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Homeschooling, Socialization, and the New Groupthink by B.K. Marcus

“But what about socialization?”

We who educate our children outside the school system confront an exhausting array of accusations posing as concerns, but the most puzzling — and the most persistent — is the socialization question. For years, I’ve taken it at face value:How, the skeptic seems to be asking, will your kids ever learn to be sociable if you keep them locked up at home all day?

That very few homeschooled kids lead the lives of sheltered isolation implied by this question does not seem to assuage the questioner. There’s something kids are assumed to receive from the process of group schooling — especially from large, government-funded schools — that helps them fit in better with society at large.

Learning to Be a Cog

I recently talked to a mom who wants to homeschool her daughter. The girl’s dad objects to the idea because, he insists, home education will fail to prepare her for “the real world.” I find it significant that this man is career military. The real world, as he knows it, is regimented, tightly controlled, and bureaucratized into stasis — at least compared with the very different real world of voluntary exchange and spontaneous order.

If your goal for your children is a lifetime of government work, then by all means send them to public school: the bigger, the better. But if, by “socialization,” you mean ensuring that a child becomes sociable, that he or she develops the intelligence and social reflexes that promote peaceful and pleasurable interactions with larger groups of friends and strangers, then the irony of the what-about-socialization question is that it gets the situation precisely backwards. It is schooled kids, segregated by age and habituated to the static and artificial restrictions of the schooling environment, who demonstrate more behavioral problems while in school and greater difficulty adjusting to the post-school world.

Does “Socialization” Mean Peer Pressure?

While homeschooled kids learn to interact daily with people of all ages, schools teach their students to think of adults primarily in terms of avoiding trouble (or sometimes seeking it). That leaves the social lessons to their peers, narrowly defined as schoolmates roughly their own age.

If your goal for your children is a lifetime of government work, then by all means send them to public school: the bigger, the better. 

Thomas Smedley, who prepared a master’s thesis for Radford University of Virginia on “The Socialization of Homeschool Children,” put it this way:

In the public school system, children are socialized horizontally, and temporarily, into conformity with their immediate peers. Home educators seek to socialize their children vertically, toward responsibility, service, and adulthood, with an eye on eternity.

As a result, most homeschooled kids grow into well-adjusted, flexible, and emotionally mature adults, open to a diversity of peers and social contexts.

Psychology professor Richard G. Medlin wrote in “Homeschooling and the Question of Socialization Revisited,”

Homeschooling parents expect their children to respect and get along with people of diverse backgrounds.… Compared to children attending conventional schools … research suggest that they have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults.

Furthermore, says Medlin, “They are happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives.” How often do you hear those words applied to any other group of children?

Meanwhile, “there seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence,”according to researcher Michael Brady, “that children socialized in a peer-dominant environment are at higher risk for developing social maladjustment issues than those that are socialized in a parent-monitored environment.”

The Persistence of the Socialization Myth

The contention that kids kept out of large group schools will somehow suffer in their social development never made any sense to begin with. (In fact, large group schools may hurt social development.) Did no one enjoy any social skills before the era of mass education?

Decades of research now support the common-sense conclusion: the artificially hierarchical and age-segregated structure of modern schooling produces a warped form of socialization with unhealthy attitudes toward both authority and peers.

The students who escape this fate are those with strong parental and other adult role models and active engagement with a diverse community outside school. Homeschooling holds no monopoly on engaged parents or robust communities, but those advantages are an almost automatic part of home education.

So why does the socialization myth refuse to die?

Perhaps we have been misunderstanding the critics all along. Homeschoolers think of socialization as the development of an autonomous individual’s social skills for healthy interactions within a larger community. But maybe what we consider healthy isn’t at all what the critics have in mind.

Reprogramming the Quiet Child

Susan Cain’s 2012 book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, does not specifically address homeschooling, but Cain does talk about the history of education and the evolution of what she calls the “Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”

Starting in the 1920s, Cain tells us,

The experts advised parents to socialize their children well and schools to change their emphasis from book-learning to “assisting and guiding the developing personality.” Educators took up this mantle enthusiastically.…

Well-meaning parents of the midcentury sent their kids to school at increasingly young ages, where the main assignment was learning to socialize. (emphasis added)

In the 19th century, education was still understood to mean the development of an individual’s character, intellect, and knowledge. By the mid-20th century, education reformers had shifted the emphasis away from preparing the individual student for his or her future and toward integrating individuals into a larger group and a larger vision of a reformed society.

The New Groupthink

We 21st-century Americans may think of ourselves as “unlike the starched-shirted conformists of the 1950s,” to use Cain’s phrase, but she sees the extrovert ideal asserting itself once again in what she calls “the New Groupthink,” which, she explains, “elevates teamwork above all else.”

In ever more schools, this teamwork is promoted “via an increasingly popular method of instruction called ‘cooperative’ or ‘small group’ learning.” This “cooperative” approach, whatever the intentions behind it, actually hurts students — introverts and extroverts alike — both academically and intellectually. To explain why, Cain cites the work of Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and one of the world’s leading researchers on expertise.

Occasional solitude, it turns out, is essential to mastery in any discipline.

It’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which [Ericsson] has identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful — they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.

Cain and Ericsson offer several reasons why deliberate practice is best conducted alone, “but most important,” writes Cain, “it involves working on the task that’s most challenging to you personally.”

Co-ops, study groups, playgroups, and à la carte classes mean that a homeschooled student spends plenty of time with other kids, including conventionally schooled kids. But homeschooling also allows children more alone time for the kind of learning Ericsson describes.

This is not what most schools offer; neither is it compatible with the emphasis on cooperative learning.

The Homeschooled Self

“The structure and reality of traditional schools,” writes Rebecca Kochenderfer for Homeschool.com, teach kids “to be passive and compliant, which can follow the children throughout life. Children can learn to take abuse, to ignore miserable bosses or abusive spouses later on.”

“In a traditional school,” Kochenderfer adds, “someone else usurps authority.”

Kids from homeschooling families learn a very different lesson about authority and responsibility.

Researcher John Wesley Taylor used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale to evaluate 224 homeschooled children for self-esteem. “On the global scale,” writes Taylor, “half of the homeschoolers scored at or above the 91st percentile. This condition may be due to higher achievement and mastery levels, independent study characteristics, or one-on-one tutoring situations in the homeschool environment.”

A strong “self-concept ” doesn’t mean that homeschooled kids are self-centered. “Their moral reasoning is at least as advanced as that of other children,” according to Richard G. Medlin’s research, cited earlier, “and they may be more likely to act unselfishly.” What it does mean, however, is that children educated at home are less likely to grow up to be followers.

In 1993, J. Gary Knowles, then a professor of education at the University of Michigan, surveyed 53 adults who had been taught at home by their parents. He found that nearly two-thirds were self-employed. That’s more than twice the global average and about 10 times the current national average. “That so many of those surveyed were self-employed,” said Knowles, “supports the contention that home schooling tends to enhance a person’s self-reliance and independence.”

That independence may be the real source of critics’ concerns.

“Public school educators and other critics,” Knowles commented, “question whether home-educated children will be able to become productive, participating members of a diverse and democratic society.”

But with so much evidence for the superior results achieved by homeschooling — both academically and socially — we have to question the critics’ goals. Is their concern really for the welfare of those educated outside the schools? Or is it rather, as so much of their language suggests, for the success of a particular vision of society — a vision that they fear the independently educated may not readily accommodate?

B.K. MarcusB.K. Marcus

B.K. Marcus is editor of the Freeman.

America Has Lost Its Identity

There is no example in the history of the world of a civilization, culture, or country that has survived without an intact family unit.

Historically, this has meant father, mother, sister, brother, grandparents, and sometimes other extended family members.  With the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution came what we now know as the nuclear family-father, mother, brother and sister.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants flooded into America in an effort to flee oppressive governments back home or to pursue greener pastures here.

It was implicitly understood that English was the de facto official language, being a good citizen was expected, and contributing to the betterment of America was one’s civic and moral obligation.

Children were taught to go to school, get a job, get married, and to raise a family.  These principles served us pretty well as a nation until recently.

Now, I no longer know what it means to be an American.

People come to this country, legally and illegally, and refuse to speak English.  Judges and politicians are redefining the family unit; gender is no longer determined at birth; the government is invading every aspect of both our public and private lives.

How is it possible for mankind to be so arrogant as to say their gender is no longer determined at birth, based on the anatomical features present when they are born?

Now that Mother Nature is getting up in age, she is beginning to make all sorts of mistakes.  Boys born with penises are claiming to be girls; girls born with vaginas are now claiming to be boys.

Some are even going so far as to say there is no longer a thing called gender; there is no male or female; but rather one can “self-identify” from moment to moment as to what their gender is.  Even President Obama has demonstrated his belief in this foolishness.  A few months ago, he made bathrooms in the White House “gender neutral.”  Bathrooms are no longer labeled as male or female. You can now choose which one to use based on how you “self-identify” at that moment.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Greek philosopher, Protagoras.  I studied him while attending Oral Roberts University.  He is considered the father of relativism, which basically said there are no absolutes.

Protagoras is best known for his statement, “Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not.”  So this insidious notion of “self-identifying,” is an extension of Protagoras’ philosophy.

According to this view, there is no God or any higher power.  Each individual is the all and be all of their existence.  There is no common moral framework by which man should live by; every man lives by his on individual moral code.

By believing thus, a society loses the very glue that keeps a people united.  Typically, language, moral values, and patriotism are some of those common threads that make a society cohesive.

I currently stand at five foot eight inches tall; but I currently self-identify as six foot eight inches tall, therefore, I should legally be recognized by that which I believe, regardless of whether it’s based on facts.

As crazy as the above sounds, is this not what Rachel Dolezal did.  She is the White woman who is the head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP.  Last week she admitted that she was born White, but now she self-identifies as Black; thus, making her Black.  Even on legal documents she has been listing her race as Black, though her own birth certificate states that she is White.

She should be prosecuted to every extent of the law and the NAACP should have fired her immediately.

But, as usual, the NAACP’s leadership showed why no one takes them seriously as an organization.  Here is what their national office had to say about Dolezal, “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.”  So, I guess lying is now a permitted quality for a leadership position with the NAACP.

Since there are no longer any absolutes, we now have a country where sex is no longer determined at birth and race is no longer determined by genetics or ancestry.  I can claim to be seven feet tall, though I am only five foot eight; but yet have the legal standing of being a seven footer simply because I say it’s so.

Would you go to a medical professional who only “self-identifies” as a physician; having never attended medical school?

A society without rules is a society in chaos.  You have little kids thinking they are homosexual; you have people in the country illegally who think they have a constitutional right to be here; entertainers like Kanye West and Omar Epps think it is OK for them to wear dresses.

Values are the DNA of a society and America has lost its values in the name of individual freedom.  Freedom only works within the context of shared rules or beliefs.

The game of basketball is a good example.  Everyone that plays the game agrees to a common set of rules by which the game is played.  Within these rules are opportunities for individual players to express their uniqueness.

But without a common acceptance of the rules of the game, basketball cannot exist.

So it is with America; without common acceptance of rules dealing with sexuality, morals law & order, we will no longer exist as a society.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Lie Obama Keeps Repeating About the Poor in America

What is ‘the Basic Issue’ facing the World today?

If you believe the basic issue facing the world today is the Ebola pandemic, the Islamic State, an eminent financial collapse, famine, poverty, government corruption, climate change or war you would be wrong. Some times people can’t see the forest for the trees. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, then you can’t see the whole situation clearly because you’re looking too closely at small details, or because you’re too closely involved.

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today?

Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

The Giver CoverI had read Ayn Rand’s paper and recently went to the movie theater to see “The Giver“, a film based on a 1993 young adult novel by Lois Lowry. The Giver is set in a society which is at first presented as a Utopian [Collectivist] society and gradually appears more and more dystopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth and thirteenth years of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives.

One of the key quotes from The Giver is: We really have to protect people from wrong choices.

For Collectivists this is the key concept for their social system. Rand defines a social system as “a code of laws which men observe in order to live together.” For an individualist the power of society is “limited by the unalienable, individual rights of man.” For the Collectivist “the power of society is unlimited.”

There are several points in the film where the life of a new born child is taken, by lethal injection, because of a perceived defect that may negatively impact the collective. Ayn Rand wrote:

“Under individualism, it is illegal to kill the man and it is legal for him to protect himself. The law is on the side of the right.

Under collectivism, it is legal for the majority to kill a man and it is illegal for him to defend himself.

The law is on the side of a number.

In the first case, the law represents a moral principle.

In the second case, the law represents the idea that there are no moral principles, and men can do anything they please, provided there’s enough of them.

Rand gives examples of each principle. Individualism is embodied in the United States of America by the Declaration of Independence. The examples of Collectivism are the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Many are concerned that the United States is becoming a Collectivist society. Rand wrote, “When [Collectivism is] applied in practice, a principle which recognizes no morality and no individual rights, can result in nothing except brutality.” Rand notes:

Either the power of society is limited, or it is not. It can’t be both.

Rand and a growing number of Americans understand that the Constitution “is not a document that limits the rights of man – but a document that limits the power of society over man.” Rand defines a right as “that which can be exercised without anyone’s permission.” Inalienable rights means that, “Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness.”

What is the shield that protects man’s inalienable rights? Moral Principles.

Rand wrote, “It is true that society can abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat any time he chooses. But a man cannot do this if wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist… Without a moral code no proper human society is possible. Without the recognition of individual rights no moral code is possible.”

Rand concludes “there can be no social system which is a mixture of Individualism and Collectivism.”

You see the Ebola pandemic, the Islamic State, a financial collapse, famine, poverty, government corruption, climate change and war are all symptoms of Collectivism. The cure for each is Individualism.

RELATED VIDEO: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. perhaps expressed the ideal of individualism best in a three minute sermon titled “The Street Sweeper”. Many believe this was his greatest sermon.

EDITORS NOTE: To download a printable copy of Any Rand’s paper What is the Basic Issue in the World Today, click here. If you are looking for a holiday gift to give yourself, your children, grandchildren or a family member or friend may we suggest giving either the novel The Giver or a DVD of the film or both.

Small Numbers of Homosexuals have Formed Politically Obnoxious very Public and Virulently Demanding Groups

We recently posted a column titled “No One is Born Gay” by Michael Brown, the author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality. There were a number of comments about the column on Google+. One of the most interesting was by Jack Rigby, a psychologist living in Australia who, “[I]n my early practice before I went sane many decades ago,  I worked with many, many homosexuals.”

I asked Jack this question: What is the social redeeming value of homosexuality, exactly?

Jack responded with a very thoughtful and insightful reply based upon his clinical experiences. The following is the full text of Jack’s answer to my question:

Utterly none. Individual homosexuals can be constructively integrated to the rest of the population by simply conforming to normal social mores and exercising discretion.

The interesting observation I made over many decades of association with sexually aberrant people, was that these people almost instinctively recognize others of the same state without any obvious physical indications.

However, in recent decades in the fractured Society in the West, there has been a very strange situation develop in which small numbers of Homosexuals have formed politically obnoxious very public and virulently demanding groups .

This is creating a very dangerous situation for the great bulk of homosexuals who live quiet and integrated lives because there will be, without question, a violent mass backlash against them in the not distant future as has always happened in the past throughout the history of all races, Religions and Societies.

I actually have a great deal of concern for the number of the normally integrated ones who will be innocently caught up in the eventual reaction of Society to these strident, insane  anti-social demands of the entirely unstable violent few, whose intolerable antics and demands have already surpassed any reasonable level of public tolerance.

Just as the entire Muslim communities throughout the West are now being demonised by the insane few who are provoking the immensely dangerous West with no grasp of the violence it is capable of at all.

“History teaches the fanatic nothing, but does teach the wise when to leave.” (Kylneth circa 1987 Iraq)

None of us are perfect and it is a sign of maturity personally and nationally to be able to accept imperfection in others. Only to the point at which the others threaten us.

My reply to Jack was:

Agree fully with your analysis. However, you miss one major point. Homosexuals, like the Muslims, are not speaking out against those “Homosexuals [who] have formed politically obnoxious very public and virulently demanding groups.”

Where are those homosexuals???

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Gender Inclusive’ School District says Drop ‘Boys and Girls,’ Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’