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Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense Reprint Edition

26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156300001
ISBN-10: 0156300001
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Editorial Reviews Review

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

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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (September 16, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156300001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156300001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 120 people found the following review helpful By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've read a good number of books about homeschooling and was surprised and delighted to find this book discusses some topics I've not seen covered in other books. The jacket and chapter titles are not very clear about the content of the book so I will give an overview of what the book contains.
The introduction is one of the best pieces in the book! Guterson's theories on why American's hold public education so near and dear to their hearts, despite knowing the fallbacks and shortcomings. To ponder the notion of not sending our children to school is seen by many as un-American. Guterson feels we are unable to objectively examine schools for what they are because we are blinded by our memories.
Chapter one discusses standardized tests and in the end he states they are "unsound measurements of learning". School tests, quizzes, essays and assignments don't measure learning so much as they measure the child's "approximate degree of adjustment to life at school". Despite the many differences in homeschooling reason and method, the one central theme is the parent delivering an education that is custom designed to the child. Guterson states, "Teaching method and content in abstract are not relevant to academic success". This is refreshing because even amongst homeschoolers we usually encounter opinions of one teaching method or curriculum being superior to another.
Chapter two is a debate the author has with a father who does not support homeschooling and is a devout public school supporter. Debates about public schools as democracies, and the notion that homeschoolers should stay in schools and work to reform them and other topics are covered.
Chapter three discusses socialization and what it is that non-homeschoolers worry about regarding homeschooled children and socialization.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
Forget HOW to homeschool -- what really matters is this beautifully articulated argument for WHY to homeschool. Institutional school is inflicted on generations of Americans in large part because we assume it's necessary to our cultural identity. Guterson makes a cogent, complete, and compelling case that children learn best when their own families take charge, and that the cold war between public schools and everyone else must finally yield to a more integrated, cooperative focus on each child's learning (wherever it may take place). Like Guterson, I am both a homeschooling parent and a public school professional -- this is the book I would have written someday if he hadn't already said it all so well. END
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a Christian I already have biblical reasons for wanting to homeschool. I did however want to get a viewpoint from someone who was not necessarily coming from a biblical perspective. I found this book to be so educational! Seeing the school system through the eyes of a public school TEACHER was refreshing and helped me a great deal in confirming what my husband and I should do for our children. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is currently homeschooling or considering it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tori Billings on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found David Guterson's book several years ago, before he wrote Snow Falling on Cedars and it was so well-written and interesting, I was anxious for him to write more. I wasn't expecting it to be fiction, but it was and only proved my point that he is an excellent writer. Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense shows clearly both sides of the educational choice issue. It gives readers the option of thinking through the choices they make regarding the education of their children, without sounding preachy. Guterson is not homeschooling for religious reasons, he is a *public school teacher* who has decided that what is offered is not optimal for his children. And he is clear that this is not the best choice for everyone. Many homeschooling books pay lip service to this idea, but Guterson spells it out and even plays "Devil's advocate". This is not a book that preaches to the choir. It is fresh, clear and beautifully written. Even if you don't plan to homeschool your own children, read it so you can understand why others choose to do so.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having home schooled since the 1970's I found this book along with the Home Schooling For Excellence by David and Micki Colfax to be the best books on the subject. Although I admit upfront we know the Colfax clan.
What I liked about Why Homeschooling Makes Sense is it's balance, if you will on the subject. Like the author I come from parents who were both professionals (academics and engineering) who while they home schooled me a couple years as a child when I was ill, they also were not that keen on the idea of us doing it ourselves. They have changed their minds now that our son has graduated university and has become a hard wroking well paid human adult.
I like how Mr Guterson shares the tug of war that many secular families deal with when it comes to both wanting the best educational experience for their own child(ren) while also wanting to see public schools survive for the masses who need them. He shared so many of our own feelings in a manner that few have or can. I also agree with him that some parents should not home school, but that parents also need choices in education.
There are numerous home schooling books written by religious home schoolers, or what I call religious or political zealots, so when I find a secular book on the subject that is also AWESOME, I grab it and share it. And one thing as snobbish as it sounds that I love about Family Matters : Why Homeschooling Makes Sense is it shows that people who are well thoughtout types and who are themselves active in a variety of causes and activities, make the BEST home schoolers.
This is a family who like the Colfax family, made sure their children were NOT isolated, but were instead exposed to a variety of activities, be they cultural, political, academic and environmental.
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