Thursday, July 14, 2005

Home Schoolers And Life

A favorite topic of mine is the home school movement in America (it is also growing all around the world, but I want to focus on America in this article). I personally know many home schoolers. Some of them are my best friends.

And thus, I hear, on a regular basis, an age old fear that unenlightened and ignorant people (also known as liberals) have about home schoolers. They fear that home schoolers are not socialized enough. Of course, we all know their real fear is that these home schoolers do not use government run education, but that is a different topic.

Socialization is a question that home schoolers hear on a regular basis, especially by those who do not understand home schooling. The questions come in a variety of different forms, but from what I have been able to summarize from asking people, they all boil down into the following exchange:

“Hey Anna (home schooled), so do you have any friends?” Mitch asks.
Anna has to think about it for a minute, for she has heard this question many times before, and wants to respond in the clearest way possible, “Of course, I do.”
“But how can you make friends without going to school?” Mitch, quite perplexed, continues.
“The same way you do, I get involved in activities and just meet people.”
“Mmhmm, well, I guess that could work.”

That quote comes from the combined experiences of 99.99% of home schoolers. People find it very hard to believe that students who are tutored at home could ever become socialized, opinionated, and have the ability to assert themselves.

How can we prove, then, that home schoolers are indeed socialized? Researchers have viewed socialization through the lens of a person’s self-concept. That means that the higher a person’s self-concept, the better. The studies show that home schoolers are as proud of themselves as their peers. However, being proud of one’s self does not mean you are socialized.

How then do we measure how well a persona has been socialized? A good way to do such a thing is to see how well home schoolers participate in their communities compared to how well their peers in government run institutions do. I have written an article on this topic called, The Power Of The Home. Go to that article so see what I found when it comes to home schoolers and their participation in the political process.

The best way, however, to prove that home schoolers are socialized as good or better than their government school peers is to study their social skills.

Sadly, there has not been a tremendous amount of study in this area (I wonder if that has been done on purpose?). A very reputable study, however, has emerged. David J. Francis, a psychologist with the Saranac Lake Central School District in New York, and Timothy Z. Keith, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas, have both done studies on home schoolers and their government school peers.

The study took 34 home schoolers and 34 government school students and compared the two groups. They used the standard procedures to assure that very little bias existed in the study.

The method used to study the two groups was the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). The study measured self-control, assertiveness, responsibility, cooperation, externalizing, internalizing, and hyperactivity in both groups.
What was the result of this study? The home schoolers were no different than their counterparts in the government school in the areas of cooperation, assertiveness, and responsibility. In fact, home schoolers scored higher than their counterparts in the area of self-control.

Well, it appears that as far as we can tell, home schoolers are not unsocialized. Of course, the absolute best way to know this is not to look at studies, but to get to know some home schoolers (that is going to be easy, since home schooling is growing rapidly). You will see that they are indeed equal to their government school peers, and much smarter on average than their peers. Looks like the Left got it wrong again.

Your favorite snowboarder and political guru!!!

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