Golly, I seem to be playing devil's advocate today.
Joel C, on 19 January 2012 - 10:51 AM, said:
Well, let's put into perspective that a third isn't even a majority of the homeschooled individuals surveyed, and that even the people in that third weren't unified in answering the same way. I'd be interested to see the ways in which people would feel about their socialization in public school, but unlike homeschooling, there don't seem to be many studies available to reference.
It's not a majority, but it's a healthy minority. I don't know how it is in Canada, but in the U.S. there seems to be a significant problem with people over-reporting their own happiness and minimizing levels of distress. If you factor that in, the numbers at least suggest that the socialization concern isn't just a bogeyman that can be exorcised by quoting a few statistics/survey-type studies.
Actually, the studies are saying different things. If we just take ethnicity as a reference point for a moment, one is showing the actual percentage breakdown of the entire homeschool population, and the 2007 census numbers you're quoting are showing the percent of homeschooled children in each ethnicity compared with school-aged children in that ethnicity as a whole.
Actually, they're not. The second link addresses the question "how many children are homeschooled?" and has this to say:
More White students were homeschooled than Black or Hispanic students or students from other racial/ethnic groups, and White students constituted the majority of homeschooled students (77 percent). White students (3.9 percent) had a higher homeschooling rate than Blacks (0.8 percent) and Hispanics (1.5 percent), but were not measurably different from students from other racial/ethnic groups (3.4 percent).
That's pretty much exactly what the previously-quoted section says: "Home schooled children are more likely to be non-Hispanic White, they are likely to live in households headed by a married couple with moderate to high levels of education and income, and are likely to live in a household with an adult not in the labor force."
The link I put in at the bottom--the demographic stuff--wasn't added because it did anything at all for my point. I just wanted to get some general data in there for the heck of it.
In the census survey, the ethnic breakdown actually diversifies fairly significantly from 1994 to 1999. White children drop down to 71% from 91%, the percentage of hispanics doubled, and the percentage of blacks nearly tripled. The more mainstream homeschooling becomes, the more diverse it will become as well.
Sure. The question then becomes how much these groups will interact. Unfortunately, the studies don't seem to address the question.
However, I do want to drop back and make a point I was going to make earlier, but had thought against it for the sake of avoiding a long argument. People make a big deal about homeschooling diversity, but there are some very troubling problems in the public school system as well. In my mind, a socially-diverse school setting—if such a thing can even be found by most parents—does not a diversity-friendly child make. It presumes that interaction alone will sort things out.
It doesn't, really, presume anything of the kind. It does
suggest that a diverse environment is more helpful
for producing diversity-friendly kids.
It's also based on the presumption that a majority of schools will not only have a diverse makeup (which is increasingly not the case as schools become economically segregated
), but also that such a school would do a good job in helping a child synthesize
those differences in a meaningful and mature way.
 There are problems with school systems in the U.S. Part of the decision i/r/t home- private- or public-schooling involves looking at the local schools and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.
 No child is going to synthesize anything in a meaningful or mature way. Their brains aren't even done cooking until the college level. Schools can
take measures to make sure that difference is respected--by cracking down on bullying and so on. That, however, takes us far afield of the subject at hand.
I'm not saying that by turns, it's therefore easy to provide a diverse environment for a child other places. It's hard in any setting. However, I personally tend to think that there are plenty of ways to expose a child to different economic, racial and religious backgrounds than their own, besides putting them in a school environment. A parent who is invested in such interactions themselves have the potential to draw their children into a much deeper and profound understanding of race/income/religious differences than simply putting them in a school setting.
Sure. But if (for instance) you live in a state where you're required to have a covering, aren't you more likely to seek out like-minded people? So we have Christian groups (probably middle-class and white, almost certainly heteronormative) and atheist/nonreligious groups. If I'm involving my kid in activities mandated by the covering, they're almost certainly going to be interacting with people just like themselves.
If the home doesn't reflect the values of interacting with diversity in a meaningful way, then any lessons learned in an outside environment will likely be wasted, and any problems with classism, racism, income inequity or any other kind of injustice experienced in a school setting will only have the potential to be widened.
Doubtful. The home environment is important, but the phenomenon of rebellion that occurs during the teen years suggests that it's not a determining factor. School can just as easily be a way of escaping a bad home life (though that's obviously not an issue for the folks considering home-schooling here). Besides--if you actually interact with someone of another race it's harder to maintain bigoted opinions (racism and classism--as social-structure issues--are better addressed in the previous point i/r/t declining diversity).
All of this is pretty far afield, though. The point I was trying to make isn't that public schooling is to be preferred--it's that homeschooling has its own set of unique challenges.
Persiflage, on 19 January 2012 - 01:22 PM, said:
I've always found the socialization objection to homeschooling meaningless. How involved your family is in the community and how many different sorts of friends (from all different walks of life) your child makes entirely depends upon the parents and the individual child, no matter what type of schooling you are engaged in at the time.
I think I mentioned that my own family isn't known for joining things. I tried 4-H and was bored out of my skull. But my point in bringing up the socialization quote was to point out that a significant number of homeschooled individuals (myself included) do
feel that they missed out on certain kinds of social interactions, and it's the sort of thing one wants to keep in mind when considering the issue. (FWIW, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the most unhappy kids came from the most protectionist/regressive homes).
When my brothers and I were homeschooling, we still played on so many different sports teams (city leagues and public school teams, many of whom will let you in if you can win a spot on the team) that we always had a large number of other friends (even outside the homeschooling community). Playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer all year round, with a father who coached teams with other dads, we didn't have a problem being sheltered or "protected" from the outside world.
...which underlines the point about the socialization issue being very individualistic. I never played sports (except a brief stint at a baseball camp) and I felt little desire to interact with other people. That's fine and all--but as a result, I tend to not maintain social relationships as well as I should. This isn't directly because of my education, but I don't think it helped
But it wasn't just sports - one of the advantages of my homeschooling years was getting to work jobs that my schedule didn't allow during my non-homeschooling years. You make friends on the job. You make friends if you regularly attend a church. You make friends with all the other kids your age in the neighborhood. You make friends in within the homeschooling networking community. You make friends when your parents take you to other events in the local community.
Finally, the problem of some kids not having social skills existed during the years I spent in the homeschooling community and the years I spent in private and public school. Some of us were good at socializing. Some of us were not. In other words, socialization is only going to be a problem particular to homeschooling unless your parents are protectionist reclusives or just plain crazy. Instead, socialization is going to always be a problem for some (the shy, the outcasts, the uncool), and a test of character for everyone else when deciding how to treat them.
I don't know how a shy person might feel being characterized as a "test of character," but these points are well taken.
Also, by the way, bullying and peer pressure exists with any group of children, anywhere, period. Human nature is the same no matter what type of school your kids attend. One of the worst bullies I met as a little kid was another homeschooled kid. So you're not going "protect" your children from bullying by homeschooling them, unless you just forbid them to hang around with any other children.
Yes, there's a protectionist "religious right" element within homeschooling. And yes, they may even still be a majority (they certainly were in the '80s and '90s). But if your family is actually not shut off from the rest of the world, then all that rhetoric isn't going to matter when your children meet and make friends with other children. I had homeschooling friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents. I had public school friends who were socially awkward and sheltered and the blame lay 100% with their parents.
This is key, and it's why I'm trying not to get too broad in my arguments here. I don't get the impression that anyone on-board here who homeschools/wishes to homeschool is a protectionist. Obviously not. The homeschooling community is pretty varied (even if it's not exactly "diverse") and broad arguments and statistics simply don't apply to individuals. In the end, it's up to the parent and their understanding of what's best for the child.
Edited by NBooth, 19 January 2012 - 02:32 PM.