Monday, 8 February 2010

Did we socialise?

If you've come to this blog before, you've encountered the s-word.

Get thee gone, Mr Spooky, seeking sexy pigeon. Here is the s-word in the world of home education.

The first question I asked, the last doubt I harboured, was socialisation. How will my kids socialise? Will they be able to socialise? Don't kids go to school to be socialised properly?

On that last point, I worried. I know that socialisation takes a particular form in schools. Kids are told to shut up, sit down, listen. If the kids work their way round that, then yes, they talk with each other. They may establish pecking orders, or create a hierarchy of the classroom. People are assigned labels. The clown. The shy one. The geek. The swot. Is that socialisation?

Groups of types will form. People hardwire into those groups, and it's difficult to break out. Kids carry them through the playground - perhaps to describe a personal identity; to create a community; to protect themselves in a large crowd. Some groups want to dominate and extract signals of submission. Is that socialisation?

Then there are large crowds - assemblies, fire drills, all the routine large pack systems - what is socialisation here? Is it knowing when you can whisper to get away with it? Try and subvert the authority. Try and redefine the event on your own terms. Try and not be a number, when you are a number. Is this socialisation?

There are people who move, between individuals, large groups, small groups; they transcend the labels. They ultimately deal with a large-scale organisation; an organisation with a command line from head down through deputy heads, form teachers, class teachers, supply teachers. They handle it. They are the succeeding people. We're glad. They survived socialisation.

But in the home ed world, what is socialisation?

My flippant answer, is that whatever socialisation is, we do too much of it. There are too many play dates, parties, all group meetings; mixing with adults, little kids, babies; all in workshops, lessons, parks, all day events. Then shops, high streets, libraries, galleries, museums. Everyday, somewhere. Can't we take a month off and stay at home?

My scared answer - on the days when all goes bellyup - is that whatever socialisation is, we don't do enough of it. We have issues. Too much shyness. Timidity. Fear of dogs. Strange people. New people. Too few people. Too many people. Wrong moment. Wrong place.

My more considered answer is, socialisation means what you want it to mean. It is the life you choose.

So today, socialisation is this tree. It contained eight kids for thirty minutes. One, reaching the top, yelled down to the others to come up.

Socialisation is this straggly walk through the conifers perched, wind blasted, against the Greensand Ridge.

Socialisation is this moment, wondering how many times a dog can jump into a lake to fetch a stick before it feels the cold.

Socialisation is walking on forest paths, talking about soil, the weather, lost scarves, and wondering about the lives of people who on Mondays must take themselves into schools.


Michelle said...

You didn't get snow???? I froze this morning, driving then walking through blizzards. You all go out for a fab walk and climb trees. Mustn't let C see that!

Grit said...

tinsytiny flakes and teenyweeny bits, m. not enough to stop the intrepid conifer explorers.

Sam said...

I love the socialisation tree - that makes me chuckle :-)

Katherine said...

Ah, the 'S' word.
As in 'Don't your children get lonely?' and 'What do they do for friends their own age?'
I won't do a rant post in your comment space. But I could. How can anyone with half a brain think it's normal and good to be locked up with ONLY people of the same age, day in, day out? And 30 of them in a space so small that if it was an office, no-one would work there.
Sorry I did rant.

sharon said...

I rather think you did!

Angela said...

"Socialisation" in school can get so tiring, frustrating, discouraging... don`t we all have our experiences? At least there should be a class, How I avoid being tagged, how do I stand up for myself, how do I learn to say, This is MY LIFE!
This is my main subject with my private pupils who all take a deep breath once they understand I mean it! No, they do NOT learn this at school.
I know why I could not be a school teacher, I would get kicked out after two days!

It's a Mummys Life said...

Sounds like you have the S word pretty well sorted. Also sounds like your kids have a wonderful, exciting, outdoorsy, adventure filled time rather than conforming to what is expected of them at school.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It's something my daughter struggles with, due to her autistic traits. Part of her difficulties focus around social issues.

Really enjoyed your photographs.
CJ xx

Grit said...

but it's true, isn't is sam. we can include fences too, and ditches, hedges, fields and mole holes.

you are welcome katherine. sounds like sense to me.

angela, you are so wonderfully supportive of us over here; thank you! you sound like an inspiring teacher to me!

hi mummys life; it is true that i cannot imagine my girls readily taking sit-down office admin jobs... hmmm. should i be pleased or dismayed?

hi cj. all kids are so very different, and we foolishinlove parents will always do what we can to help them, in school or otherwise. and like you, i just want to be trusted to do that.

kellyi said...

I recently booked to go on holiday for a month and found myself explaining that the kids were HE.

Then the campsite owner tried to persuade me to stay over half term as it might be nice for my kids to see other kids.

Funnily enough we are staying some where else now.

Grit said...

we had this the other day kelly - the automatic assumption that 'you people never work with anyone else' - this said to a group of kids from 10 different families who are growing up together - i've been doing stuff with the group for six years and i'm a newbie!