Sunday, September 21, 2014

Institutionalized Butterflies

Our friends had two daughters.  Jane was homeschooled, but Kate was sent to Christian school.  We liked them both.  After they graduated we asked Jane why Kate had been institutionalized, rather than homeschooled like Jane.

“Oh,” she exclaimed, “Kate is such a social butterfly.  I can’t imagine her enjoying homeschooling!”

Whenever I think of that remark, I chuckle.  Having observed both girls at church, in our home, and at various social functions, I can tell you unquestionably which one was the most socially mature—homeschooled Jane!  Yep, the poor, deprived, stuck-with-her-parents girl was far more socially adept than her institutionalized sister.

Now, being a great fan of logic, I suggest we think through logically why this might be.

Kate was in an artificial, institutional setting with her same-age peers most of every week.  Her after-school activities were centered around the school or school peers.  Therefore, Kate spent most of her life between the ages of 5 and 18 with a gaggle of other kids her age who went to the same institution and did the same activities together.  The obvious consequence?

Kate only knew how to relate to peers her own age involved in her own activities!  She was a nice, friendly girl and responded when approached—but she could only talk about herself and her own little world.  She never sought out people who weren’t her peers.  The “social butterfly” just didn’t know how to relate to them.

On the other hand, Jane spent most of her life with such diverse people as her parents, her grandparents, their friends and children, her peers, and any other people you would encounter during a day spent outside an age-segregated institution.  Consequently, Jane could—and did—relate to anyone.  She was very mature for her age, could converse on many topics, and was always interested in other people—not just herself and her own world.  She made people feel special and appreciated. 

Doesn’t this make logical sense? 

Too often parents feel that their children are missing good social experiences by being homeschooled.  They don’t realize that their children are learning every day how to relate socially to the “real world,” unlike their age-segregated counterparts in artificial institutions.

I, the Humble Logician, would never dream of bragging, but I admit that during my childhood one of the comments our family often heard was how surprised people were by my sister’s and my social skills.  

“They stood there politely and talked with me!” 
“They were so articulate!”  
“I really appreciated them taking them time to talk with my little children!”

Were we incredibly gifted geniuses, born with the ability to socially relate to every person on the planet??  No, my friends.  We were simply brought up in a real-world, every-day setting where interacting with people in various walks of life, from infants to grandparents, was the norm. 

We see in the Bible that this was the way God planned children to be raised.  How better to train your children to be His emissaries to everyone around them—not just their peers?  Hmmm, I guess God must be into logic too….

Written by Heather Sheen

No comments:

Post a Comment