“If you are an alpha in high school, in other words, you are not necessarily an alpha for life. The social skills the cool girls (and guys) learned in high school tend not to work very well after they leave. “They’ve gotten so much reward for this skill set and this way of acting among others [that] they become fixated on status as a measure of their worth,” Prinstein explained. “They see everything through a lens of status, constantly thinking about their relationships in a hierarchal way — am I dominant, or not?” Even ten years after graduation, he tells me, the cool kids are still “constantly looking for those signs and signals. But the rest of the world has moved on.”
One thing I appreciate about Home Education is that my kids never have to go through the negative aspects of high school socialisation, as described in this article. My kids may not be oblivious to what happens in schools, as they also have schooled friends and join in a wide variety of extracurricular activities in the community, but they don’t feel obligated to surrender and accept the negative aspects of school socialisation as a life truth or as a creed to live by.
Being the “cool” kids in high school doesn’t get you anywhere in life once you’re out of school. The cool rebellious kids in high school, once they leave school, will either have to reinvent themselves and relearn social conventions to fit into the big wide world and the society they live in, or risk burning out and end up struggling to make ends meet or in jail.
I don’t think all schools are like this though. I went to an extremely geeky girls’ school in Singapore for the top 10% of PSLE scorers (PSLE is the national exam in English, Maths and Science that every 12 year old in Singapore has to take before finishing Primary school the same year). In the school I went too, alpha girls tended to all be the ones who were nice girls and the best at sport and academics. I know it wasn’t like this in other conventional schools in Singapore. Certainly when I entered the workplace I started to learn about the wider world and how unusual the environment of my geek school was, and how growing up in that environment had shaped me into someone who was quite unprepared and unskilled at the ways of the wider world.
I don’t think the kind of school I went to was ideal, because we were sequestered away from normal society for most part of the day – long days at school and tonnes of difficult advanced homework meant we hardly had a social life outside of school with people not from our school.
I think with home education, the best of both worlds can be achieved in some ways, allowing the child to still be aware of the wider world, but not sequestered to any particular school social environment and forced to socialise in negative ways. Yes I find I’ve had to work harder to make sure my kids are socialised appropriately but not to the extent of being socialised negatively, but seeing my kids grow up happy and well-adjusted is one of the greatest pleasures of my life.