HSLDA advocates for our member families in four basic areas: in the courtroom, on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and in the media.
I want to focus on the media here. Recently, the press reported the tragic shooting deaths of two students and injury to several others in Santana High School, Santee, California. Often, after this kind of event, the media calls HSLDA for our comment. I'm not sure what they are really seeking, perhaps some controversial statement condemning public schools. However, my approach has always been to emphasize the positive benefits of home education rather than the negative aspects of public education.
When the press called me after the Santee shooting, I pointed out a common thread seems to run through these incidents of school violence. All the perpetrators seem to have a consistent characteristic—a rage fueled by a lack of acceptance by their peers. In other words, the perpetrators were somehow different from the rest of the students. They just didn't fit in, so they were ridiculed and rejected. This is the socialization home schooled children are missing?
The assumption behind the question, "But what about socialization?" is that spending large blocks of time at school with peers is "positive" socialization. A renowned psychologist, when interviewed after the Santee shooting, advised parents to make make sure that their children have the same clothes and appearance as their peers. This is the wisdom of the world—it is more important for children to have the acceptance of their peers than the approval of their parents.
John Taylor Gatto in his book, The Underground History of American Education, defines the underlying philosophy—"The destructive myth of the 20th century was the aggressive contention that a child could not grow up correctly in the unique circumstances of his own family."
"Forced schooling was the principal agency broadcasting this attitude," Gatto concludes.
As home schoolers, we assume that we haven't bought into this myth—after all, we take full responsibility for the education of our children. But have we really escaped the myth? What is our answer when we face that inevitable question, "What about socialization?" Do we hastily defend our position by explaining the depth of the enrichment programs that we are providing for our children outside our home, e.g., piano lessons, ballet, debate, soccer, basketball, church youth group, and the list goes on and on? Don't get me wrong, none of these activities are wrong if kept in balance. But are we not giving in to the assumption that parents cannot provide all that their children need to develop into adults that honor God in their daily lives and serve their fellow man?
I submit that the companionship our children receive through interaction with all members of our extended families (from grandparents to toddlers) will foster an atmosphere in which our children can grow into morally upright, self-sufficent, and very well socialized adults. God has ordained the family to meet every need of a child, including socialization.
I'm not saying that home school families should not interact with other people, but I am saying that children learn the most important and positive social lessons from their families. For example, from their elders, our children learn to work under authority. Along with their siblings, children learn about teamwork and conflict resolution. As the family interacts with the community in daily life, children learn to apply these lessons with people outside the family.
If you worry about being overprotective, chances are you're not. And if violence continues to increase in our nation, especially among young people, your actions to properly limit and monitor the activities of your children outside your home will be applauded—and we will arrive at a day when we no longer are asked the question, "What about socialization?"