Archive for the ‘socialization’ Category

So… does proper socialization equal peer interaction? I don’t think so.   Leave a comment

I remember hearing the story about a 90 year old surgeon who was still practicing heart surgery regularly.  When he was asked about the secret to his longevity and his ability to still perform open heart surgery, he replied, “I don’t hang around old people.”  He surrounded himself with people many decades his junior; people who were actively engaged in life and not stuck in the mindset of his peer group.

When homeschoolers, especially newer homeschoolers, are asked the question of how their children will be socialized without schooling, they are quick to list off all the activities their children are involved in with their peers; sports, lessons, scouting, clubs and whatever endless enrichment activities are offered.  Homeschoolers often are comforted by being able to list off these things because we have bought into the idea that proper socialization equals peer interaction (because no one answers that question saying that they eat dinner around the table together every night or that their children are actually friends with each other).  In the earlier years of our homeschooling, I felt the same, but now I beg to differ and suggest that proper socialization really has nothing to do with peers. 

It has been interesting looking up various definitions of socialization. One definition read that socialization was to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation.  I definitely do not want my children behaving similarly and imitating their peer group – no thanks.  In a peer setting, imitation is what it is all about.  They dress the same, have the same gadgets, talk the same and act the same.  To them, the world is an 11 year old world, or a 16 year old world or whatever age they happen to be.  But the truth is, it’s an adult world and children need to grow up and learn to immitate adults so that they can eventually enter that world. 

The following definition from caught my attention; socialization is a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.  I would think the ideal environment a child acquires a personal identity is not one in which they are surrounded by their peers for almost all of their childhood, but one where they are encouraged to grow and learn at their own pace – not a preset pace determined by an educational system.  A place where there is no such thing as fear of being different from the crowd, because there is no crowd.  When a child has grown up at home and does encounter the crowd – they realize it is pretty lame. 

When a child spends years with their peer group, they become peer dependent and take on the identity of the group, which would include the norms, values and behaviors mentioned in the definition.  In order for personal identity to be acquired, it first has to be valued.  I personally believe there is no better place for that to be nurtured than through an environment that does not include excessive peer interaction, as the peer group generally does not value personal identity.   I think it would be more fitting for homeschoolers to ask their schooled counterparts if they are the ones concerned for their children’s socialization. 

How does this all tie into our 90 year old surgeon I mentioned at the beginning?  In order for him to keep himself from becoming like his peer group (here is where the ‘learning the norms, values and behavior’ comes in), he had to remove himself from it to develop a personal identity that didn’t keep him bound to the peer group mindset.  If we admire this man for stepping out of the norm for his age group and are not worried that he does not have friends his age – then I don’t think we need to be so concerned about children when they are not in step with their peers and have people of various ages that enrich their lives.

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