The negative impacts of school-based socialization have recently come to the foreground of social thought. Ironically, I don't think many people realize that socialization is the culprit. The focus is currently on our girls. In a telecommunications ad, they ask us to Inspire Her Mind while placing the blame squarely on parents. In a feminine products ad, we see that Like A Girl becomes a derogatory term sometime after age 10. Why? Where? How? <shrug> Buy tampons.
Ugh. One of the little girls right around 1:14 makes a great observation. When asked if "like a girl" was a good thing, she paused before saying, "I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing."
Exactly. Gender is just a thing. A reality. A fact. In fact, later in the video, a young woman makes the obvious point that she does things like a girl because she is a girl. But this tautology is ultimately unhelpful. We homeschoolers have already figured this out: We should teach and learn things. Period. Not like a girl or like a boy.
Schools, as Dr. Sax observes in Why Gender Matters, are notorious for reinforcing gender stereotypes and arbitrary gender roles. In fact, simply by putting the sexes in separate schools you increase the number of boys who take, say, dance and the number of girls who participate in things like chess club.
The problem, then, is not gender, but what society -- via socialization -- teaches us about gender. The problem is what I call a "socialization ill."
As homeschoolers, you and I have the opportunity to skip all that nonsense. We don't teach boys and girls, we teach students, our children. Knowing the differences between the genders, of course, can be instrumental in helping them achieve whatever they are called to do. That's one the reasons I love Why Gender Matters: It helps us empower our children by educating us.
As a mom, you will teach like a girl. As a guy, I'm going to teach like a boy. That means I'm going to be louder and likely thrive under a bit of pressure. We're different. But ultimately our goal shouldn't be to do something based on gender. Our goal is to follow where the Lord leads.
Please, inspire your children's minds. Continue to encourage them in their interests -- be it rocket ships like The Moehrings or pottery like Heather's daughter or astronomy and Legos like Kim's children. The first video offers a good reminder to relax a bit and let our children find joy in what interests them, not pulling them away from their passions simply because it's messy or not perfectly safe. Life is messy and everything carries a bit of danger. We know this. We see it every day in our homeschooling.
Keep doing the great things you're doing. Continue to observe your children and let them fly. And thanks to your support and encouragement, they'll feel free to pursue aerospace if they want.
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian
P.S. As I wrote this post, I kept thinking about how homeschooling gives students confidence. It's not exactly on point, but the theme is very similar. Homeschooling rocks.