Monday, November 17, 2008

Literacy and Socialization

If socialization is really successful, the result is someone who is indoctrinated.

-Kieran Egan, Professor of Education (2008)

Should socialization be part of education? Is a well-educated person, also a well-socialized person?
In early Massachusetts, the Puritan's pooled their resources and opened the first school for young children in North America. Once a child could read Foxe's Book of Martyrs without help, their public education was terminated. Socialization was not part of education then and only became an important part of the school experience in the early twentieth century when progressives sought to assimilate immigrant children into American culture. Today, socialization is a murky term used to describe a combination of "people skills," emotional intelligence, civic-mindedness, respect of authority, tolerance, etc. This important aspect of today's school experience is not tested and there are no standards to judge whether school socialization is effective or even justifiable. Not that we want standards for socialization. But we do want an education worthy of this new millennium. Could the first step to improving public education for our children be the divorce of literacy from socialization? The literacy rate of Puritan children in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts was close to one hundred percent. Maybe the way to a more literate future is found in our past, when literacy was the number one priority at the school house.

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