School Socialisation is Addictive
by Beverley Paine
No one hangs out with people all the same age year after year for 12-15 years, or didn't until compulsory education arrived only a dozen generations ago.
Because of our own school socialising experiences and those of our parents and their parents it is hard for us to feel okay about allowing our children to socialise differently.
We were taught that not having special or 'best' friends our own age means we are social failures. We're taught that the more special friends our own age we have the more successful we are: success based on popularity.
Because school is a competitive environment based on comparison the values upon which friendships are based are often distorted. For example, if our best friend this year is placed in another class next year we are no longer friends and don't hang out with each other during lunch and recess times, and possibly even after school. It's difficult to maintain the close relationship and we're expected to have friends within our own class.
School socialisation is based on the amount of time we spend with our friends. The frequency with which we are together with our friends is considered very important to maintaining those friendships. Constant companionship is reassuring because it proves loyalty which is more important than shared interests or personality.
Keeping up with the latest fashion and trends are important too. If one of our friends can't afford or her parents won't let her keep up with the latest fad then, in order to protect our 'image', we drift away from that friendship. It isn't socially good for us to be seen hanging out with 'losers'. We won't win the popularity contest that socialisation has become if we do...
In the early years of school the bond between the child and the family (parents and siblings) need to be undermined so that the teacher and principal and school can replace the natural authority and responsibility of the family in order to manage large numbers of children.
Break that natural loyalty and the ties to family and you create additional consumers down the track, fodder for the 'economy'. In traditional societies where family bonds remain intact people - whole communities - share and recycle amongst themselves expensive resources. Economic 'growth' isn't the imperative that drives those societies.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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