I have a friend I have known since elementary school. Great guy. Smart, successful, interesting. Also one of the oddest ducks you’ll ever meet. Back then and now.
He is married with children. His wife and kids are also odd, in just about the same ways and same ratio as my friend. He and his wife and all their children (who are now adults) attended public school.
No one ever, ever says,
Wow. Why did you send them to public school? Weren’t you worried about socialization?
Because — and here’s the kicker — no one ever blames public school for turning out weird kids. They blame the parents.
Turn now to homeschooled kids. Anything that isn’t profoundly “normal” (as if this is the single most important “character trait” we are going for) is immediately linked to the fact that the child isn’t institutionalized for 180 days per year for 13 years straight. (As if that’s the most compelling case for turning out healthy, functioning adults.) They don’t notice that a single homeschool family might have a mix of socially adept kids and shy kids (like “normal” families). They don’t notice notice that homeschooled kids are odd in the same ways their parents are odd (like “normal” families). They don’t notice that there is a reason I have repeatedly held parties with up to 70 homeschooled teens in my home (something I’d never do with “normal” teens), and the reason is that they are generally remarkably civil and loads of fun.
As I’ve said before, socialization is an excruciatingly dumb reason to send kids to public school. There might be some good reasons — although I see less evidence of this every year — but this one is downright stupid and shows strong symptoms of denying the obvious.
In my own family of six homeschooled kids, they lie all across the “socialization” spectrum between overtly extroverted to extremely shy (and in between). Any oddities you might see can generally be traced either to me, to Sam, or to — wait for it — lousy experiences they’ve had with public schooled kids. (You can just read that as bullying.) Same applies to pretty much every homeschooling family I’ve ever met. (And I’ve met hundreds and hundreds.)
Now that we’ve cleared up all that mythical nonsense, I’ll try to answer those of you still left with a sincere question about socialization with my own question:
What do you mean by socialization? And how does public school optimally provide it?
P.S. In case you’re wondering. No, that is not one of my kids in the photo. And he’s not a homeschooler.