Socialization Ill: Conformity Over Compassion

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Over winter break, one of "my" college kids was feeling lonely. Her parents' house was empty; she was away from the constant thumping whir of dorm life; not currently in contact with others who keep a vampire's schedule, she turned to the constant chatter of YouTube. And there she encountered Brave New Voices. "I must have spent at least an hour watching and re-watching these videos," she told me. Then she shared a few.

Please note: These videos are not child-friendly and discuss issues related to trigger trauma.

Two of the presentations we watched together: "Rape Joke" and "Somewhere in America". I'm glad I was aware that these are stories she's experienced. She was dwelling on these topics because of her past and present pains and horrifyingly real experiences. These videos spoke to her. They spoke about her. She felt, with the three girls in the second video, that the local mall was a capitalistic smokescreen erected to mask the realities of rape and hunger and privilege. School was a system designed to silence the oppressed, shame the wronged, and promote the trivial. The public educational structure that most people consider essential for equipping children for life in civilization was, at best, a conspiracy against minorities, women, free thought, and meaning.

Friends, there is truth to that.

I am not against public school. But there is a reason I so frequently share Paul Graham's essay on Nerds. See, the pressure of school socialization is to conform to the pattern of that world. And that world -- constructed by your peers -- is petty and pointless. There are great opportunities to be had, to be sure, but the socialization can scar you, so much so that someone started a YouTube channel to provide a cathartic outlet for those who feel silenced by it.

So while this beautiful, talented, wonderful girl was soaking in the brine of popular culture -- dictating her wardrobe, her mannerisms, her behavior -- I was reading missionary biographies and historical fiction which brought to light the travesty of rape, hunger, and the privileged elite. We homeschoolers aren't rocked by evil because we grew up learning about it. And it was no cursory nod from a paragraph on the pages of a dry textbook. We were in the dirt, the mud, the muck with people who bound up the wounds of the hurting, helped free people from literal slavery, and showed their friends their value in Christ. As Chesteron said, we didn't read about dragons to learn that dragons are real, but to learn that they can be killed. We don't wallow in evil. We approach these topics in an age-appropriate fashion with an eye toward building maturity.

Conformity vs Compassion

Homeschooling with Sonlight focused me on compassion.

The focus of the social environment at school is conformity. That is the opposite of compassion. And that is one more in the long list of socialization ills which plague the very halls of the system which claims to be a requisite for better connection with the people around us.

We Sonlighters don't need YouTube to tell us the world is broken. We've been learning what needs to be fixed from the start.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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