So Much for Socialization …

Every homeschooler has been questioned about the Big “S” … the socialization question. How will our poor homeschooled children ever become properly socialized? A single room with a single adult supervising 20 to 30 same-aged children is assumed to be the proper milieu for learning good social interaction skills.

Five-year-old Alex Barton might have a slightly different take on this concept. Alex is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism that causes eccentric behavior. But his kindergarten teacher thought it would be a good idea to make Alex the butt of a Survivor-type episode in the classroom, asking each of his classmates to publicly state what they disliked about the boy. As if that were not enough, at the end of this exercise, said teacher led the children in voting Alex out of the classroom. Alex spent the rest of the day in the nurse’s office. His mother has not returned him to school; but every morning since, when she drops off her older children at school, Alex is reduced to screaming hysteria though he stays inside the car.

I can’t help wondering, when public school fans are touting the virtues of institutional socialization to me: would they prefer their own child to be on the giving or receiving end of such an exercise?

0 thoughts on “So Much for Socialization …

  1. Whoa, sounds like a bad teacher, not a bad system (public schools, that is). Our district invites home-schoolers to play in orchestra (what I teach) as well as sports.
    I’ve noticed a “different” level of socialization, but nothing I’d ever be concerned about. Children are socializing in other ways, so to blame home-schooling sounds like a poor excuse, in my opinion.

  2. Robert, I appreciate your opinion on the socialization of homeschool kids – anyone who interacts with them honestly can see that they do have plenty of opportunity to develop good social skills. But as to public schools …

    Of course there are good teachers as well as bad teachers, but the point is that the system allows for this sort of thing to happen. Kind of like a monarchy – if you happen to get a bad king, everyone is stuck with him; ditto if you get a bad teacher, there is little check on her within her own little kingdom.

    Granted that this teacher’s transgression was so egregious as to call a good deal of attention and possibly (hopefully!) get her fired, but how many lesser offenses go unnoticed, unreported by the children on whom they are perpetrated, simply because they have been conditioned to accept such treatment and know themselves to be powerless against the teacher, or against the bullies, or against the system as a whole?

    Most assuredly, this is UNQUESTIONABLY the result of a bad system. The fact that good teachers often do good things does not in any way mitigate the fact that it is a bad system that allows bad teachers to do bad things, often unchecked; and too often ties good teachers’ hands so that they cannot do the good they wish to do and sometimes are forced to do things they know to be damaging to children. Check out for the story of a good teacher who quit teaching so he wouldn’t have to hurt kids any more.

  3. I agree with you, Carma. I’m taking a teaching class right now for college. We just finished studying the Common Schools time period. So many dangerous ideas started in that time era – the idea of public education as a right. That’s been revisited lately. When every child has a “right” to a public education, parents who violate that “right” by choosing private schooling or homeschooling are guilty. That’s also when grade level segregation began. I can understand that there has to be some type of organization in a large classroom in order for teachers to have any type of control. However, the public school system does not teach socializing – as in socializing with others, regardless or age, gender, race, religious beliefs, etc. It teaches sociaization – all children act the same. If there is a child who does not act like the other children, they are either put on medication to make them act like the other children or, like this example, emotionally damaged by the other children (and the teacher in some cases). I just got off the phone with a friend. We were discussing this case. She said she took her oldest son (now thirteen) out of public school and began homeschooling him for the same reason. I have heard so many parents say they chose homeschooling because their kids were either losing their own ideas and personality because of so-called socialization or because the teachers couldn’t handle their children because they were different than the other kids.

    Just my thoughts.


  4. That is absolutely outrageous. My heart aches for Alex and his family. At it’s best, public education can only offer peer socialization, which is pretty much akin to “the blind leading the blind. ” Homeschooled children. being community socialized, are usually far more at ease in a variety of social situations. I think the public educational system is hurting more children that it’s helping.

  5. I have recently been substitute teaching in the local public school system, my first experience doing so. Socially, it is horrifying. Learning is completely disparaged by the students. Any evidence of diversity in thinking, dressing, behavior, any small instance of non-conformity is immediately and mercilessly ridiculed.

    So what is the danger for homeschoolers? That they will enter the world insufficiently numbed to the horrors of their peers’ behavior? That they won’t know how to ridicule people? That they will be a dork because they still love learning? That they will have a too great tolerance for the wonder of individuality?

    I think we should take our chances. The public school system is set up to socialize children to be intolerantly conforming, and the best teacher in the world will struggle every day to swim against this tide until they lose their humanity or give up and find another career.

  6. If I were a parent in that school I would demand that teacher’s resignation as well as that of any administrator who supported or allowed or threw up his/her hands with regard to that situation. I’ve discussed my own family’s public school experiences on my own blog so I won’t repeat myself here. The system is definately broken.

  7. First off, yes my name is also Carma. I have 6 year old b/g twins and 8 yr old daughter. We are seeing many specialists for my g twin- and are ruling out Prader Willi. Last year in kindergarten she had a difficult time- she was slow to get things done and she was a little over weight (she did have sleep apnea and had her tonsils/adnoids out to try and relieve this to no avail). The other children in her class were very mean to her about being slow and overweight. When I discussed this with her teacher, her response was “Well it’s true”-since when is it okay to bully a child? This same teacher took the kids to another classroom, turned off the lights in the room and left my daughter in the adjoining bathroom- my daughter knew enough to go to the office to find out where they were. But the following week when she had an accident at school because she was so afraid to use the bathroom- the teacher said “she was just too busy outside and didn’t want to stop to go” No apology for leaving her alone in the class-What if it had been a fire! We also discussed many times having my daughter evaluated for extra help and it was like pulling teeth with this teacher- just too much work for her maybe. I have considered home schooling this daughter but unfortunately she doesn’t like me to teach her, (she used to scream when I tried to sing the alphabet to her) and she loves school. On a very positive note, she has a great teacher this year, and things are looking up.
    (I will continue to watch your blog as I have not completely ruled out homeschool for her)

  8. I agree whole heartedly.The socialization people should be worried about is the socialization in public schools! I’d love to put a link up on my blog directing people to this post if thats ok?


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