The Price of Popularity: Is it Worth the Cost?Aug 4th, 2012 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Featured Articles, Growing our Children as Leaders
Traditional Schools and Popularity
In the traditional school setting, teachers and parents are often very much unaware of the daily social stress and aggression with which even socially well-adjusted students must cope. They may be aware of cliques and the labeling of some aggressive students as bullies, and strive to protect those on the bottom of the social ladder – but what about the mass of “average” students?
According to Dr. Robert Faris, an assistant professor of sociology at U.C. Davis, “Most victimization is occurring in the middle to upper ranges of status. What we think often is going on is that this is part of the way kids strive for status. Rather than going after the kids on the margins, they might be targeting kids who are rivals.”
A subsequent study by the university showed that increases in social status were often associated with subsequent increases in aggression. Dr. Faris also discovered that most teenage aggression is directed at social rivals — “maybe one rung ahead of you or right beneath you,” he described, “rather than the kid who is completely unprotected and isolated. The overall rate of aggression seems to increase as status goes up. What it suggests is that a student thinks they get more benefit to going after somebody who is a rival.”
All of this sums up a lot of very counterproductive way of thinking and acting – hindering the educational learning process. The goal a student is supposed to be working towards – success in the adult world – feels distant and far-fetched. And what they’re learning about popularity and social structure doesn’t reflect how the outside world truly operates. When teenagers finally take their leave of high-school, they can find the real-world an unfamiliar and stressful place . Suddenly, necessities, goals, and duties are completely different. What used to work, no longer does. As it often turns out, the popularity race has not served them well at all.
The Homeschool Popularity Factor (Or Lack Thereof)
Parents and educators who don’t fully understand the concept of homeschooling often scorn it due to the misconception that learning at home will produce children who are socially isolated and underprepared to face negotiations and relationships in the adult world. However, this is not the case at all! Homeschooled children are emerging from their educational years with confidence, motivation, and a better ability to create meaningful relationships, both work-related and in their personal lives. How is this so?
Status in the adult world is measured in a radically different way than the “popularity rating” or social hierarchy that is found in a traditional school environment. The ability to pay bills, the type of work an individual does, long-term relationships, and tight family bonds are the things most adults measure as a successful and fulfilling lifestyle. High-school style popularity is virtually worthless for accomplishing any of these things in the adult world!
Family Bonds Are Valuable
According to a recent article by Family Education Magazine, “the homeschooler who interacts with parents and siblings more than with peers displays self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth. She knows she’s a part of a family unit that needs, wants, and depends on her. The result is an independent thinker who isn’t influenced by peers and is self-directed in her actions and thoughts.”
It’s also a common misconception by critics of homeschooling that our kids sit at home from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. pouring over books and worksheets – alone. The opposite is true! The majority of homeschoolers are extremely active kids – enjoying museums, nature walks, parks, field trips, and shows without the weekend crowds. They travel often with their families. The kids participate in a huge variety of activities such as art, dance, scouting, 4-H, language, and music, as well as extracurricular sports.
Parents and families of homeschooled children are fully invested in their kids, rather than simply putting them on a bus each morning, which is proving to provide a sense of security and confidence that is quickly gaining accolades with universities and the business world alike.
The middle school/high-school years only account for a small portion of an individual’s life span. Being functionally adept and prepared for the adult world is ultimately better than being part of the “popular crowd” in the traditional sense – simply because the benefits are much more substantial and fulfilling in the long run.
According to Dr. Raymond Moore, author of over 60 books and articles on human development, it was determined through research that homeschooled children do NOT need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized.’ In fact, he feels that many children often do not respond well in large peer-aged groups. Learning in these noisy and distractible situations becomes difficult, and behavioral problems can develop. After analyzing over 8,000 early childhood studies, Dr. Moore concluded that, children are best socialized by parents and family groups – and not large groups of other children.
This is why socialization of homeschooled children works – and well at that! Producing happy, well-adjusted, and motivated children is truly what it’s all about.
Additional homeschooling posts:
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