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    The Socialization Question {Part IV}

    May 15, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I am constantly tempted {through a great swinging of my ideological pendulum over the years} to simply dismiss the socialization question. After all, I find a certain amount of weirdness endearing, and I admit that I myself become increasingly eccentric as the years go by.

    But the fact remains that Man was not created in isolation. He was given a wife to love, and, later, children to rear. He was designed to have dominion over every facet of creation. A Christian child must grow into an adult that is able to make disciples of nations. The circle ever widens: man, marriage, family, community, nation, the world. To the extent that “socialization” implies that a child is trained to interact with other people in such a way that he is respectful and loving toward others, socialization is an important facet of education.

    Notice I said facet.

    I think one must be careful not to let it become the driving force. Socialization is a huge motivator for some Christians I know when they decide to put their children in institutionalized schooling. After all, a lot of kids like kindergarten. They like making friends, and feeling “big” by being away from Mom a bit.

    I am here to tell you that my son likes cookies and ice cream for breakfast {um…and lunch and dinner!}. He likes to avoid certain healthy foods. He likes to stay up late. He likes to disobey sometimes. He likes to yell when other people are talking. He likes to knock his little sister over. The fact that my child will like something far from guarantees that it is best for him. He likes a lot of things that are outright bad for him.

    Really, this is what it means to be a child. The Bible says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, so one shouldn’t be shocked to witness it firsthand. In an institutional setting, there are sometimes up to 30 foolish children per classroom. Professionals will call this a “peer group,” and will mention “peer influence” or “peer pressure.”

    Depending on the child’s personality, an insitutional education will influence him through some combination of these three vectors: the curriculum and its accompanying ideology, the teacher, or the peer group. It is this triad of influence that is why we homeschool.

    We are not filled with a spirit of fear. We simply believe that God has entrusted a

    Because all education is inescapably religious, it can never take place in an ideological vacuum.

    child to his parents and not a state-sanctioned curriculum, certified teacher, or neighborhood peer group, and it is a shirking of our responsiblity to burden someone else with the majority of the child’s education, even if they are more than willing to do so.

    There are a million benefits that we think could potentially be realized through homeschooling, but the idea of taking responsibility is the actual reason we have chosen this path.

    In 1828, Noah Webster defined “education” in this way:


    The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties {emphasis mine}.


    The book of Proverbs says over and over that the fear of the Lord is the source of wisdom and knowledge, and it leads to life. Nothing can really be known outside of its relation to the Lord. So education is rooted in discipleship. And the discipleship of a child is perfectly expressed in God’s commands to fathers in Deuteronomy 6:6,7:


    These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.


    In other words, it is all day, every day. It is deliberate. It encompasses all of life. And it is part of what it means to be a parent. There is no room for the Baby-as-Purse mentality in Biblical parenting. Sometimes, I need a topic like this to remind myself of that.


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