Although I’m very interested in the idea of “teaching my own,” this book was not for me. It focused too much on the downside of public education and not enough on the positive side of homeschooling.
Review: It is not so much that I am opposed to unschooling as that I just found this book a little condescending and not particularly useful. I completely agree with the author that children are probably more likely to learn something if they are driven by their own interests and internal motivation than if they are forced to learn something in school. However, the first part of this book bothered me mainly because of how strongly the author was anti-school. It came across as fairly judgmental. The message seemed to be: obviously if you’re reading this you are a good parent who would not send your child to public school since we all know school is horrible and damaging.
Personally, I think I will probably do some form of child-led homeschooling. However, I really don’t feel the public school system is as sinister as the author believes. I feel that many if not all public school teachers deeply care about kids and their education. I think teaching is a noble, under-valued profession. I agree that there are elements of school which are detrimental to a child’s natural curiosity and passion for learning, such as grading and forced curricula. However, I don’t believe kids that attend public school are destined for as bleak a future as the author predicts.
The other reason why I was not overly fond of this book is that once the authors got past the part berating the public school system (which was interesting if exaggerated), I just thought the book was somewhat dry and outdated. The book is mainly a compilation of letters to the author about different families’ homeschooling experience arranged into different topics by chapter. Some of them were interesting and illustrated good points, such as to show that any parent can homeschool regardless of their education level or how to assist an older child in learning more about a topic of interest by finding educational experiences for adults. However, many of the other examples I just skimmed over as they did not seem particularly relevant to me at this moment.
Overall, I agree with the overarching philosophies promoted in this book on an ideal educational experience for a child, but I don’t think anyone needs to read this specific book to learn about them. Free Range Learning, for example, is a much more user-friendly and positive.
(Personal Rating: 6/10)