One of the questions I do get, however, has to do with socialization. When someone raises the issue, my first response is to ask how much time they spend with children, particularly teenagers.
Last spring, I recall taking my oldest son (six) to a high-school basketball game. Here in Indiana, HS b-ball is king, and the local high school has a gym that can seat something like 10,000. (Though I had seen 'Hoosiers,' I wasn't prepared for the basketball-mania that sweeps Indiana every winter.) As we took our seats, which are ticketed, I noticed that we were sitting in front of a gaggle of boys who appeared to be between the ages of 14 and 16.
Over the course of the first half, before we moved to an emptied out area of the facility, we were subjected to all manner of vile talk, sexually charged chatter, and even a bit of blasphemy.
This came to mind yesterday when I took two of my children to play at a nifty little spot with a bunch of inflatable trampoline-like toys and a miniature golf course. A group of "summer campers" from our local YMCA was on the premises. I'm not sure exactly what I expect from children who spend nine months of the year "socialized" in public schools and summers flitting about at the Y. After all, manners are externally imposed behaviors compelled upon young children by loving and caring adults (i.e., parents). Surely, a group of "counselors" (strangers) and peers at the YMCA cannot be expected to turn little children into responsible young adults.
Nonetheless, I tend to expect a certain level of behavior. Instead, I was subjected to children who looked like they were "socialized" along with Piggy, Ralph, and Simon in Golding's "Lord of the Flies." Pushing, shoving, cutting in line, taking twenty minutes to complete hole number seven while I stood glaring in the background, asking ME for money--all just the tip of the iceberg.
I'm not exactly clear how tossing a child into a group of his peers all day long is the best way to bring out his potential. Ultimately, parents have the responsibility to raise children to honor and glorify of God. To teach them about God, and to also teach them that a Godly order includes manners--opening a door for a lady, to take one example—is ultimately my duty, not the role of the State or some other institution. While I can and perhaps must rely on a community to educate and raise my children (it does take a village), the ultimate responsibility is still placed in my lap.
Part of the problem is our view of children. When I referred recently to my youngest son as a "bundle of sin," I was practically anathematized. I'm no expert on the matter, but it seems that generally, there have been two views of children. One, descending from John Locke, says that children are effectively blank slates and just need to be filled with the right "stuff." This seems to be at least part of what undergirds our theory of public education. Skilled technocrats at the behest of the State are going to "create," in God-like fashion, children who will become responsible citizens and take their place in the democratic, globalist machine.
Secondly, via Rousseau comes the notion that children are noble savages who should not be enslaved by institutions and authority. This is the theory on display at the YMCA summer camp described above and seems to be the theory driving “unschooling” as well.
But children are not blank slates. They are created in the image of God, although that image is marred irreparably by the presence of sin. Likewise, children are not noble savages, for youth is almost always associated biblically with folly. Our contemporary version of schooling, including Sunday School, merely creates an environment that could be described as folliness squared, foolishness on steroids. This is what my well intentioned inquisitors call socialization.