kochenderfer makes the argument that homeschooling actually promotes more positive socialization than traditional schools. She cites the social constructs that are placed around “regular” schooling: organized by age, sitting in classes, etc. She also talks about how the structure of traditional schools is teaching students to be “passive and compliant,” and how this can cause children to “learn to take abuse.” I don’t necessarily agree with her argument, but I will say that she makes an interesting case for the benefits of a more free-range education.
However, she also points to something I discussed a few weeks ago: camps. Part of her article encourages parents to utilize summer camp as an institution of socialization, an opportunity for one’s child to experience any socialization he or she may be lacking due to homeschooling. While she does make an interesting case for the benefits of homeschooling, her inclusion of camps and other “Opportunities to Socialize” seems to downplay her overarching message. Why include those suggestions if homeschooling is good enough in and of itself?
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My take on homeschooling is that while it can certainly have its benefits in terms of promoting independence and bringing children closer to their parents, it is problematic for several reasons. First, I stand with the age-old argument that students inarguably learn raw social skills through candidly interacting with peers, something that is simply unavailable at home. Students need traditional school environments to teach them how to function as positive and contributing members of a group, and while I obviously agree that summer camp and other institutions work to reinforce lessons learned in school, they aren’t enough on their own.
The argument that traditional schooling teaches children to “take abuse” is preposterous. Students should learn how to accept and adhere to authority, so long as that authority proves to be supportive and encouraging of their success. All of this being said, I do know students who were homeschooled who are great people and will be wonderful members of society. I think it’s important to note that the best way to discuss the topic of homeschooling is to hear from students who have been homeschooled themselves, so that may be my next post? What are your thoughts on homeschooling?