Thursday, February 19, 2009

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense

Book Review by Tracy Million Simmons
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
By David Guterson

First, I should say that when I picked up this book, I was already a homeschooling convert. I believed in homeschooling and, as a personal choice, was beginning to lean toward the route of unschooling – doing away with the traditional aspects of “schooling” altogether.

None-the-less, I picked up David Guterson’s book because I am always on the lookout for intelligent arguments that examine all sides of educational issues. Guterson did not disappoint me.

Guterson is a high school English teacher whose own children, three boys, are homeschooled. My husband also teaches in a high school, so I was especially interested in how Guterson came to the decision to homeschool and how he reconciled homeschooling with his career as a teacher.

He presents a very balanced picture of the pros and cons of homeschooling. Using his father, a lawyer who is pretty much against homeschooling, for a reference point – you get good, solid reasoning from both sides of the homeschooling vs. public education debate.

Using examples from students in his classroom and his own children at home, the book is filled with many personal experiences that help you to see where Guterson is coming from. He addresses many of the typical concerns about homeschooling, like socialization. But he also addresses many concerns you don’t usually deal with in books about homeschooling. He presents some very intelligent arguments against homeschooling as presented by his father and some of some of his friends. As interesting as the arguments themselves, are Guterson’s responses – the acknowledgement of the validity of the arguments as well as his reasoning for going against the arguments anyway.

In the introduction (pg. 9) he writes, “I have not encouraged parents to withdraw their children from schools, nor have I meant to offer homeschooling as a panacea for our nation’s educational ills. Finally, I do not claim any sort of moral superiority for homeschooling parents nor do I hold them up as exemplary. My central notion has been a simple one: that parents are critical to education and therefore public educators – and everyone else – can learn much from those who teach their own.”

As strongly as I feel about homeschooling my own children – I found this book to be an excellent tool for sharing, especially with friends and family who are not quite convinced that homeschooling is the way to go. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is just beginning to consider homeschooling as an option or to someone who would like a gentle way to introduce the subject to less-than-enthusiastic friends or family.
first published at the original KS Homeschool website, January 2006

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