I know that we've brought this up before, but for whatever reason, the "socialization" buzzword tripped my trigger again. I was talking with a friend about the real possibility of the kids going to a formal school next fall and the response was, "Good, then they'll get socialized."
I tried not to be a jerk, but despite my efforts I responded with something like, "I know! Because we go to this tiny church with no children and the kids play on an adult soccer team, and that's only when we let them out of the basement. I'm really looking forward to them finally being morally guided by children just as confused as they are instead of bugging me all the time."
Was that too snotty?
Seriously, is that all our educational system has going for it? The presence of other children? 12 years of education and all we have to offer the next generation about our experiences is that there were other kids there? That's the kind of thing I tell my children when they start whining about being dragged to some dinner party. Hey, at least there will be other kids there! And I bet there will be ice cream and corn dogs and Legos... but hopefully not together.
Only once in recent history did the topic of school come up and the response was, "Oh, you should try to get your kids enrolled in that new magnet school. The curriculum is going to be tech focused and your son would love it." See the difference? That was actual advice. I already know there's going to be children there so telling me that my kids will get socialized wouldn't help me make any kind of informed choice at all.
I know I'm just going to have to get over this. The "At least they'll get socialized" response is as ingrained into the American psyche as asking "How about that weather?" It's just what people noncommittally fill the verbal void with and everyone falls for it, including a whole lot of teachers. Because, hey, who doesn't want their kid socialized? That's something we can all agree on, right? It's like the lowest common denominator of our educational system. You may not learn anything, but by golly after 10 years of mandated education, you'll be socialized! At this point I'd like to note that gangs and the military also have very rigid social structures. If that's really all I expected my child to learn through adolescence, I suspect either of those routes would be more effective.
So here's what scares me... what if as a society that's really all we get from our years of schooling and this is just our way of collectively admitting it? I'm a firm believer in the old, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" adage. It's been proven over and over to me during my life thus far, so in that sense, yes, knowing the right people at the right time has been far more important to my career path than knowledge. Book smarts can't pitch an idea, or open a door, or point you toward that golden opportunity. Other people do that, and I think as a society we are trying to come to grips with that. How long do you have to be in an educational institution to meet the right people?
I'm not trying to devalue friendships or contacts or whatever we call all the people we communicate with now. I just hope that when my kids look back on their days at school (wherever that may be) they think about how some teacher got them on track for a career they love, or how they overcame their fear of public speaking, or how math or music or English finally 'clicked.' Anything but, "Well son, at least you'll get socialized just like me."