Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Addictive Socialisation

by Beverley Paine

From birth we are conditioned by the school system that being in the company of same aged children is normal socialisation. It isn't. It's warped and very unnatural. No one hangs out with people all the same age year after year for 12-15 years, or didn't until compulsory education arrived only a dozen generations ago. However because of systematic brainwashing of successive generations schooled societies have come to believe that it is is 'normal' socialisation.

If every child was forced to drink cola for 12-15 years and the natural alternative, water, was frowned on, drinking cola would become the social norm - after half a few generations people would take it for granted that cola was essential to healthy development, even though there was mounting evidence that in these compulsory and large doses it actually harmed people. A few people would find cola doesn't affect them very much, but the majority would become addicted to some of its elements. Almost everyone would not consider they were addicted and would claim that drinking cola is beneficial, essential - to not drink it would be very damaging both short and long term!

School socialisation is like that. We were socialised in this way and it is hard for us to feel okay about allowing our children to socialise differently. We were taught that not having special friends our own age means we are social failures. The more special friends of our own age we have the more successful we are - success based on popularity. Because school is a competitive environment based on comparison the values upon which friendships are based are often distorted. If our best friend is in another class next year she no longer is demoted to simply friend. The frequency of how often we spend time in her company is important to maintaining this kind of friendship. If her parents can't afford or won't let her keep up with the latest fad then in order to protect our 'image' we drift even further away. It isn't socially good for us to be seen hanging out with 'losers'. We won't win the popularity contest that socialisation has become if we do...

Schools are deliberately structured this way. By alienating people from natural social situations, where friends are selected based on compatibility, interests, personal growth needs and companionship it is possible to manipulate whole sections of the population. In the early years of school the bond between the child and the family (parents and siblings) need to be undermined so that the teacher and principal and school can replace the natural authority and responsibility of the family in order to manage large numbers of children. Break the loyalty and ties to family and you create additional consumers down the track, fodder for the 'economy'. In traditional societies where family bonds remain intact people share, in fact, whole communities share expensive resources and resources are recycled (that's the way its been for millennium).

If our children have been in the school system then they have been exposed to this very powerful addictive socialisation process. The fact that we, their parents, have also been exposed and are in recovery means we are very vulnerable to self-doubt. We feel that what we are doing and asking of our children is radical, an experiment. In fact, in terms of human history compulsory schooling with its abnormal socialisation is the experiment. Given the increasing stress levels in society and accumulating incidences of mental illness I'd say the experiment is failing...

When we deschool our children and worry enormously that we're not meeting their needs, we can think about the cola example above. Our child might not be affected yet (or at all) by the addictive socialisation prevalent in society thanks to compulsory schooling and the attitude and beliefs it engenders. She might simply be an wonderfully social child who definitely needs a range of people in her life every day to thrive plus regular access to one or two special friends who are at the same developmental stage of life (not necessarily the same age!) Or she might be like the rest of us, craving something we've been coerced to believe we need, but when given in bulk and without alternatives, wears us out, makes us fractious and irritable, and leaves us confused, but still craving more. 

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