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One man's very long philosphical rant
on March 21, 2013
Although I am not motivated by idleness but rather by what I consider to be the best interest of my children (and family), I agree with many of the suggestion brought forth by the author - relax more, let the kids do their thing, simplify life, spend more time out of doors, down with TV, down with plastic and toys and organized activities, etc. So really, I should have liked this book, for even if it didn't offer me any new ideas (preaching to the choir after all) it is nice to have one's opinions validated. But the whole thing felt like a long essay on one man's thoughts on parenting, with the occasional references to Locke and Rouseau (because they are so relevant today??) thrown in. It was nothing but anecdotes from his family (they have three kids, live in the English countryside, raise animals and drink copiously, from what I understand). Also his occasional digs at the government and at being a slave to ones job left me mostly annoyed - what about those of us who enjoy our work? Shouldn't that be an aspiration in life if one so chooses?
Another area where I feel Hodgkinson goes to extremes is in his anti-school rants, homeschooling apparently being the ideal situation. While one can certainly lament the state of education overall and the emphasis on tests and standardized curriculum in particular, there are still schools out there that are well worth sending your kids to. I found his opinions on curriculum contradictory at times. On page 81 he says "It would be a thousand times better, as things stand, to chuck overboard all the drawing and painting and music and modeling and pseudo-science and "graphic" history and "graphic" geography and "self expression," all the lot." Instead he suggests teaching just reading, writing and arithmetic. But then later on in the book he talks about how great music is and that he actually teaches kids at his kid's school how to play the ukulele. In short, I don't agree with this views on education.