Friday, September 28, 2007

Stereotypes

Homeschoolers have plenty of stereotypes thrown around about them. In our own circles we have the different types of schooling. Here are some that I've seen... The unschoolers who of course do nothing. The textbook users who only use textbooks and are trying to recreate a traditional school setting. We have those that plan out their lessons and follow a rigorous schedule, they aren't flexible at all and their kids always go to college when they are 7 years old. We have homeschoolers that give the rest of us a bad name (whoever they may be). I could go on but I think you get the point.

From the outside we have those stereotypes that say we are all hermits who are hiding our children at home. These kids never see the light of day and are unsocialized. We've all heard the dreaded question, "What about socialization?" from those outside of the homeschooling world. The answer most people throw at them is that there are park days, field trips, boy/girl scouts, sports, co-op classes, college classes, support groups, church youth groups, 4H, etc. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even that is a stereotype. In our quest to prove to the world that our kids are socialized we are assuming they need any and all of those opportunities not to become what everyone else thinks they are. By listing all those things, what are we saying about those homeschoolers who either aren't involved in any of those thing or don't have access to groups and classes and such? I think we are giving the impression that those who aren't involved in outside activities of some sort are still unsocialized hermits. Maybe these are the homeschoolers who give the rest of us a bad name...

Our family falls into this category. We aren't involved in much of anything. I used to shy away from these things because I didn't feel comfortable and the groups I happened to find were too much into religious beliefs that didn't match mine and wanted me to believe the same way they did. Now we don't have access to any of these things because of where we live and the fact that we only have one vehicle. I can't even pull out that old favorite that the kids are out in the world with me when we go shopping because I don't do the shopping anymore! What I've realized is that this doesn't make the kids any less socialized. We haven't turned into the dreaded hermits that people must imagine when they ask about socialization. We still talk to one another, have conversations about politics or current events, and once in awhile talk to other people on the phone. When we do go out the kids don't stick out like aliens with 2 heads, they can still speak and be polite (although that does tend to make them stick out a bit). With school just having started up people's favorite question is, "What grade are you going into?" Followed by, "What school do you attend?" They wouldn't bother asking if our kids stuck out like unsocialized hermits because they would automatically know that we must homeschool. They always seem to be surprised that we do this homeschooling thing. We must not look like what everyone assumes homeschoolers look like. I have a hunch that homeschoolers don't look like anything specific. Of course most of us homeschooling moms wear denim jumpers with Birkenstocks and have long hair...

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Didn't I mention that I cut my hair? ;)

I hope I didn't hurt your feelings with my post the other day. I really need to reword it. No, I dont' see anything wrong with staying home AT ALL. I treasure the days we get to stay here and putter. I just don't like it when people think that's the only way to hs.

Although I like our land, I would either like to move somewhere a little farther away and more isolated so we aren't close enough to keep up our old suburban activities or actually move into town. We just didn't move far enough out to cut the apron strings, you know?

Kim said...

No hurt feelings at all, these are thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for awhile and I finally decided to post them.

I knew what you meant it was just a jumping off point. I've found myself defending homeschooling by mentioning all the opportunities for socialization many times but our recent circumstances have just made me more aware of the alternatives.

elephantschild said...

Kim, thanks for posting on this topic. Just recently I've been fretting about my kid a bit. See, she doesn't have siblings, which sometimes (in my worst moments) makes me worry about the phantom "socialization" when I know I shouldn't!

We're not involved in the AMOUNT of stuff that homeschoolers are always assumed to be involved in, either. For us, it's because we all go totally bonkers if we're gone from home that much! Lack of money enters into it, as well.

In my best moments, I just shrug and realise that a week at summer camp when she's 13 or so will teach her how to negotiate bathroom usage, etc.

Norman Teigen said...

I am very receptive to the idea of home schooling. The responsibility for the education of the children is the parent/s. Parents who decide to home school should trust themselves and their own good judgment.

I work as a volunteer historical interpreter in a Minneapolis museum. I am very impressed with the quality of the questions that home school students ask me.

I am sometimes disappointed when a large group of school students force me to become a crowd- control- guy more than an interpreter.

God bless you and your family.