I love this post by Aaron Smith about why homeschool parents are entrepreneurial. It’s a great way to look at homeschooling because in the 90’s when I launched my first startup, most people thought I was a hopeless loser and unemployed. Now we celebrate business entrepreneurship, but it makes sense to me that parent entrepreneurship is the next frontier, and, of course, people think it’s hopelessly misguided and the kids are not learning.
So that analysis by itself makes Smith’s post worth a read. But he also talks about socialization in a really interesting way.
For example, Smith points out that 2.7 million kids are on medication for attention disorders, and this is largely the result of school needing to socialize kids (boys, mostly) who do not fit into the mold of what kids should be doing all day (to prepare for factory work, mostly, but that’s another story).
Also, Smith links to data about how homeschooled kids are more likely to vote and participate in community service. Which seem like fine indicators of whether someone is attached to society at large.
And then I started thinking that when people talk about socialization, they tend to talk about social skills. But we know from Asperger’s research that social skills are innate. Each of us is born knowing how to pick up social skills, and if you are not able to pick up social skills by osmosis then you have a brain disorder.
So when we talk about how school socializes kids, we are really talking about how school makes kids care for the community beyond their own family. And then, if you go back to Smith’s data, it appears that socialization is measurable, and homeschoolers are outperforming kids in classrooms.
This makes sense. Classrooms teach kids to do what the teacher tells them and receive individual praise as a result of following the rules. But caring for society in a larger way is mostly about what looks like pissing away time. Voting, for example, is largely symbolic and you do not get a gold star for doing it. Working at a soup kitchen has no goal attached to it, and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to measure if you are good at it.
So what I’m thinking now is that we can measure socialization by how much someone is willing to forgo the opportunity to have personal, measurable achievement in the name of doing something for society.
And, to be honest, I’m not great at this and I’m not great at teaching my kids this. But I do drag them with me to vote. And maybe, in the process of socializing my own kids, I will finally become less achievement-oriented and more socialized myself.