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    by Mike McHugh

Socialization and Solitude
Date Posted: May 18, 2006

One of the most frequent criticisms of home education is that it undermines a child’s social development by removing him from regular contact with other youngsters. This well- worn criticism is driven by the belief that children require extensive interaction with their peers before they can develop into well adjusted adults. The fact that most home educated children have periods each week in which they are in relative solitude is, therefore, assumed to be detrimental to their social development. But is this assumption supported by the facts of human history? More importantly, does this view of socialization harmonize with the testimony of the Holy Scriptures?

Contrary to the wisdom of this world, the Scriptures present solitude in a positive rather than negative light. The New Testament reveals the fact that on many occasions Christ sought out places in which He could be alone for prayer and meditation. (Matthew 14: 22-23, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:30-32, John 6:1-3, and John 8:1) In addition, the Bible points out how God used solitary places to build up and strengthen young men such as Moses, Joseph, and David the shepherd boy. The Word of God teaches us that it is the quality of one’s character and the depth of his faith that establishes his maturity, and not merely the quantity of his social contacts.

In addition to biblical personalities or examples, we find plenty of evidence from the realm of general history that debunks the notion that home-based education retards proper social development. Many of the world’s greatest leaders or benefactors were educated at home, and developed into world changing and dynamic individuals. Among the more notable personalities who impacted history were people like Leonardo daVinci, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Anderson, Patrick Henry, George Washington, William Penn, George Washington Carver, Albert Schweitzer, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur, Agatha Christie, Pearl Buck, C.S. Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Thomas Alva Edison.

Many children living today could benefit both spiritually and socially by incorporating a healthy dose of solitude into their weekly routines. Most youngsters, especially in the U.S., spend far too much time with their peers which creates the following problems:

  1. Peer dependency which leads young people to adopt a "herd" mentality
  2. An inability to adapt well to interactions with adults or younger siblings
  3. A tendency to take social opportunities for granted which causes young people to spend more time tearing each other down rather than appreciating each other’s company
  4. Family relationships suffer and a "generation gap" develops because too little time and effort go into fostering positive family ties

For this reason, and others, it is puzzling to me why home school parents bother to defend themselves from the charge that they are sheltering their children. In this day and age, what sensible parents could fail to recognize their duty to shelter their children from a wide range of negative social influences? The simple truth is that young people need to be sheltered from destructive people and foolish ideologies.

If I must err as a parent, I would much rather be guilty of keeping a few too many humanistic educators and sexual perverts away from my child’s path. Contrary to the view of some, young people growing up in the twenty-first century are still easily influenced and vulnerable to the fiery darts of the wicked one. Spiritually alert parents will not fail to understand that when the choices facing modern families are solitude or sin, then solitude must win out every time, for it is better to be lonely than in bad company.

"God's Words For US" from Cecelia Lester

The Newness of Life

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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