I avoid articles about public schools because they are not ‘about’ homeschooling, but sometimes one comes along that begs for inclusion.
This article is about a formerly-homeschooled boy whose parents were called in on the second day of school for a conference with the teacher. The problem? The boy is chatty.
Ms. Lopez Moves Brandon’s Seat, 10 September 2007, New Haven Independent, Connecticut
Fifth-grader Brandon was experiencing some “issues” as he adjusted from last year’s home schooling to the demanding social and academic routines of Amistad Academy. The school called his parents, Fred and Susan Hogan, to come in. Ten minutes later, they were at the school’s offices.
Before the first week of school wound down, the Hogans had received a call from Brandon’s math teacher that his skill levels were very good indeed in that area, but the chattiness was continuing. So they decided to visit the classroom.
I do not question the boy’s parent enrolling him in school. That is none of my business. What I do question, is the fascination of non-homeschoolers with the ‘socialization’ of homeschoolers, but yet finding a chatty child newsworthy. I understand that this is one article, from one community and is not, in itself, indicative of all attitudes across the nation. I also think I see reassurance for the community that the school is well-run. Still, the article’s focus on a sociable young man indicates to me the oddness of what passes for acceptable ‘socialization.’
I do understand the need for order in a large-group situation. Trying to do something meaningful in a roomful of talking children is difficult, if not impossible. I used to be an elementary school lunch room monitor, I know how loud the kids can get. In a personnel ‘shakeup’ (among me, Dixie, Sharon and Sheila — I think Sheila had difficulty with the cold because of her arthritis) the principal ‘transferred’ me out to the playground, in winter in Munich, Germany. I was pleased because then the children’s noise floated off into the air. Strolling outside in the cold was much pleasanter for me than being deafened indoors by children starting a sugar high fueled by drink box drinks and HoHos.
Despite my experience with the need for large-group control, I now believe that the mass-schooling model has given us a dysfunctional understanding of childhood ‘socialization.’ In general, and worldwide, it is accepted that enforced periods of silence relieved by one or two fifteen or twenty minute periods of activity with same-aged people in the recreation yard, otherwise known as the playground, over roughly nine months of the year, for perhaps half of the usual thirteen years of compulsory schooling, is seen as ‘socialization,’ but those same thirteen years spent in conversation, free movement and interaction with people of all ages are not. It’s all backwards.
I know that pointing out the emperor’s free and breezy sartorial condition won’t change anything, but I hope that spelling out my experience will give someone, somewhere, comfort about their homeschooled children’s ‘socialization.’
I also hope young Brandon’s school year goes well, and that he makes lots of friends to talk with.
posted by Valerie