I wrote about problems in the public school system a few days ago and have received an enormous number of emails in response. I hadn't planned to continue the conversation but the conversation seems to be continuing regardless, so I'm using my podcast today to say a little more about it. I mainly want to address one particular argument I read many times this week, and have heard countless times over the years. The argument is that we must send our kids to public school so that they can be "socialized."
This argument seems to flip reality on its head and turn one of the great hazards of public school into one of its primary benefits. Even if you send your kid to public school -- and as I've stated many times, I'm not condemning you if you do -- I really don't think you should rely on it to "socialize" him. Let it educate your child in math and science, but how to be a well adjusted, sociable human being is a lesson that the parent must teach, whether the child is public schooled or home schooled. All parents must do some form of home schooling, after all, in that there are things that we must teach our kids ourselves and not depend on the schools to handle. "Socialization" is definitely one of those things.
It's pretty astonishing that anyone could look at our society today and come away with the impression that the school system does a successful job at socializing the youth. My generation is perhaps the most poorly adjusted, immature, anti-social generation in American history, and yet everyone thinks we were properly "socialized." I'm not saying the school system is entirely to blame for my generation's lack of socialization, but I am saying that it clearly doesn't deserve any credit for doing something it obviously has not done.
And why hasn't it done it? Because the "socialization" in the school system is totally driven by the kids themselves. Kids learn to socialize by mimicking other kids. They pick up their behavioral cues from each other. It is a classic blind leading the blind scenario. The youth culture in the schools does not at all encourage or facilitate a child in his quest to discover himself and develop his own unique personality. On the contrary, individuality is discouraged and uniqueness is punished. Conformity and codependence are what the youth culture breeds and demands. Again, this is obvious both from looking at the results and from even the briefest encounter with the social environment in almost any school in the country.
A child learns to properly socialize by following and observing adults. This is something we must teach our kids ourselves. We can't task our children's friends with showing them how to be mature and socially adept. So, if our kids go to school outside the home, their true socialization happens when they get home. It's one thing to send a kid to public school. It's another to expect the school system to do something that should be the duty and prerogative of the parent.