Myths and Misconceptions about Socialization

“If I take my children out of the classroom will it make them socially awkward?” This is a common question for many parents. Cautionary tales abound if you look for them, swaying curious parents back to traditional education. However, Frontier Centre for Public Policy researcher Brianna Heinrichs asserts that these are misleading stereotypes. In her article, “‘Home-schooled,’ not ‘socially awkward’”, Heinrichs looks at misconceptions about learning at home—including lack of socialization, fostering dependency, naivety about drugs and sex, and indoctrination in religious beliefs—and refutes these claims with research from the Fraser Institute and others.

SelfDesign is distinct from homeschooling in that learners are supported by BC-certified educators. However, learning similarly unfolds at home and in the local community, and we consistently experience the same shattering of stereotypes. SelfDesign learners, especially those entering the impressionable tween and teen years, talk of peer relationships that are far less driven by media and social ideals compared to their non-SelfDesign friends and that are far more focused on authenticity and sharing ones passions with one another. Parents notice an increased self-confidence in their children, including more curiosity and creativity as they take charge of their own lives. As founder Brent Cameron noted in his dissertation, by providing learners with a high degree of freedom, choice, and respect, the relationships they cultivate become open and authentic. Most SelfDesign learners come to embrace diverse community and develop a rich and meaningful relationship with their parents. Above all, they learn to follow their own values in choosing their beliefs and behaviours.

A Desire to Learn Differently

Like SelfDesign, Quest University readies students for a globally-connected future guided by heart, head, and soul. While not formally affiliated with SelfDesign, it lives by a similar family of values in the post-secondary world. On Quest’s website, enrolled youth praise the school’s experiential education model, noting how the interdisciplinary format and hands-on approach provides them deep and broad perspectives. Also, many students credit their conversations with other learners and faculty for shaping their personal growth.

These experiential and relational qualities of learning are central to SelfDesign. With no bells to structure time, SelfDesign learners explore their interests hands-on within everyday life, uncovering insights into one or multiple disciplines. Through this engagement and through sharing these experiences with others, they become aware of their own learning and discover themselves in the process. This sharing takes place within ongoing conversations with parents, learning consultants / mentors, and other SelfDesign learners and families. Quest and SelfDesign’s success in shaping education by these qualities suggests a growing shift in how people seek to interact with the world.