Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Socialization without community?

Mark T. Mitchell, Homeschooling and Socialization (see also Ashley Trim's Waiting for Superman, and a Real Conversation)

Some thoughts, not especially related to Mr. Mitchell's post -- do schools do anything to promote stable relationships, as opposed to superficial relationships based on emotion? Can they do anything, when whether families stay located in an area or not is out of their control? At best schools can help students acquire the social virtues, and learn how to be friends to others. The burden of socialization falls upon everyone in a community, not on the schools, and our problem is that we do not have real communities.

Children need to learn how to get along with others, tolerate their weaknesses, bear with their failings, accept their quirks, and so on. It seems to me that these lessons can be better taught through a close-knit homeschooling network than through [public] schools, where relationships are more "voluntary" or "intentional" in nature. It might be objected that friendship is always voluntary, and you cannot force someone to be friends with another person. While this is the case with intimate friendships, it is not the case with all forms of friendship. It is we moderns who have an impoverished notion of friendship (and of love) -- some friendships are not chosen, and we must do the best we can in living up to our part. Civic friendship is an example -- only those who are cut off from the community for grave reason (or socially isolated as a form of punishment) should be denied civic friendship.

This would seem to indicate that homeschooling networks are more than just groups for rote learning -- they help in the "integral formation" of the individual. Schools, on the other hand,
are praised if they can merely do their purported job well -- helping students master certain intellectual skills. Hence I find claims by defenders of mass education (and the public education system) about socialization rather exaggerated.

How easy it is for us to stop being friends with someone merely because they displease us in some way. Our understanding of friendship is often tied to narcissism or disordered self-love. All social relationships are reduced to a voluntary association between individuals (except for family, but even familial relationships are tenuous these days if not through deliberate malice than through neglect in the pursuit of the Uhmerican Dream).

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