Socialising and subculture

Like many people, one of the first questions I had when I was thinking about homeschooling was ‘Where are all the boys friends going to come from?’

We are not very social people. We do not belong to any interest groups. Living where we do, there are not many interest groups around, outside of team sports. All my recollections of team sports are of pack mentalities, and the glorification of a few individuals at the expense of a lot of losers. I am just not prepared to spend energy teaching that to the boys.

Being part of the subculture of homeschoolers can be a further limiting factor. There is simply a smaller pool of potential friends to pick from.

Camel statue

Both of my boys are very friendly, and very articulate. Many of our conversations tend to revolve around fart jokes, slapstick humour, and other fairly typical imaginings of small boys. Outside of that, though, they can also be very formal and precise with their language, especially when they are discussing an engaging subject or negotiating particular circumstances. They speak very well to a wide range of people in a lot of different situations. While that is great, it still does not fill the need of spending the day playing with a friend.

They rely on each other a lot for a playmate. While they largely avoid the peer group pressure that comes with being part of a school group, they definitely spend less time playing with other kids their own age than they otherwise might.

One of the first things I did to try and make up for this was join the local homeschool group. If we were going to be part of a subculture, I figured we should be an active part of it. I started a chess club, which ran for about six months, and have been on some nature walks and craft days. Despite this, I have always felt it to be something of a struggle belonging toย this group. I noticed that, apart from one exception, the boys were never much interested in playing with the other kids either.

The other day, there was a museum style exhibition coming to town, advertising itself as ‘Mysteries of the Ancient World.’ These sorts of things do not come by here very often. I have always found ancient history fascinating. Partly for that reason, partly as an educational event for the boys, and partly for the social potential, we went along.

Despite giving the impression of being about ancient Egypt, the display was actually a weird mishmash of different cultures with no real way to distinguish what was what, or how they all related to each other.

Cuneiform tablet

There were Egyptian grave goods, Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, Assyrian statues, Roman wax tablets and Jewish pottery lamps. A large section was dedicated to the Dead Sea scrolls. I was unable to describe six different cultures at once to the boys, and so could give them no context for what they were looking at. A large timeline took up one wall. It started with the big bang in 4000 BC, and went on to describe history as I have never seen or imagined it before.

The exhibition guide fairly quickly arrived at his crucial question of ‘Can all the Christians in the room put their hands up?’ If ever I had not understood my fringe position in this group, it was clearly demonstrated here. Standing with my arms by my sides looking out at room full of waving hands was a decidedly uncomfortable moment. At least no one asked me to justify myself. It seems the boys and I are part of a subculture we don’t belong to.

The guide expanded on his personal beliefs, and then went on with the tour of relating different artifacts to various bible chapters. It meant nothing to the boys. I tried to interest them in some of the details, but they were bored, and I was depressed. We left early.

On the oval outside, the sun was shining. We kicked a soccer ball to each other.

About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a manager for the local health district, drink too much coffee, and am an overenthusiastic martial artist.
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11 Responses to Socialising and subculture

  1. Oh, I so get this. We are in the exact same boat. This is our fourth year of home school, and I still haven’t figured out where to find the home schoolers we belong with. If I do find a good group or activity, it’s usually too far away to be practical for Grace to make friends who she would be able to see on any sort of regular basis. Your experience with the exhibit sounds horrifying. :/

  2. Ditto. This is the socialization dilemma. You may also want to check your local “bounce place”. Knowing we get a homeschoolers discount on Thursdays is an incentive as is the Wednesday homeschoolers park get together (though it rains or freezes every Wednesday, it seems).

  3. Deidre says:

    This touched a nerve. I too will not be fitting in with that subculture either. I of course respect Christianity as a faith and consider myself a Christian….as well as a Buddhist and a Pagan. Although I could easily enjoy the differences among Christian faiths, my experiences have taught me, that kind of openness does not go the other way. “Buddha was the devil leading us astray from the word of God” and “Pagans are Satan worshipers”.

    I worry about this, as American homeschool coops are predominantly faith based. Here’s hoping I at least find the wine drinking Christians.

    • Blokeschool says:

      A friend of mine was describing having to deal with the consequences of a creation vs evolution argument which had broken out between her six year old and one of the other kids and been taken to the kind of level that only arguing six year olds can manage. Her concluding advice was never discuss religion in these groups as its not worth the repercussions. While I agree with her, it is pretty draining keeping track of children’s conversations for fear that they will offend somebody. Good luck finding the wine drinkers ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Deidre says:

        That is one point, for sure, I don’t want to spend my time worrying about what innocent comments my children might make, but for me, the spirituality of life is something worth learning and discussing. The differences between how humans define this is of interest to me and I want my children to have that same thirst. Being in a group dedicated to education where religion can not be discussed seems counter intuitive to the reasons I am choosing to homeschool. I want to expand my children’s minds, I want them to see everything from every angle, what better place to start than spirituality. That requires an open mind and lack of judgement, I don’t know that exists inside most, not all, Christian coops.

      • Blokeschool says:

        Although I didn’t know that comparative religious studies was a real subject until I was an adult, I actually studied it from as soon as I was able to read. With an insatiable thirst for history, I could hardly avoid the mythology and sectarianism of the various people I was reading about. While a lot of these stories came across as kind of quaint and vaguely hallucinogenic, there is no doubt that the people living inside those respective cultures took it at least as seriously, if not more-so, than people today.
        What really fascinates me about history is that so much of it is about how people from vastly disparate environments, with different resources to use and limitations to work around, all struggle with the same basic problems: How do I get shelter?; how do I feed myself and the family?; often, how do I get more than my fair share of it?; and most interestingly, how do I make sense of it all?
        Common themes emerge, which I think really highlight what various religions are trying to get at, regardless of how the details might manifest in the cosmology of whatever group of people we are looking at. The details themselves are interesting, but I feel they often miss the target. If you are trying to describe the divine, then words and images are just not going to be up to the task. I probably wont win too many religious friends with an argument like that, and I certainly wont fit into a faith based co-op, but still, that’s where I stand.
        I often wonder how to introduce religion and spirituality into our very secular house. I think that history is probably the most objective, the least judgmental, and ultimately, the most fulfilling way to do it.

  4. dkjsv05 says:

    When we first started homeschooling it pretty much was only Christians. Now, however I am seeing more and more people homeschooling who are secular. It is a slow progress but one that is progressing.

    When I think about friends I have made past and present, most were needed as an escape from my home life, I ran away at 18, others were from places I worked. Now I am less set on quantity and more about support, I think due to maturity. ๐Ÿ™‚

    When we are able to shed “social norms” and understand ourselves more and get down to what it is we really want, someone to accept us for who we are or someone to just kick the ball around with when bored it does become easier.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I do agree with the quality over quantity idea with regard to friends. Childhood friends especially can be such a powerful and positive influence, a few more would be nice, though. We are getting there slowly, I think.

  5. J.C says:

    I felt like this for much of the first year of our home schooling journey (have just closed out year two!). The main home schooling group here is primarily rather strongly Christian and all do ‘school at home’ rather than the free-range learning we love. It was very hard to find connections.
    Over the last year we’ve thankfully collected a group of like-minded families, and it’s like having a tribe – I think we’re very lucky!
    We went from having almost no-one, to having regular meet ups. We swim on Mondays, and bush walk on Thursdays, and there is always something happening in between. I see some of these people 2-3 days a week (sometimes multiple times a day, depending on the kids). Some kids did an art class this term, and next term there will be creative dance and no doubt other things – the range changes all the time, depending on what the kids are interested in. Primarily, they just like being together and are up for ANYTHING if they know they’ll see their friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ This Tuesday I will have 7 kids here for the morning which will be fun! lol
    I hope you find more friends! They make the journey a lot more fun, and it’s lovely to see friendships being built with a range of people. They are SO different from the friendships my eldest had when she was in school. A lot more positive and full of vibrancy, not dictated by who is cool and who is not.

    • Blokeschool says:

      That is fantastic! I am really inspired to scratch a little further than we have so far, after reading that. I have definitely noticed that the promise of meeting the prized friends makes something far more interesting than it otherwise would have. Great to hear about the style of friendships you are getting being so positive as well.

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