Many parents to whom I have spoken say they would not mind homeschooling their children if it were not the benefits of peer socialization gained in schools.  “How else are they to learn how to get along with others”?  seems to be the universal refrain.

There are many that think this is a misconception.  Socialization in schools may actually be the reason why society is trying to wrestle with the problem of delinquency and crime.   Maybe the words of early 18th century novelist, Henry Fielding, might be a bit strong when he wrote: “Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.”  However, it contains a great deal of truth.  Children learn many negative traits in schools.  The horror stories are endless and real; from simple bad habits to bullying, theft, extortion and rape …and this is just primary school.  My wife is a teacher at a rural school in north Trinidad, where most of the children come from poor families and it is sad to hear what transpires.  To some extent, I do agree with the Mighty Shadow’s comment that “Poverty is hell’.  This hell is of course not caused by the poverty itself, but by the attendant psychological issues which somehow always seems to imbue the poorer classes.

Anyway back to the point of socialization.  One parent who is a good friend of my friend, both of them having gone to Tunapuna Secondary in the mid-seventies, recently pointed out that how he made great and lasting friendships in school.  And that he would not want to take that away from his children.  To parents who agree let me quote myself from elsewhere on this site, “Sure you made some great friends. So do prisoners of war in an enemy prison. Their friends were all they had.  And in school, friends may be the only way our children can cope, because we, as parents, have ABANDONDED them”.   Is it any wonder then when our children begin to trust their friends more than us.  Rebellion to their parents it is not a truly ‘normal’ teenage thing.  We have been led to believe that it is and many psychologists have even developed strategies to help parents cope, but this is not how it is supposed to be or how it always was.  In many primitive tribes from the Bush People of the Kalahari to the Yanomami of the Amazon as well as among many South Pacific ‘primitives’ teenage rebelliousness is unknown.  I do not recommend that we harken back to ancient times as I am sure the closed-minded amongst us would criticise this line of thought, but am just making an observation.

To illustrate what school socialization can do to children, just take a maxi taxi down the Priority Bus Route between San Juan and Arima between the hours of 2:30 and 3:30 pm.  (If you don’t like rubbing shoulders with the masses  you can drive now.  Jack has legalized it just make sure you have at least three in the car and it’s between the correct times :) )  Look at how our secondary school children behave.  Look and think…

Below is a post that I had posted earlier in another homeschooling forum, but is worth repeating here:

The socialization thing bothered me a bit so I did some research, both third party and by direct observation. What has emerged is that children can experience negative socialization in schools. For instance, in public schools they can learn to push and compete in a negative and overly aggressive manner (I call this the Cafeteria Effect), while in the ‘upscale’ private schools they may assimilate false values (the We Have a Bigger Pool Than You All effect). I think sufficient positive socialization can be achieved by visiting the public playgrounds with your kids as well as arranging private gatherings such as BBQs where they can interact with other children, not necessarily all of the same age group.

Two weeks ago, while my wife was abroad, my two girls and I (4 and 6) spent a week-end at a beach house in Balandra with three other families. One family had two girls ages 9 and 12, and another had girl twins 8 years old. One couple had no kids. Their interaction was fantastic. The 12 year old assumed the role of mother; the 9 year old became the swimming instructor; and the twins, normally very reticent, became quite gregarious. My girls soaked it all up and had a great time. It was also great for the grown-ups – we had time off 

My girls also learnt about the Nintendo DSi console. I am normally an anti-computer gaming person, but when I saw the educational benefits of this device with it’s built in cameras and photo editing capabilites, I immediately got them one each. It’s been great. I plan to do a lot more of this. For those with older children, the best way your kids can learn is by trying to teach others. I know, I used to teach I.T. At UWI and it worked for me with adults there. It also worked for American innovativeness – think small town, one room schools in the Prairie States and you will understand. It’s where the innovators of today’s parents were raised.

Below are links  to some sites that have musch more to say on this topic:

This one is annectdotal,  a bit funny fand particularly instructive:

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