This one gets long, but it’s easy reading. Nothing too deep here. Chris asked some homeschooling questions, and I’m going to take a shot at aswering them. I’m abbreviating homeschool(ed) as HS, public or private school(ed) as PS. (I realize there’s a huge difference between public school and private Christian, but for this particular issue, they’re pretty much equivalent.)
Here’s Chris’s question:
Have you ever heard the thought promoted that homeschooling children can often (although not always) hinder their interaction with other youth of their age? Not that they cannot get along, but that with us as their teachers or primary interactants (those who have children in this situation) they are often forced to grow up too fast (for lack of a better term) in some aspects due to a primarily adult environment and cannot relate as fully to other youth, or that their social relation skills are devoid of some of those skills or norms common to their fellow youth?
One thing that amazes me is that the American public generally accepts without question the things we were taught in school. At some point, it has become an almost universal belief that one cannot get an education without being schooled. (Myth #1)
The second myth is that children must be with others their own age in order to develop properly. Until the past century or so, children were NEVER artificially segregated into age groups. Where else in society does this happen except in a school? And is it healthy? Who do we want our children to emulate–another child or an adult? To put it another way, who do we want them to become? Because children do learn what they live. So I would like to present the idea that in order for a child to grow to godly adulthood, it is imperative that he/she be exposed to godly adults! That doesn’t rule out playtime with other children, but think of all the things you learned from your friends. Were they all accurate? Were they all good? Did they build you up? (Phil. 4:8) PS, by design, herds children together for a major part of the day. Children will learn at least as much from the other kids as they will from the teacher.
Children can also be cruel. If a child is different in any significant way, there is a very good possibility that they will find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, which can make a huge difference in their entire life. (read Frank Peretti’s book The Wounded Spirit )
I realize that doesn’t answer the question, but it’s a basic belief of mine to show where I’m coming from. Now, do HS children sometimes not know how to relate to other kids? Yes. I think that’s possible, if the other kids are PS. Honestly, we don’t have much contact with PS children, but when we do, I haven’t noticed any awkwardness. However, I know that it can sometimes be an issue. Generally, it’s a matter of HS kids not knowing what’s “cool” (which matters not at all to me) or not knowing how to play team sports (which I see as one of the very few drawbacks to HS.)
In general, HS children are much better able to relate to people of all age levels, since they haven’t been shut up into same-age classes for years. PS kids, on the other hand, are often unable to converse with an adult and sometimes don’t know how to relate to small children, which can be a handicap.
As for “growing up too fast,” I think the actual situation is that children in general are growing up more and more slowly. Think about it. At one time, a 13 yr old boy was considered a man and expected to do a man’s work. In early America, most children were finished with their education in 8 years. What most people don’t realize is that an 8th grade education in that day was a good deal superior to what our educational system produces in 12! Most college freshmen could not answer a lot of the questions from last century’s 8th grade test.
So is it possible that HS kids, rather than growing up “too fast” are actually just growing up at a normal rate, while other children are staying children longer? Why have we accepted the idea that a 16 yr old is “just a kid?” They are adult-sized, their brains have fully developed, so why do we not expect them to grow up?
I could write another page on that one, but not now!
If you’re truly interested in this, I would recommend this book, or his other book Dumbing Us Down, or if you just want an overview, check out Mr. Gatto’s speech when he accepted the NY State Teacher of the Year Award in 1991. It’s quite eye-opening! He resigned shortly afterwards.