- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense 1st Edition
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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. Counter arguments are made for common misconceptions and the value that homeschooled children get from forming relationships with people of all ages throughout the community. An interesting idea that schooled students are so far disconnected from their own parents and their parents work lives that some students seek a close relationship with a teacher, to form a relationship with an adult mentor since their own parents are away from them the majority of their lives. Guterson feels that the social lives of schooled children is both dangerous and unhealthy, and that homeschooled children do have peer pressure but are less peer obsessed.
Chapter four is a dialogue between the teacher and his students about homeschooling and why he homeschools. To answer the question about "is homeschooling legal and should it be" the author brings his father, an attorney, in to the class for a lecture on the topic. Of note is that his father is opposed to homeschooling but supports the freedom Americans have and should continue to have to homeschool their children if that is their desire.
Chapter five is a history of childhood and formal education, a good broad overview, albeit dry.
Chapter six delves into the educational philosophies of Plato, Rousseau, Dewey, and the child-centered learning enthusiasts: Steiner, Montessori, Neill, Pestaluzzi and Froebel (although all still advocate mass institutionalized schooling as the delivery method). Then Illich and Holt are reviewed as the philosophers who advocate that learning can take place outside of a school building. This chapter gives a good overview and if the reader wants to learn more, he can research these educational philosophers.
Chapter seven is a dialogue with an acquaintance that opposes homeschooling. This chapter focuses on the notion that in our modern day America, to maintain our lifestyle requires dual income families and therefore schools must be used as babysitters. There is no discussion here about successful homeschoolers of single income families or single parent families. Interesting dialogue about the role the Federal Government and private businesses affect parents' abilities to be available to care for and homeschool their children. The author feels the real educational problems are rooted in the breakdown of families but doesn't spend too much time on this subject (despite the title of the book).
Chapter eight discusses childhood and education and learning before formal schooling. Traditional peoples are discussed and looked to for information about how children learn what they need to know to live, learning various skills and values from different people in the community (rather than inside of a schoolhouse). Guterson states that in creating schools we've removed learning from life and believe that learning can only take place inside of a school building.
Chapter nine covers learning theory and the notation that educational psychology and learning theory were developed after schooling was created 150 years ago. Despite knowing this information, schools have not changed their ways, which is a scary thought. Discusses Skinner, Piaget, and Bruner as having important ideas about how education should be changed.
Chapter ten discusses educational reform. Guterson feels that educational reform should be through strengthening families. Ideas for ways to public schools and homeschoolers to work together as a team are explored.
Chapter eleven is a discourse about what it is like for a homeschooling parent to be grilled by non-homeschoolers about the why's and wherefores of homeschooling. A rant about people assuming the father doesn't play a part in the education of the children is in this chapter along with a discussion of the men's movement. Guterson reminds us that parents have always been teachers and that it is only recently that teaching has become a salaried profession. Discussions about parents that can't wait for summer vacation to end so they can be rid of spending time with their children and about sports as the only link between disconnected fathers and schooled children is reviewed.
These are the meaty topics that are discussed in detail in this book. As I stated earlier, it is not a dry volume, it is quick to get to the point and studies and examples are given when appropriate. This is a great read if you are interested in the philosophy of homeschooling and schooling rather than "how to homeschool".