Kriston wrote:

>Human beings don't argue when we know we're right. Then we shrug, say "You're wrong," and let it go. We argue when we feel insecure.

Speak for yourself, Kriston! Me � I�ll argue about anything, though I prefer the phrase the diplomats use: �an open and frank exchange of views.�

Seriously, I actually do agree with Socrates and the other ancient philosophers that the best way to clarify your own ideas and find the errors in your own thoughts is often to seek out someone with different ideas and frankly explore the reasons for your differences. That of course does not excuse treating people with whom you disagree with disrespect or contempt; however, it is going to occasionally result in some bruised feelings (how would you like having Socrates prove to everyone that your ideas were confused and muddled?).

You know, in mathematics, the word �argument� is still used to mean a forthright presentation of your reasons for a conclusion combined with a cogent response to all possible rational objections. I know that, in contemporary English, �argument� often means a shouting match, but it doesn�t have to be.

Personally, I do find that I am understanding my own views better through these discussions: you know the old saying � I never know what I think until I hear what I have to say.

You�re of course correct that I do not claim to be speaking for all homeschoolers � I do think that there are many homeschoolers who largely agree with me on the �socialization� issue, but I doubt that any homeschooler agrees with me on everything (I�m not sure I agree with myself on everything).

And, you�re also absolutely correct that I and many homeschoolers are drawing a distinction between �socialization� and �being social�: my dictionary defines �socialize� as �to adapt or make conform to the common needs of a social group.�


You remember the scene in �A Wrinkle in Time� where the one little boy is bouncing his ball out of step with everyone else and his mother is terrified? To me, that is the most horrifying scene in literature.

I�m not just ethically and philosophically opposed to �socialization� (in the sense my dictionary defines the term): I�ve hated it viscerally since I was eight-years-old and I still hate it now.

Now that I�ve expressed my dispassionate, objective feelings on the subject�

You wrote:
>But unlike Dave, I don't want my kids to be blind to social cues. Even peer pressure I want my kids to see and understand for what it is. I want my kids to be well-liked in groups and in one-on-one interactions because I know the value of those interactions.

Sure. I do want my kids to be sensitive to when they are hurting other people�s feelings, to when they are making others uncomfortable, etc., and I try to be sensitive in those ways myself. Sometimes, there are good reasons why you need to hurt someone�s feelings, but you should never do it blindly.

I was trying to express something a bit different � not sensitivity to other individuals� feelings but rather sensitivity to the demands of the group to conform.

For example, my wife and mom tell me that the current style in female attire is to wear rather tight-fitting clothes. One of the adolescents in my family is following that style, and, according to my wife and mom, she looks horrible in it. (I�m relying on my mom�s and wife�s reporting here; like most guys, I�m quite clueless about fashion in clothes.)

Now, I�m not complaining about my wife�s and mom�s having noticed this fashion change. I don�t necessarily want my kids to be blind to such things (though I think it is okay if they are). But I would like my kids to be insensitive to such things in the sense that they stand back from them, view them coolly, and decide for themselves whether it works for them, rather than having the emotional feeling that they �have� to follow the trend because �everyone� is doing it.

It�s in that sense that I would like my kids to be, as I said:
> a bit blind to all of those little social cues and pressures that cause most people to fall in line with the �group,� whether what the group is doing is good or not.

I�d like them to have, compared to most people, less well-developed �antennae� that tell you that you must conform to other people�s style and behavior in every silly little detail.

Note that I did say �a bit blind� not totally. I do understand that it is generally not a good idea to show up at you best friend�s wedding in a tank-top and cutoffs, and I wear a coat and tie to job interviews (and I hate ties).

You and I may be in agreement here: I�m just trying to clarify my point.

I know that some people do go through the public schools (my wife and I and probably a number of people on this board) and manage to escape this tendency to blind conformity that I find so abhorrent. But watching most of my classmates when I was in school, and watching most of the young adolescents I know now, I do notice that most adolescents (and the majority of adults) seem to succumb to all this. Put a human being in a large group of humans his or her own age for 30-40 hours a week, and this seems to be the normal result: those of us who do not develop in this way seem to be outliers.

Aside from my own emotional reaction to �socialization,� I do think, in objective terms, that this is the basis for an awful lot of things that I think have catastrophic and horrifying effects � racism, ethnic chauvinism, nationalism, religious faith, militarism, trust in government, etc.

Anyway, I hope this clarifies where I am coming from. Of course, I am not opposed to �being social� or to treating other humans beings with kindness and courtesy, but I am opposed to �socialization� in the dictionary sense and in the sense that most adolescents in our society who attend traditional schools are �socialized.� People who share my perspective are likely to find this a good reason for homeschooling � it is not of course a reason to cut your kids off from social interaction in general.

All the best,


Last edited by PhysicistDave; 03/18/08 04:13 PM. Reason: correcting typo