Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Run Faster When There's Other People In The Race

As I've mentioned before, well-meaning persons often worry aloud that our home-schooled children will not be "socialized." They do not know what they mean.

They know what that used to mean, and so cling to the formulation. Children used to be thrown together, and would learn this and that by observing others and comparing themselves to what they saw. A natural kind of competition springs up and children test themselves against others over and over. This is all dead as a Pharoah.

Children are now thrown together to inure them to being thrown together, forevermore, among a group of persons that must not in any way compete with one another. They must remain passive, or they will be made so by discipline or a trip down pharmaceutical lane. By never being allowed to test themselves against others, and ratcheting their efforts up to match what they've seen from others, they never reach their full potential.

I have run in footraces. Longer than that one in the video. You run faster in a race than you do in practice. The other people spur you on. Cheerleaders don't. It's an interesting and exhilarating phenomenon.

We had a child in our home to visit. He described a class he had in school. The teacher was dyslexic. No one was allowed to "notice" that the teacher was dyslexic for fear of ferocious consequences. Since the teacher was chalking mathematical equations on the board with the integers and letters scrambled, the children found themselves adrift as to what to do, but they knew better than to say anything about it. Egalitarianism is often an interesting thing in practice.

The child that told us this is a perfectly intelligent and well-adjusted kid, and I questioned him closely about this because it seemed so fantastic, but I was ultimately convinced that he was telling the truth. I also noticed that he looked both ways, furtively, before speaking, as if someone would overhear what was said, even though it was said in a place that no one with any connection to the school could possibly be. I recognized it as the unconscious cringe of the beat dog when the paperboy makes a delivery.

So maybe I'm wrong, and nothing much has changed. Children are all still thrown together for their own good, to test their mettle among a crowd of their peers -- but it's now a race now to see who can walk backwards the slowest. The trophy doesn't shine, but at least it doesn't have any sharp edges.


misterarthur said...

When the lad was a tad, he participated in "T-ball". They didn't keep track of outs. Or runs (officially). Everyone batted. Then they changed sides. Everyone on the other team batted. This process continued until a certain number of innings had been played. Everyone got a trophy. For real hammer and tong competition, though, you can't beat a Pinewood Derby Cub Scout fiesta. I've seen fistfights almost erupt (among the Dads).

Leslie said...

My eldest is quite gifted physically,and a more competitive boy has never been born. In Arizona, a homeschooled child is allowed to participate in any school activity that is competitive, that is, if you have to "try out" to participate. He was on the soccer and golf teams all 4 years, even though he didn't go to school. His Senior year, he was unofficially made the captain of the soccer team, not by the coach, but, because he became the leader of the team naturally. He didn't have a beat dog mentality. He graduated from our school with 6 varsity letters from the local high school, 3 in soccer and 3 in golf.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi misterarthur- I am a T-ball coaching survivor, myself. ***shudder***

Hi Leslie- Thanks for reading and commenting.

Our older boy plays on the soccer team at the local high school. He has a wonderful time and everyone is quite nice to him.

Casey Klahn said...

Now that my son is almost ready for school sports, I am made aware that it isn't sports anymore. Wow. I'll have to calculate that paradigm shift. The Klahn bloodline is thin and my grade school days were in the Sixties. Let's not call that a paradigm shift, let's call it a whole different world.

dadofhomeschoolers said...

I've always maintained that socialization is not throwing your offspring into an institution with 25 to 30 creatures just like them for the time that would normally be for learning something useful.
We starting homeschooling the first when he came home crying wondering if he should mark answers wrong so the kids would like him.
We pulled the second out of organized sports when it became apparent that the organizers would demand over 30 hours/week and hundreds of miles of driving.
The first is now in electrical engineering school, and the second is in much demand as a sound tech.

Dennis said...

Socialization! My kids are grown but we homeschooled them the whole trip. People came up with the "s" word who'd never said it before when talking about home schooling. I liked to suggest giving a group of 13 year-olds the car keys and see how they do at teaching each other to drive.