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John Taylor Gatto In The Homeschooling Book of Answers

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John Taylor Gatto In The Homeschooling Book of Answers

Question: How can I be sure my child is growing socially without trained school personnel assessing this growth?

John Taylor Gatto: How can you be sure you got a good haircut? How can you be sure that wearing a bikini to your sister’s church wedding is the wrong thing to do? How can you be sure whether the soup you just ate was tasty? A huge part of professional assessment is fraud.

I don’t mean to be flippant, but forced schooling can only ensure its own sovereignty by making its clientele mistrust their own judgment. And the more you do mistrust your own judgment, the worse your judgment will indeed become. Formal assessment is institutional school’s mechanism to mediate this fatal process.

Homeschooling, Anyone?

Homeschooling Book of Answers Revised

ThinkĀ  of it this way: Abundant models of success (as you personally define success( are available everywhere in profusion. Look at them for your indices. There are no templates of “social growth” a trained schoolperson is charged with conveying except these:

  • Stay in the “class” to which you have been assigned.
  • Respond to the bell and other reflexive commands.
  • Do what you are told.
  • Confine yourself to your specified place in a world of children.

Does that sound like a formula calculated to produce what any sane person would call “social growth,” or is it a formula for making a hierarchical, intensely corporatized, fundamentally totalitarian future work by providing a trained proletariat for it? A hive world.

You can be sure your child is “growing socially” if he or she is curious about all kinds of people, the details of their lives, their motives; you can be sure your child is okay if he can find pleasure, satisfaction, profit in talking to all different ages, responding appropriately to the challenges and opportunities presented by those older and those younger than himself. You can be proud of your child’s social growth if he relishes responsibility and look on work as a lovely thing instead of a mere duty; if he can be alone with himself for long periods without boredom; if he confronts his own cowardice with people unlike himself and is learning to swim easily, like some noble fish in all human environments.

But most of all, you can be “sure” by learning to trust yourself. Study those people you admire yourself with great and continuous intensity, analyze precisely what it is that makes them socially valuable people, show your child by your own example, your conversation, and your choices that you yourself are growing socially (for surely none of us is ever fully done with this challenge).

And for pity’s sake, encourage your children to develop at least one social talent: play the piano, sing, fill a room with humor, listen creatively, be graceful, whatever. Look at the people you like to be around and you’ll see that every one of them has some attribute which makes her socially valuable. Many such attributes are natural and only need a little encouragement in youth to blossom on their own; some are more sophisticated and require disciplined effort to acquire. It can’t hurt to make your child self-aware – which is not the same thing at all as being self-conscious.

But throw away your fears about what school calls “socialization.” You’d have to be nuts not to see the dehumanization/depersonalization intended by that deadly umbrella word.

See also Can My Child Who’s Been Diagnosed with ADHD Succeed at Home?

From The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 101 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling’s Most Respected Voices by Linda Dobson

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