So I'm having a conversation with the 11-year-old son of some friends. It was a wide-ranging talk: he discusses all the books he reads and how he likes fantasy works. I speak to him of the wonders of the old Jack London books and London's great short story "To Build a Fire." We go to other subjects: sentence diagramming, for instance. He hates it, but I think it's necessary to really learn grammar. He disagrees. I tell him I can see he reads a lot, because he has a great vocabulary. He laments that his vocabulary isn't as good as those of his older brothers or his mother. I've never known an 11-year-old to regret he can't speak as well as his parents.
In the course of our conversation, my young friend talks of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II, plus he rattles off the names of battleships at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked in December, 1941. I tell him of the strategic shift during that time from battleships to aircraft carriers as he notes that the aircraft carriers stationed at Pearl weren't there when the attack took place. He talks of the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan's General Yamamoto. Although he gets the name wrong, I know whom he means and tell him how American code-breaking allowed for the shooting down of Yamamoto's plane later in the war. He recounts how Yamamoto liked America and lived here for awhile and how Yamamoto opposed the strategy of the Pearl Harbor attacks. I tell him he needs to see the old movie Tora, Tora, Tora, and recommend he watch another old film, Midway. He says he's heard of Midway as a place and I talk to him of how the battle there was a turning point in World War II, how the Japanese navy suffered a defeat that eventually resulted in Japan losing the war.
On we went, talking of World War II, the role of Abraham Lincoln in American history, of Ronald Reagan. Heavy-duty conversation with an 11-year-old, no? But not really -- after all this young man is home schooled. As the result of his first rate, personalized education, he's able to hold his own in an intelligent conversation with a college professor.
Which makes me think of the tired old argument against homeschooling: the lack of peer socialization. You don't hear about it as much as when the Cutest Community Organizer to Whom I Am Married did some homeschooling at different times with our children. The argument has probably diminished since it's impossible to ignore the characteristics of so many homeschoolers: poised, confident, articulate, knowledgeable individuals comfortable with all kinds of people at all kinds of ages.
But I'll grant that homeschoolers do lack some socialization: they are not continually exposed to drugs, alcohol, bad language, poor influences, nutty educational techniques, and lesson plans designed to destroy traditional concepts of God, family, community, and country.
In that they are deprived.
I think it's great.
And they might learn diagramming, too.