For those on the outside looking in, it's a homeschooling buzzword.
For those who've been there/done that, it's a joke.
No, really. In homeschooling circles, the word 'socialization' is a joke. We laugh and throw up our hands, do an *I'm scared of the big, bad wolf* kind of dance and then giggle uncontrollably about "weird, unsocialized homeschoolers." Because the distance between reality and the stereotype is so immeasurably vast that it renders the whole issue a brilliant parody of itself.
We really are not trying to be mean or condescending, it is just that that stereotype of homeschoolers has created for us a stereotype of our detractors. So the whole thing just winds up being hilarious.
There are a couple things people don't quite seem to grasp, those who honestly believe that "socialization" is an issue.
First, they don't seem to grasp the fact that most homeschoolers very specifically do not agree with the kind of socialization that goes on in institutionalized school environments. We do not want that for our children. So, what they are arguing that our children don't receive is actually something we don't want to begin with.
Many homeschooled children, especially older ones who have effectively never been in school.... ever.... are so different in their mannerisms and behavior and countenance that is sometimes takes people by surprise. What some people consider 'socially awkward' is simply the natural progression and development of a human being who has never been inside the artificial vacuum of a school environment.
Because modern schooling is, in point of fact, an artificial environment. That is not supposed to be a pretentious insult or judgment. At all. It's just the truth. Modern schooling was invented by man, the culture of which has developed over generations, shaped by time and trends and morals of society. And it is, in fact, a vacuum. Children already have a limited view and scope of the world due to their inherent immaturity. When that view and scope is narrowed even further behind the double doors of a synthetic society within itself, with its own laws and authority figures and cultural behaviors and trends and social mores, it creates a reality vacuum.
And phrases like 'welcome to the real world' are employed in reference to newly-graduated young adults who are now being released from that vacuum and discovering that the real world is absolutely, undeniably nothing like high school.
So, again, what is seen as homeschooling social awkwardness is simply the personality of one who has never been inside that vacuum.
What if a 40-year-old engaged a 16-year-old young man in conversation, and the teenager walked right up to him without hesitation, looked him straight in the eye, shook his hand firm, and spoke to him with the maturity and intelligence of a peer rather than a child? Some adults might be put off. Perhaps they'd feel disrespected. Maybe even challenged. Threatened. Confused. Impressed. What if the teenager solidly held his own in a conversation about politics? What if he bested the older man's knowledge of music from his own generation? What if he corrected the older man on something?
That is 'socialization.'
It's the teenager who hangs out with kids half his age because he still likes jumping on trampolines and playing hide-and-seek once in a while. And he is fully capable of matching his language and behavior to the appropriateness required from his evironment without ever needing to be told.
It's the kid who just ran downstairs to give his mother some tips and ideas on how they should flex their writing muscles over the next 2 months in preparation for NaNoWriMo. And then ran out the door to hang out with his best friend. Who is a 20-something college student. But he will probably be accosted by the 6-year-old little girl two houses down who wants to play "tag" or whatever 6-year-old little girls like to do. And he will stop and play with her.
It's the kid who wakes up at 7:00 AM to walk his friend to the bus stop every morning so the other kids won't pick on him. And then meets his friend at the bus stop every afternoon.
It's the kid who calls his Gramma on the phone for an hour-long discussion of the book they are both reading. And can then grab his drum sticks and jam with his teenage friend across the street while talking about popular music and bands and video games.
It's the 15-year-old lanky little white boy with skinny jeans, long hair, and braces who runs into a friend at Wal-Mart. A friend who is super excited to meet me. And tells me how cool and smart my kid is. And how he loves hanging out with him and having conversations about all manner of things. And the friend is a 70-year-old black man who lives down the street from us and walks with braces on his legs.
That happened today.
That is 'socialization.'
And that is why most homeschooling parents cannot help but laugh when it is suggested that the absence of prom and locker gossip and lunchroom laughter and band bus shenanigans will undoubtedly render their poor, inept children socially handicapped and unable to function in society.
Because that totally fucking makes sense.