Columbus Day Confusion

by Venomous Kate

Although we homeschool, I try to keep the Big-Eyed Boy on a schedule similar to his public school friends. That way he’s never stuck “doing school” while his friends are outside playing. Ensuring he has a chance to play with his peers is important to me, since it helps address the whole socialization thing which causes so many people concern over home education.

Sometimes, I wonder if that’s such a wise idea.

Take, for instance, the argument my son and his little friends had this morning while playing together outside. One of the neighborhood kids mentioned they don’t go to school on Monday because the nation will be celebrating how Christopher Columbus discovered the United States.

My son, who’s been learning about this very thing for the past month, pointed out that Columbus in fact landed at the Bahamas, and that Columbus Day itself is really October 12. We just happen to observe it Monday, instead.

His friends, being products of the public school system, basically told my son that he’s an idiot. The Bahamas, their education has told them thus far, are a string of gorgeous beaches where Mommy and Daddy go for a luxury vacation without them.

Bless his heart, my son at least had the wisdom not to point out how Columbus is far from the Great American Hero his little friends seem to think, or that within three years of landing on the islands he’d enslaved 40,000 Lucayans he’d encountered there.

Instead, he left their illusions safely intact and decided to come home to play a few hands of Uno with me. Since I’d assumed he’d want to play outside as long as possible, I was a bit surprised to find him cutting his playtime short. He didn’t want to stay outside with his friends playing, he said, when they clearly needed to be inside convincing their parents to homeschool them so they wouldn’t remain so clueless.

All of which reinforces my belief that any “socialization” which requires my son to dumb himself down to the level of his peers really can’t be all that good for him.

28 Responses to “Columbus Day Confusion”

  1. I can’t even tell you how much I agree. I was homeschooled, and I was always sort of the odd-one-out at my church youth group. The other kids looked at me funny because I’d bring books to meetings and use words like “detract”.

    It never once occurred to me that I ought to be seeking approval from these people. They were so inane. I found a few girls who were like me, and I couldn’t have been happier.

    My favorite ‘socialization’ story is one time when I was at a party of my mother’s friends. I was about sixteen, and I was hanging out in the kitchen with my mom and a few of her friends. A couple of the friends’ daughters (public school, of course) came up and asked me if I wanted to come hang out with them. I said, “No, but why don’t you come in here? We’re having a really good conversation!”

    The girls looked at me like I’d sprouted another head. One of them said, “We don’t talk to ADULTS?”

    If that’s socialization, then who needs it?

  2. Absolutely, Emma! I was one of those kids who, even though I wasn’t homeschooled, still preferred the company of adults. I just wasn’t interested in vapid conversations about boys, bra sizes and which flavor of Bonnie Bell lip gloss tasted the best.

    Arguably, I’ve since hit my second childhood since I tend NOT to discuss “heavy” topics with people these days, but that’s simply because I’m weary of dealing with folks who lack the ability to use logic and reason, much less whose intellects require me to shorten my words just to ensure they understand what I’m saying.

  3. I don’t know. I spent my formative years (read: 0-30) preferring the company of adults and I’m finding the older I get that fewer and fewer people meet the definition of “adult”.

    On one hand it’s nice to prefer a more mature exchange. On the other, well… too much “maturity” too soon leaves you just plain alone.

    And I’m not so far away from arguing that’s much worse.

  4. Sometimes I wonder if that’s not the cause of my panic when I turned 40. I’ve somehow gone from always being the youngest one among my circle of friends to being the oldest.

    I hate that.

  5. (ah, what the hell, I’ll post it in the comments as well…)

    Yeah, I’ve got one friend. He’s 15 years older than me. I do have lots of kids who want to be around me all the time. But they’re 10-15 years YOUNGER than me.

    I really don’t think it was worth it. I can’t say anything about home schooling because I’ve never been on either side of the equation. Though it seems that if someone’s going to have a predilection towards solitude it’s going to happen one way or the other.

    I just wish my parents had the godlike foresight to throw me into the social deep end. Maybe I wouldn’t be a 38 year old holier-than-though guy living alone in a crappy apartment with computers for company writing software on a Saturday night instead of I have no idea what.

    (I’m actually not in a forlorn depressed mood. It’s just tough not to see things that way.)

  6. Smart man. I always check comment email before personal email. 🙂

    But I’m not so sure that throwing a kid into the “social deep end” really does them any favors. What it does do, and I know from personal experience, is put them in the midst of a sharkpool of peers who believe that “fitting in” and being homogeneous are desirable.

    So the kid squelches any innate individuality they have just to survive and fit in, which may or may not work. Then they get to spend the next 20+ years trying to establish that they are somehow unique.

    Really… is that a “favor”?

  7. Well yeah, hindsight and other side of the fenceness come in to play heavily. It could be that my ability to deal with people who suppose I should somehow be homogeneous is already rather distressingly well refined.

    Ah who the hell knows. I’ve gotta go get a beer.

  8. Ah, see, that’s the problem. I’ve already had a martini, which is why this is all perfectly clear to me. 😉

  9. don’t understand the “problem” part of that.

  10. The problem is the lacking of beer. I assume you’ve since remedied that? Unfortunately, I’m off to go cook dinner. Then I wholly intend to drink myself into a stupor read a good book as a reward for having worked quite hard today.

  11. Nah. going for a beer entails walking a couple blocks away and sitting down trying to ignore some craptastic local band and flirting with a delicious little bartendress who should probably be featured on suicide girls.

    Of course, if I wait ’til about 11:30, there’ll be no crowd and no band.

    Drinking in my apt alone is a red flag.

  12. I want to be a 38-year-old single man! Well, except for the part about flirting with the waitress.

  13. NOW this is getting interesting 🙂

    So what do you think the upside is? (There are a bunch of them. I’m just trying not to salt the dig.)

  14. Didn’t I say I was going to go read a good book?

  15. I’ve been sort of on both sides of this subject, actually. I skipped both kindergarten and first grade, partially because my parents were moving around a lot at the time and did some home-schooling, and partially because by the time we ended up actually living anywhere permanent-ish, I was so far ahead of the peers my age that they couldn’t figure out what to do with me. Nothing quite like handing a would-be second grader the entire coursework for first grade and saying “work at your own pace”, then getting it back in a month. 🙂

    I was horribly bored all the way through school, though, Kate, and I’m glad to see that you’re fostering a true love for learning on the part of your son. I never really acclimated to the “social” scene of public school, because I have never really liked people anyway.

    Thus, I work in human services for the government. Life is full of ironies.

    Anyway, since we’re on the subject of Saturday nights, I’m at home with four little girls while Red is conducting business. I just made Chicago-style layered pizza for them, which was well received, and I’ll be renting a movie so I can have a quiet beer upstairs. 🙂

  16. Oh, and October 12th has a significance far more important than something that happened to some guy several hundred years ago….

    October 12, 19– was when the world was graced by my presence for the first time.

  17. Kate: The book will be there. Decent or even drunken conversation’s a far nobler pursuit.

    So wg: How are you socially now? Did you take a long-term personality hit? I’m finding this all rather interesting.

  18. MWF, the book will be there but thanks to Wayback so would any drunken words I typed!

  19. all the better!

    I’ve written some of my most life-changing stuff while in the bag.

    Of course… that’s gone both ways, one of the very few things about me that do.

  20. LOL. Dinner’s ready. I made sesame spinach, roasted curried cauliflower, and grilled salmon. Perhaps that’ll soak up enough vodka to lure me back to the blog… IF VH does his standard Saturday “tune out the wife and play C&C”.

    Otherwise, you guys will just have to entertain yourselves.

    And keep your feet off the damn sofa, will you? I have having to clean up all that mess every time I turn you folks loose on the site without me sitting here babysitting you.


  21. VKate — Seems this would be a great time to teach your son listening skills with instruction in how to take in information based on context of the conversation.
    My favorite phase when communicating when the context is not very important is “Never argue with an idiot, spectators cannot tell you apart”
    This may be an opportunity in socialization that is a lesson, learning how to treat conversation from others as rhetorical. I’ve had to learn over a lifetime that even if I know I am right or correct sometimes it is just better to keep my mouth shut.
    I sincerely wish that someone in my family could have taught me the difference. I’ve fought many windmills in my lifetime.

  22. I’m definitely gonna use that 🙂

  23. Mad William
    Since you posted that you will use what I wrote, as an adult, I will add a necessary step:
    Since the subconscious needs a response in most situations, an internal comment to satisfy the subconscious is simply to think internally “That’s interesting” The trick is what do you do next. My suggestion is to excuse yourself by finding a place to go, a person to go see (not the barmaid) or something to do. It is important to remember the context of this advice. When a social interaction is not important and will keep you from engaging an idiot.

  24. MWF- It’s hard to say if it had an effect on me, honestly. For the most part, I’ve pretty much always hated dealing with people. I was always an arrogant little git, if you want the truth of it (although I’ve reformed and am very humble indeed lol), and that does tend to put people off.

  25. Sadly, these are the same kids who will grow up thinking that the US single-handedly won WWII, won the war in Vietnam, and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

  26. Far more likely that they’ll be type to watch things like Loose Change and think there was something to it. 🙂

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