Two Kinds Of Socialization
The question about “socialization” of home-educated children recurs frequently. What we find is that parents will usually give a two-fold answer: 1) The children do participate outside the home in social networks, community service, etc. and are socially comfortable and 2) Negative socialization such as bullying, unhealthy competition, drugs, groupthink, regimentation, etc. are purposefully avoided. These are answers most outsiders would praise.
However, there is a second meaning to “socialization” not usually acknowledged — the political dimension. Actually, in a roundabout way, this observation has arisen as demographic reports keep mentioning the “uneducated” as a large voting block favoring the Trump campaign.
I propose that the more specific term “unsocialized” replace the term “uneducated”. This is the demographic that, through lack of extensive “schooling” through the public schools and secondary institutions, has not had the steady barrage of progressive education thrust upon them till they become normalized to that mindset.
I wrote about this political dimension in my 1987 article (see Home Education: Third Option, academia.com) saying that parents wished to avoid the “political agenda being foisted on the schools to change society, rectify social ills, alter human nature, etc.” Today, 30 years later, I would add that home educators are dodging the competency movement that aims to diminish the hard skills (3Rs) to be replaced with soft competencies (collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, character, etc.). And, of course, we can add these other agendas that home educators may want to downplay — environmentalism, social justice agendas, massive data collection, “neuroscientific” experimentation, etc.
The political socialization of Western nations can trace its origins to two authors, a century ago, Edward Bellamy and John Dewey, when the ideas of social reconstruction emerged. Bellamy’s book, Looking Backward (1888), foretold a socialist society where everyone had a good life. After close observation of talents demonstrated at school, everyone was guaranteed equal-pay work according to their abilities. John Dewey, father of progressive education and admirer of Bellamy, through his writings and lab schools helped set the path for our predominantly progressive slant in public education today.
In his book, Deschooling Society (1970, available for download on the Internet) Ivan Illich wrote: “School has become the planned process which tools man for a planned world, the principal tool to trap man in man’s trap. It is supposed to shape each man to an adequate level for playing a part in this world game.”
Teachers trained in teacher education faculties in our Western nations are influenced to be activists for social change. No other “profession” sends its graduates out on a social mission to change the world! Our Canadian Deans of Education subscribe to an Accord where one of its 12 principles “encourages teachers to assume a social and political leadership role”. Similar agreements undoubtedly inspire other education faculties around the world.
If Betsy DeVos does become the new Education Secretary in the Trump cabinet we know that education choice will be a huge priority. Home education will become a more pronounced option. Overall, families will have a greater choice than the near monopoly now existing that has the dual effect of both socializing children for the larger society as well as socializing the young for political agendas parents may or may not ordinarily choose.
[ comment posted on FEE article — It's a great time to be a homeschooler, Kerry McDonald — https://fee.org/articles/its-a-great-time-to-be-a-homeschooler/ ]