The age old socialisation question raised its head the other day.
“What are your social skills like?” a home educated young person was asked at a job interview.
What kind of question is that F*S!!!
There are several irrational things about this (the question – not my response!):
- Couldn’t the interviewer tell – he’d been talking to the interviewee for over half an hour by this time?
- What on earth does he mean exactly – I doubt he could answer?
- How the heck could you – or any of us – answer such a question?
- Would he ask a school leaver the same question?
I always think it’s rather weird that the most pressing thing on people’s mind in relation to home educated children has little to do with learning and education – it’s about social development. And even more weird to think that ‘normal’ social development would take place within the abnormal social setting of a school.
Anyway, what are ‘social skills’? How would we answer? We’d better think about it in case any of your children get asked! By ‘social skills’ is it meant:
- That we are polite and articulate?
- That we can converse and interact in an appropriate way?
- That we can assess and make suitable responses to people’s (sometimes weird) questions and behaviour?
- That we’re chatty and articulate?
- That we show empathy, consideration and respect when with others?
- That we can pick up social cues?
- That we are mature and act responsibly in company?
- That we’ve got friends?!
- Or that we are just nice people!
- Maybe all of the above!
Every home educated child that I’ve ever met is all of those things anyway – and more.
I wonder sometimes how many parents, when they send their children to school to mix among a population of socially inept youngsters, how they think this is going to ‘socialise’ them. How many children or parents even know what that is? How many school using parents think about it? Yet bizarrely they are the ones who challenge home educating families with such doubts and sometimes accusations.
So I’ll say it again – and home educators will probably need to go on saying it until there are so many choosing this option others begin to notice how socially unskilled many school children are – home educated kids:
- are sociable,
- have friends,
- do talk to others,
- do get out with others,
- can mix appropriately,
- can hold a conversation,
- are very socially mature
- and are usually nice people!
And they are like this because they don’t go to school; because they mix with many others out in society in the natural social clusters found in society (not the unnatural one found inside schools), with a high proportion of adults who do have social maturity.
Perhaps if you’re home educating you should go about asking ‘what are your social skills like’ to everyone you meet? This way we might get some answers that would prepare the children for bizarre and ridiculous questions like these.
Or maybe just prime them with the answer; ‘excellent thank you!’ And that will be the end of it!