photo credit: DiabloDivine

Per request, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts on why parents feel a need to have their children socialized through government institutions. At the root of this issue seems to be the underlying desire to have one’s children “fit in”—the quest for acceptance, normality, and even popularity.

The most frequent criticism about homeschooling one’s children—seen by many as the societal equivalent of living in complete isolation in the mountains—is that the children will lack opportunities to interact with their peers and be adequately socialized. This argument is a potent one, for only a poor, uncaring parent would desire that their child always be the last one picked for the soccer team.

But what is socialization all about, and to what extent (if any) is it worthy of our interest? Let’s begin with The Association of California School Administrators, which is reported to have issued the following statement:

“Parent choice” proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained.

This quote is perhaps apocryphal—I could not find the original document—but in it the reader hears the influence of the man who established the first public kindergarten in the United States and who was the U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906. In The Philosophy of Education, William Torey Harris divulged the primacy of socialization through education by asserting that the entire point of public education is “the subsumption of the individual.” The entire quote reads:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

Little wonder, then, that Marx, Lenin, and Hitler were all three staunch supporters of public education. If government-run socialization is the precursor of and pathway to subservience to the State, then it behooves all liberty-minded individuals to reject all such attempts to fit individuals into a bureaucrat-sponsored mold.

However, if in referencing socialization people refer only to the ability to “get along” and interact with their peers, it might be an interesting case study for these parents to walk the halls of the local school campus to better understand what influence they desire their children to have. What traits commonly accepted, embraced, and flaunted by most school-going children are those worthy of emulation?

It’s not just the child’s peers that parents should worry about—a litany of organizations, bureaucrats, teachers, and others are always asserting their influence in determining what is best to teach your child. One of countless examples will hopefully serve to illustrate this point. A few years ago, elementary school children in Palmdale, California, were required to complete a questionnaire relating to sexuality. Among other questions, the assignment inquired about the frequency of the following tendencies relating to the child:

  • Touching my private parts too much
  • Thinking about having sex
  • Thinking about touching other people’s private parts
  • Thinking about sex when I don’t want to
  • Washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside
  • Not trusting people because they might want sex
  • Getting scared or upset when I think about sex
  • Having sex feelings in my body
  • Can’t stop thinking about sex
  • Getting upset when people talk about sex

Six parents sued the school district after discovering that this questionnaire had been administered. In the 2005 court ruling that resulted, the Ninth Circuit Court stated the following:

In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state.

In agreement with this court and in his “Pedagogic Creed” of 1897, John Dewey—the father of American public education—expounded on what he saw as the role of the teacher in government-run schools:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way, the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer-in of the true Kingdom of God.

So much for reading, writing, and arithmetic—it has long been an accepted (if unstated) truism that schools are nothing more than factories through which children are molded, grown, and made to conform to an ever-degrading standard of what a proper citizen should be. Given the stark contrast in virtue between a “social” school environment and that of the ideal Latter-day Saint home, one wonders why any parent in their right mind would proactively seek out opportunities to submit their children to such moral decay.

Note: for those who don’t understand the reference in the title of the blog post, see here.

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