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Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement. Hardcover – September 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0691058184 ISBN-10: 0691058180 Edition: First Printing

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology
  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Printing edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691058180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691058184
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,216,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Home-schooling has become an elaborate social movement, with its own celebrities, rituals and networks, which now encompasses more than a million American children, observes Hamilton College sociologist Mitchell L. Stevens in Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement. Moving from why parents opt for home-schooling to the long-term effects on their children, he draws on interviews with a mix of parents from fundamentalist Christians to pagans and educational radicals and persuasively contextualizes the movement within the "organizational strategies of the progressive left and the religious right" in their attempt to preserve their core set of values: "the sanctity of childhood and the primacy of family in the face of an increasingly competitive and bureaucratized society."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"Stevens spent ten years interviewing home-schooling families, watching them teach, pitching tents at their summer camps, hanging out at their conferences, and reading their publications. He has written a careful, intelligent book"--Margaret Talbot, Atlantic Monthly

"In the press and on television, home-schoolers are portrayed mainly as white Americans of strong Christian background, most of whom are right-wing fundamentalists. Stevens's study confirms this generic picture, yet his study helps us go beyond it. . . [T]he intellectual origins of home-schooling are surprisingly nonsectarian."--Howard Gardner, New York Review of Books

"Kingdom of Children is about the grown-ups behind the not-so peaceful movement. . . . As Stevens makes clear, those drawn to home schooling tend to be a stronger-willed, contentious lot, and removing them from the public school system doesn't make them less so."--Rebecca Jones, American School Board Journal

"For anyone interested in home schooling, this is the book to read."--Choice

"This book is extremely well written and thought provoking.... Kingdom of Children will no doubt play an important role in the much-needed sociological dialogue surrounding home schooling."--Ed Collom, American Journal of Sociology

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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You can try to read it for fun,too.
And "how homeschoolers assemble the help they need to get the job done."
Beth DeRoos
This book is an excellent introduction into home schooling today.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Scott W. Somerville on September 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Home education is such a remarkable modern movement that it has long deserved close scrutiny by serious social scientists. Mitchell Stevens has given the American home school movement a long and careful look. For almost a decade (from 1990 to 1989), this dedicated sociologist met with home schoolers singly and in groups. This book will be "must" reading for home school leaders of every persuausion, including those who are openly uncomfortable with the concept of "home school leaders."
As a sociologist, Dr. Stevens is interested in how home schoolers went about constructing an entirely new set of organizational structures. He delves deeply into the differing "schema" of the differing wings of the home school movement, and explores how different paradigms affect developing institutions. He notes the details ("inclusive" home school groups arrange chairs in circles for highly democratic meetings, while "Christian" home school groups routinely sit in pews while their "leaders" address them from pulpits), and then draws broad but credible conclusions from them.
As a home schooler who has been in "leadership" in Christian home schooling since 1986, I was impressed at the depth and thoughtfulness of this book. While I may disagree with him on certain points, this is a book that no thoughtful home schooler will be able to ignore. Although I am deeply committed to a united home school movement, Dr. Stevens has spelled out the specifics of how that movement is divided at present, and the deeper reasons of why it has grown apart. The challenge to home schoolers who want to bridge those divisions is now clear. The solutions are not.
Opponents of home schooling will find little to love in this book.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Beth DeRoos HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
We have been homeschooling since the early 70's. earlier if you consider my homeschooling in the 50's. This is why I was eager to read this book and why I recommend it. Because the author gives the reader one of the most complete and balanced view from the outside, of who homeschools and why.
I also like the fact that the author was interested in parents and families and not simply whether or not the homeschooled child tests better, gets enough socialization, have their own friends and get into college. What the author set out to find is what drives the parent to homeschool. And what "practical household decisions" make homeschooling possible. Because as he notes "conventional parenting is a lot of work" and he "suspected that homeschooling is even more labor intensive." And he set out to find out "how people decided that they could afford the time, lost wages, and mental energy that homeschooling costs." And "how homeschoolers assemble the help they need to get the job done."
He also include the study in 1995 that sociologist "Maralee Mayberry and her colleagues released the best comprehensive statistical study of home educators to date." The authors fifty-six item questionnaire included measures of parental occupation, educational attainment, religious affiliation, household size and income and the divisions of domestic labour. Working with a sample of home educating families in Nevada, Utah and Washington the researchers painted a picture of a predominantly white, middle class and religious movement. Ninety-eight percent of the survey respondents were white 1 percent were Asian Americans, the rest a mix of African American, Native American and Hispanics. Most parents were under age forty and the vast majority or 97% were married.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Fabio on December 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mitchell Stevens provides the first in depth study of the American home schooling movement. Instead of assuming that home schoolers are right wing fanatics or left wing bohemians, he takes the time to attend their meetings, visit their homes and read their literature. From his in depth study, he concludes that home schooling is an activity that grows out of long traditions in American politics and is an honest, and possibly successful, attempt at reconstructing education so that it meets the needs of children.
The focus of Mitchell's book is the division between home schoolers who view home schooling as a form of Christian education and those who view home schooling as a secular activity. Mitchell's thesis is that this division defines much of the discourse, organization and politics of home schooling. It also reflects concepts of womanhood, childhood and family.
From a sociological perspective, I think that this book's biggest contributions is an implicit critique of some themes in the sociology of education, where schools are seen as propagators of the status quo. Here, we have an example of how an institution, public education, is relaxing its grip and new forms of education are being created. This is not to say that public education is on the path to extinction, but this book shows how viables alternatives to dominant institutions emerge.
To summarize: first in depth sociological work on home schooling, takes home schoolers seriously as people, clear
writing and very little jargon and furthers our understanding of educational institutions and social change. A sure winner!
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