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The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling Hardcover – August 7, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Not your typical education book (for starters, it's funny)...Cummings remains inquisitive, thoughtful, and a little unsure of herself in a refreshingly humble way--precisely the qualities a parent should look for in a teacher." 
—TIME Magazine

—People magazine

"The Year of Learning Dangerously
 recounts Quinn Cummings's hilarious crusade to find the best educational path for her daughter. Reading her outrageously entertaining observations not only makes me want to homeschool my (nonexistent) children, but it also makes me want to be Quinn's best friend. A must-read."

—Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter Is the New Black and Jeneration X

“A hilarious, friendly companion to charm and entertain parents and educators, whether they homeschool or not. Honest and direct, Cummings is willing to tell all of her experiences: not just the happy sunshine moments, but the brutal realities of educating and raising children.”

—Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

"If you think homeschooling is crazy, this book might just change your mind. If, after you've read it, you think Quinn Cummings is crazy, you might be correct. Lucky for us, she's the kind of crazy that manages to be insightful and hilarious all at once."

—Alice Bradley, co-author of Let's Panic About Babies!

"In The Year of Learning Dangerously, Quinn Cummings dares to go where few parents have gone before. Her adventures in homeschooling are fascinating, loving and most of all hilarious. This book is a great gift to parents and the people that wonder what make them tick. I loved it."

—Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me at Woof  

About the Author

Quinn Cummings is an Oscar-nominated actress (The Goodbye Girl, Family), and the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Notes from the Underwire. She writes the popular blog The QC Report, and her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Los Angeles Magazine, and Newsweek. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399537600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399537608
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,225,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came across a WSJ article written by this author and immediately loved the way she wrote about homeschool. As someone who just recently began a homeschooling journey for similar reasons (i.e. non-religious reasons), I really connected with what she wrote and promptly pre-ordered her book (something I never do) after perusing her blog for a bit.

Here are my thoughts:
The Good:
Cummings is truly, truly hilarious. She writes extremely well, she is candid, and she tickles your funny bone in that Tina Fey sort of way. I thoroughly enjoyed the way she wrote.
She is insightful, I really loved her thoughts and probing into homeschool culture, history, and motives.
I also enjoyed the simple fact that her writing style was mature and easy to follow. You really get sucked into her book and her endless creative comparisons and similes.
Lastly, by the end of the book you have a thorough, honest overview of her ups and downs with homeschool. Instead of sugar coating things, Cummings is extremely honest about her questioning, the difficulties, and some of the awkward run-ins you have with people who can have such strong opinions about the choices you are making for your child.

The Bad:
I was raving about this book and would easily have given it 5 stars until I got to the section where she starts going to the conventions. I fully believed when I read about the first convention that she truly was interested and moved by the Radical Unschoolers, crazy as they seemed. However, by the time this self-proclaimed feminist was traipsing across the country to dabble with and dress like Fundamentalist Homeschoolers, Gothard, and Homeschool Prommers under the guise of truly being interested or intrigued by their passion or whatnot, I started to doubt her motives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I read Cummings' engaging account of her family's adventures in homeschooling, I feared that my family had merely been clumsily and perhaps foolishly stumbling about among various public, private, online, and homeschooling options in search of that ever elusive ideal schooling environment. To our pleasant surprise, Cummings' book taught us that we might instead be in the vanguard of a new generation of Roam Schoolers, artisans who weave together selected squares of educational fabric from a multitude of schooling environments and learning opportunities. She writes ...

'As our habits evolve, it won't be home schooling as we've known it, but it won't be brick-and-mortar schooling, either. I call it "roam schooling." Imagine that your high-school junior spends half of every day at the brick-and-mortar school up the street. Two afternoons a week, he logs into an art-history seminar being taught by a grad student in Paris. He takes computer animation classes at the local college, sings in the church choir and dives at the community pool. He studies Web design on YouTube. He and three classmates see a tutor at the public library who preps them for AP Chemistry. He practices Spanish on Skype and takes cooking lessons at a nearby restaurant every Saturday morning. Is this home schooling or regular school? Who cares? He's learning.'

As presaged by the title, her writing is quite irreverent, punchy, and witty yet well researched and highly informative. With her development of the concept of Roam Schooling, she helps me better understand my own family's efforts to integrate the strongest and avoid the weakest aspects of home, online, public, and private schooling for both of our boys.
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Format: Hardcover
If laughter is good medicine, you will be getting a Costco sized Rx. As a homeschooler just starting our 2nd year, I was encouraged to read of her similar struggles on so many of the issues that come with teaching your child at home. Trying to find the "pack" with whom you belong is especially challenging, and it was great to share a laugh with someone who has been there/done that. As a "Christian" homeschooler, there was some potential for insult, but her opinions were candid & honest. (This is coming from someone who might want to sneak into a extreme couponing seminar just to see if they really encourage people to clear the shelf of free mustard so the rest of us cannot get a good deal on 1 bottle!) But back to the book... with the school year upon us, it definately helped me to "lighten up!" and not take it all so seriously, for a change.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after reading the article in the WSJ and like the author, we are, homeschooling our two children for non-religious reasons. I had wrongly assumed by the article that the author was sharing what she states in the subtitle - her adventures in homeschooling. If you are interested in homeschooling and wanting to learn what it would be like this book is not for you.
This book is much less about her own adventure in homeschooling and much more about her countless hours trolling blogs, running internet searches, and flying all across the country to fulfill her need to find out about other homeschool communities. Most of these communities I should mention are so far right they have fallen off the plank.
She does not address or research her own community - non-religious need homeschoolers, nor does she research the thousands of families doing private home study through an accredited program as we do, military homeschoolers or COOPS. There is no mention of their scheduling, lesson plans, materials, and curriculum but there is mention and credit to the tutors who helped teach her daughter through the first year while the author was writing this book.
While she and her husband should be commended for pulling their daughter out of a system that seemed to be failing the child, her homeschool efforts seem to stop there. What is offered is strange religious followings, a great deal of humor, and one lesson that we all should take away. That lesson is worth five stars all on it's own. At the end of the book (spoiler alert) the author is trying to assess with the child's father whether they should homeschool another year. One of the factors that they note about their daughter in this decision is that she is truly happy. What a novel idea for all of us as parents to take note!
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