Saturday, May 28, 2005

Socialization

It happened again yesterday. I was talking to a friend, when she mentioned that her granddaughter asked her where Z had been(she and Z are in the same grade). My friend told her granddaughter that we were homeschooling Z, and she replied: "I'm happy for him, cuz everybody picked on Z!".

We have heard this numerous times from our friend's kids. GJ, the son of a close friend of ours, is 2 grades ahead of Z. GJ and Z have been best buds since Z was born. This boy has always been tall for his age, and built like a brick shithouse. GJ was Z's defender at school until his family moved out of town. GJ would go and stand behind Z whenever he saw him being bullied. His mere presence would make the bullies back off. Another friend's daughter told me that she couldn't understand why the playground monitors wouldn't do anything when Z would tell them he was being bullied.

True to my form, I researched homeschooling before we considered doing it. I knew that we could handle the teaching end of it, but I worried about socialization. The most powerful statement I read, came from a father's homeschooling website. He said: "What kind of socialization is constant bullying?" I'd never thought of this before. There's actually such a thing as good socialization and bad socialization. We chose good socialization!

6 Comments:

At 5/28/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger SME said...

That's a very good point! But I guess being a theatre person, I'm getting bad socialization. Heehee.

 
At 5/29/2005 7:35 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I think most people have the image of a homeschooled kid as being a loner (because the only place a kid can make friends is school?). But as long as he's getting socialization, who cares where it comes from (school vs. out-of-school activities). A lot of the socialization in schools is negative anyway - be like everyone else or be ridiculed, be good a sports or be ridiculed. My personal experience, I was picked on quite a bit for being a little different. It's a double edged sword now that I look back on it. It was painful, but I wouldn't be the person I am today without that experience either. But yes, I agree that the kind of socialization kids get in school isn't always positive. My cynical side says that the media image of homeschooling is skewed that way because schools (even private) are the first point for our capitalist, pseudo-nationalist indoctrination - must produce good little workers.

Anyway, good for you.

 
At 5/30/2005 1:10 AM, Anonymous Sagepaper said...

I traveled around a lot as a kid. I was in many different school sytems. In all but one, a rural Oklahome school, it became evident that my defense was my problem. I always got the short end of the stick from teachers.

The best example of this happened in Maryland, at an open school (a hideous and failed program). A girl two years my senior came up to me with friends in tow, and began bullying me. I was a smart-ass, and mouthed-off to her, embarassing her in front of her friends. She slapped me hard across the face.

The school had been trying to reduce MY aggressive behavior, and had told me not to fight back, but to go tell a teacher. I went and told on the girl. I was told that somone as smart as me should know better than to provoke another child who was bigger than me. I told my parents. They called the school, and complained that no disciplinary action had been taken against the other girl.

The teacher got the other girl and me together, and lectured us both. Fighting was not allowed, but it was better to stop it before it began. She handled the matter unevenly, leaving the blame still with me.

A few days passed, and the girl and her friends approached me again. She was angry that I had told and gotten her in trouble. I said something like, "You got yourself in trouble." She then called me many derrogatory things. As I listen, I observed that I was feeling provoked. I punched her in the nose.

The teacher was livid with me. I parroted back to her her own rules, and called on nearby witnesses who said I had been provoked. It mattered not. I was sent directly to the principal's office, and my mother was called.

So, the real rules were that anyone could treat me anyway they liked with impunity, and if I were the least deviant from a perfect young lady, I was susceptible to the wrath of anyone near me.

To say the least, things like this interaction often emboldened my tormentors. In this particular case, I had caused the other girl enough pain that she no longer bothered me. That was ultimately the take-home message.

There is only so much trouble you can be in. If I got the max for pushing someone, there was little more that could be done to me for leaving them gasping and crying on the ground. If I only pushed, the bullying would continue. If I dropped a bully, they would leave me alone.

Regarding bad socialization, most of my friends and I were turned inside out over Columbine. The whole nation was stricken. But my friends and I were horrified to observe that we had more empathy for the gunmen than for their classmates and teachers. Bullying must not be tolerated. It can harden a soft heart and warp a bright mind.

 
At 5/30/2005 9:00 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Our family too, tends to empathize with the shooters. Just about every time, it turns out that the shooters had been bullied and had no parent support system, or "soft place to fall", at home.
The tragic part of these shootings is that it's usually innocent bystanders that get killed. So my heart goes out to these families as well. The true villians are the "absentee parents" of the shooters, and the school administrations that allow the bullying!

TS kids can be such easy targets of bullying as most tend to overreact and many run purely on impulse. We have been working on Z's impulsive behavior and he's been making a LOT more progress since we pulled him out of school.

Z actually started making terroristic threats to his bullies when he was in 6th grade. This got him in HUGE trouble! He thought that if the bullies thought he was a "psycho", they'd leave him alone.

 
At 5/30/2005 8:32 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

I was lucky. The public schools I went to were tolerable.

As for Zombieslayer Jr., he's much, much better off home schooled than the crappy socialization he gets at 2 of the 3 schools he's been to in California and the one he went to in Seattle. Your son's not missing much, trust me.

If you want good socialization, have him play Little League or the YMCA sports. Check out the coaches first though. I used to coach and made kids' fun first and winning second. Make sure you get someone like that.

 
At 6/16/2005 4:32 AM, Anonymous old albert said...

my first bully was ginger baker who lost some of his front teeth behind the bike shed...when he ran into a lump of 2x4he never saw it coming or me... i'm not sure how he explained it all as i was the only guy who saw it happen

 

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