Arguments Against Homeschooling: Too Sheltered?

I’m not wor­ried about Katie being “too shel­tered,” although that’s one of the “dan­gers of home­school­ing” accord­ing to its oppo­nents. This study is some­thing to remem­ber the next time some­one brings up that old argument.

Peo­ple who have suf­fered life’s hard knocks while grow­ing up tend to be more gullible than those who have been more shel­tered, star­tling new find­ings from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leices­ter reveal.

A six-month study in the Uni­ver­si­ty’s School of Psy­chol­o­gy found that rather than ‘tough­en­ing up’ indi­vid­u­als, adverse expe­ri­ences in child­hood and ado­les­cence meant that these peo­ple were vul­ner­a­ble to being mislead.

The research analysing results from 60 par­tic­i­pants sug­gest that such peo­ple could, for exam­ple, be more open to sug­ges­tion in police inter­ro­ga­tions or to be influ­enced by the media or adver­tis­ing campaigns.

The study found that while some peo­ple may indeed become more ‘hard-nosed’ through adver­si­ty, the major­i­ty become less trust­ing of their own judgement.

Kim Drake, a doc­tor­al stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leices­ter, con­duct­ed the research with Pro­fes­sor Ray Bull and Dr Julian Boon of the School of Psy­chol­o­gy. Kim said: “Peo­ple who have expe­ri­enced an adverse child­hood and ado­les­cence are more like­ly to come to believe infor­ma­tion that isn’t true- in short they are more sug­gestible, and eas­i­ly mis­lead which may in turn impact upon their future life choic­es; they might suc­cumb to peer pres­sure more readily.”

‘Adverse life expe­ri­ences’ exam­ined includ­ed major per­son­al illnesses/injuries, mis­car­riage (from the male and female per­spec­tive), dif­fi­cul­ties at work (being fired/laid off), bul­ly­ing at school, being a vic­tim of crime (rob­bery, sex­u­al vio­lence), parental divorce, death of fam­i­ly mem­ber and others.

70% of the vari­a­tion across peo­ple in sug­gestibil­i­ty can be explained by the dif­fer­ent lev­els of neg­a­tive life events that they have expe­ri­enced, the study found.

“We also found that the way peo­ple cope with adver­si­ty had an impact on their psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file,” said Kim.

“The major­i­ty of peo­ple may learn through repeat­ed expo­sure to adver­si­ty to dis­trust their own judg­ment; a per­son might believe some­thing to be true, but when they, for exam­ple, read some­thing in a news­pa­per that con­tra­dicts their opin­ion, or they talk to some­one with a dif­fer­ent view-point, that indi­vid­ual is more like­ly to take on that oth­er per­son­’s view.

“This is because the per­son may have learned to dis­trust their actions, judge­ments and deci­sions due to the fact that the major­i­ty of the time their actions have been per­ceived to invite neg­a­tive consequences.

“Anoth­er exam­ple is in rela­tion­ships. Women, as well as men, can become “brain­washed”, and end up chang­ing in their per­son­al­i­ty, their views and beliefs and in some extreme cas­es, they may even take on their views and ideas of the world and come to feel incom­pe­tent (in their part­ner’s eyes).”

Kim added that there is already evi­dence to sug­gest that there is a rela­tion­ship between intensity/frequency of neg­a­tive life impacts and degree of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. Expe­ri­ence of adver­si­ty may have a knock-on effect on a per­son­’s mind­set- they may come to believe that “they are no good”, or “noth­ing they do is ever good enough”.

In con­trast, the find­ings also sug­gest that ear­ly pos­i­tive life events may have a pro­tec­tive influ­ence over the effects of sub­se­quent adver­si­ty: “If pos­i­tive life events pre­date the neg­a­tive life events then indi­vid­u­als may be more resilient in terms of, not being so bad­ly affect­ed, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, by the sub­se­quent adverse events. How­ev­er, issues may arise if the reverse is the case; if the adverse life events pre­cede the pos­i­tive, those indi­vid­u­als may become, as a result, more sus­cep­ti­ble to sug­ges­tion and mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion. Nev­er­the­less, future research will still have to exam­ine this. The order of life events expe­ri­enced, how­ev­er, is seem­ing­ly important.”

The study found that the parental role is an impor­tant one, so edu­ca­tion- show­ing par­ents func­tion­al ways of deal­ing with their chil­dren, mean­ing that the chil­dren will see pos­i­tive role mod­els, and learn “healthy” skills or ways of deal­ing with stress/negative life events- may help cul­ti­vate a pos­i­tive mind-set with­in the child or ado­les­cent which will stay with them through­out life.

Kim said: “Par­ents are role-mod­els for their chil­dren, and show the chil­dren how to cope with stress- if the par­ents are mat­ter-of-fact about neg­a­tive occur­rences and are “hap­py-go-lucky” then the kids may emu­late that. On the reverse, par­ents who cope with stress/negative events in a more stressed man­ner (rag­ing, act­ing out, drink­ing, express­ing a pes­simistic view of the world) this may in turn trans­fer that way of behav­ing onto their children.”

The orig­i­nal appli­ca­tion of this research was the police inter­ro­ga­tion set­ting, the impli­ca­tions being that peo­ple who’ve expe­ri­enced a high num­ber of life adver­si­ties may be more prone to false­ly con­fess­ing due to being high­ly sug­gestible, pos­si­bly result­ing in a greater chance of being wrong­ly convicted.

“How­ev­er, the notion of sug­gestibil­i­ty falls far beyond that of foren­sic psy­chol­o­gy. Peo­ple may find they are more eas­i­ly influ­enced by the media, by TV adverts and so may make life choic­es as a result that they oth­er­wise would not e.g. they may choose not to vac­ci­nate their chil­dren, ” said Kim.

Kim’s work will be pre­sent­ed at the Fes­ti­val of Post­grad­u­ate Research on Tues­day June 13th in the Charles Wil­son Build­ing, Uni­ver­si­ty of Leicester.

From Sci­ence Dai­ly via Omni­Brain.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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One thought on “Arguments Against Homeschooling: Too Sheltered?

  1. I agree! Peo­ple have talked about how home­schooled kids are too shel­tered and need to be “prop­er­ly social­ized”. The image that pops into my head when peo­ple say stuff like that is of this car­toon I saw on a home­school­ing t‑shirt which has three kids stand­ing a bus stop wait­ing to go to school. One of the kids has a gang t‑shirt on, anoth­er one is smok­ing and drink­ing, and the last one obvi­ous­ly is preg­nant. So when peo­ple say stuff about shel­ter­ing our kids, I kind of have to laugh.

    Why is it nec­es­sary for my child to be bul­lied in the lock­er room or feel pres­sured to only eat bird-sizes por­tions of food at lunch? I don’t under­stand how these expe­ri­ences trans­late into lat­er-life suc­cess. But some peo­ple have gone so far as to say kids NEED these expe­ri­ences, as if they need to prac­tice for when they face this sort of behav­ior from co-work­ers. “Hey, man, let’s skip work today and go smoke pot. And then tomor­row we’ll harass that dweeb from human resources, maybe we can lock him in the sup­ply closet.”

    It’s not like the kids who go through this stuff actu­al­ly come out ahead or learn to be tough. Most any­one who talks about school, espe­cial­ly high school, remem­bers this stuff neg­a­tive­ly and can’t point out how it was actu­al­ly beneficial.

    We’ve been accused of shel­ter­ing our kids, but truth­ful­ly, that argu­ment does­n’t make a bit of sense to me. If any­thing it makes me won­der what pieces of wis­dom peo­ple think kids actu­al­ly glean from these sit­u­a­tions and why more peo­ple aren’t con­cerned with the fact that kids even go through this stuff in the first place.

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