What about socialization?
“What about socialization?” is the question I am most frequently asked about homeschooling. Only a few people have asked about academics. No one has ever asked:
“How do your children obtain instruction in wisdom?”
“How do your children learn discretion?”
“What about character?”
These curious queries regarding socialization are not about true socialization, rather they are about the currently acceptable definition- a gathering of a group of peers in an organized or unorganized way to hang out. I looked up the word social on http://www.dictionary.com:
“pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.”
The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it like this:
“ Pertaining to society; relating to men living in society, or to the public as an aggregate body; as social interests or concerns; social pleasures; social benefits; social happiness; social duties. True self-love and social are the same.”
Neither of these definitions mention that socializing must be with those of the same age. What is interesting in the shift of our culture, the word has been redefined. The 1828 definition mentions ‘relating to men living in society’. The bent of this explanation is towards an individuals being a benefit to society, not just hanging out.
Originally, schools were not designed to be greenhouses of socialization. The idea that children should be together with their peers all day was birthed out of necessity. It was never the goal.
According to Noah Webster, “[e]ducation comprehends all the series of instruction and discipline which is intended to:
1. enlighten the understanding
2. correct the temper
3. form the manners and habits of youth
4. fit them for usefulness in their future situations.”
Number four best describes socialization as it ought to be. Children should be “fit…for usefulness,” not be influenced for no purpose.
Today kids and many parents believe that the current interpretation of socialization is a right or necessity. Putting kids who have no foundation of morals or values together in a classroom is a disaster waiting to happen.
“See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah).”
It is important not to be taken captive by the world’s philosophy regarding education. Teens can be adamant about spending time hanging out with friends in a public school because “that is what everyone is doing,” but is that a good enough reason? Is the current socialization “vain deceit”? Is it promoting godliness or worldliness? Going to public school to be with friends is not a worthy reason. Imagine if an employee told his boss that he only came to work for the socialization?
I think it is important for everyone to have a social life, but it doesn’t have to be accomplished through government-run schools. Instead, it should be through parent-run families.
“My son, hear the instruction of your father; reject not nor forsake the teaching of your mother.” Proverbs 1:8
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Proverbs 1:9
It is significant that the mention of sinners enticing a person follows the verse that commands “hear the instruction of your father.” During the teen years, making right choices sets the stage for the rest of life. If a teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd and get involved in drugs, premarital sex, and alcohol, he may think he is having a great social life, but is he being a benefit to his family, to society?
Teens have mastered the double personality- one person with friends and another with family and church family. Our society has taught them that it is okay to curse while mom and dad are not around and to clean up the language when with family and church friends. What kind of living is that? We can thank the current world’s philosophy and deceit for that kind of thinking.
Imagine instead socialization is:
a teen reading a book to a younger child
having a tea party with toddlers
listening to a gray-haired veteran telling war stories
helping a young mom grocery shop
stopping and asking a lady whose car slipped into the ditch if she needs help
plowing the snow off a neighbor’s driveway because she lost her husband to cancer the year before, and spending a few minutes chatting with her
whole families getting together for a cook-out
The younger kids listen to the grown-ups talk about the good old days and problem solve. The older kids learn servant-hood by preparing the house for company. This kind of character in the midst of socializing only develops if parents direct these activities on purpose. Last Sunday, my brother, his wife and two little ones came for a cookout. I told the teens that I didn’t want to see any laptops out or any gaming that day. We talked all day! Grown-ups, teens, toddlers, all talked about books, weather, tea parties, schooling, YouTube videos and more. Great social time!