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Imagine a world in which you are forced to spend six hours a day, five days a week, for ten months, with just a couple of weeks off, in a room full of twelve-year-olds. Imagine that you are expected to interact “appropriately” with those twelve-year-olds, and if you don’t, you are seen as someone lacking social skills..

Imagine that you had tried to interact with the twelve-year-olds, but they didn’t get your jokes. They weren’t interested in the issues that you find compelling. In fact, half of the time, they had little idea of what you were even talking about.

You decide that you will be happier if you stop trying. The room leader notices that you have withdrawn, and decides that you might need some counseling. Of course, counseling may not be necessary, but one thing is certain: you need to spend more time with those twelve-year-olds. Eventually, you’ll become mature enough to get along with them.

No one seems to care that outside of that room, you have absolutely no problem interacting with your true peers – other adults. In fact, you have some good friends and get along with them quite well.

Welcome to the world of many highly gifted children in public school. Compounding the problem is the fact the academic environment is often not sufficiently challenging, which can lead to other behavior problems, which are also seen as signs of immaturity. To provide a more challenging environment for their children, many parents choose to homeschool, but face strong criticism and opposition from others due to the widespread belief that homeschooling does not provide sufficient opportunities for socialization.

What Does Socialization Mean?

We all think we know what “socialization” means, but different people have different meanings in mind when they refer to socialization. Richard Medlin (2000) explains these different meanings:

“Some people mean social activity: giving children the chance to play with friends and participate in traditional extracurricular activities like sports, school plays, and the senior prom. Others mean social influence: teaching children to conform to majority norms. And some mean social exposure: introducing children to the culture and values of different groups of people” (p. 107).

However, Kevin Durkin (1995) explains socialization as “the process whereby people acquire the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes that equip a person to function effectively as members of a particular society” (p. 614). More simply put, it is through the socialization process that we learn how to be a functioning member of society. To be a functioning member of society, we need to learn how to behave, how to interact with others in society, and we need to learn the acceptable beliefs and attitudes of the society.

The popular view today is that children cannot be properly socialized unless they attend school and that homeschooling can harm the socialization process of children. However, not only is that view wrong, the exact opposite is true for many gifted children. It is the public school experience that can harm them.

Carol BainbridgeEducationSocial Emotional IssuesProblems at School,Socialization
Download full article as pdf file Imagine a world in which you are forced to spend six hours a day, five days a week, for ten months, with just a couple of weeks off, in a room full of twelve-year-olds. Imagine that you are expected to interact “appropriately” with those...