The chilly, wet air of Bainbridge Island, Washington, practically gusts out of this book, written with such descriptive flair that it effortlessly whisks readers into the life of David Guterson, a homeschooler who despises the word and who fell into the practice by accident after he and his wife suffered anxiety attacks over sending their oldest son to school. Guterson is best known for Snow Falling on Cedars, the fictional bestseller he wrote three years after this honest examination of the ultimate in school alternatives. Before he became a prizewinning author, Guterson was a high school English teacher. It is this contradiction--schooling his own children at home, while teaching his neighbors' children in school--that Guterson tries to dissect and defend. He does so with the same fresh, poetic prose that distinguishes his fiction. Some of the characters may sound vaguely familiar. In one chapter, Guterson is forced to defend homeschooling when he moonlights with a gillnetter who believes the practice threatens democracy. Guterson's detailed account of that night--the fisherman's cadence of speech and body language, the misty isolation of the Pacific after dark--seems like a practice run for Snow Falling on Cedars. Still other chapters get downright erudite, with references to contemporary education books by such authors as Tracy Kidder, E.D. Hirsch Jr., and Jonathan Kozol, as well as citations of important research in the field. Guterson weaves these theories and facts into his own life to support his contention that all parents should have a wealth of choices when it comes to educating their children, and that school districts should foster and assist in these choices.
As for Guterson's three sons, their days are described as rich, active, and simply fun, with trips to theaters, a sheep farm, a medieval fair, art galleries, science centers, and other hands-on experiences that ignite their passion for learning. Guterson claims he's not stumping for homeschooling and, true to his word, he devotes a chapter to his lawyer father's stance on the issue (he opposes keeping his grandsons out of school, but defends the rights of parents to do so). Still, the author makes a well-reasoned case for accepting parents as their children's chief educators. Even if you don't agree, you will enjoy getting to know Guterson and his clear-headed, lyrical look at life. --Jodi Mailander Farrell
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Despite the paradox of his position as a public high school teacher in Washington State who advocates home schooling (and provides it for his three sons), Guterson mounts a strong challenge to "the doctrine of school's necessity." He profiles the home-school movement, which encompasses more than 300,000 families in America, and probes the wide variety of motives behind its growth. The most common, he finds, is parents' dissatisfaction with the mass, prescribed and other-directed nature of public education. Guterson argues that properly practiced home-schooling produces academic success, lessens peer pressure and allows children to become independent. We see these benefits in his depiction of his own family's experience, but he scants the commitment in time and resources that home schooling requires of parents. He covers legal obstacles and community resistance that await those who embark on this traditional undertaking today. While not a panacea for America's educational malaise, home schooling as presented here should prompt educators to reflect on their own approaches.
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.