I admit, quite freely, that I am an expert on nothing. However, when I read this book’s section on unschooling, I don’t see anything that I recognize.
Yes, I realize that there are MANY ways to homeschool; and there are multiple ways to unschool.
Unfortunately this author spends most of her time and space talking about the ‘preparation of the environment’ and very little about joy and love of learning.
And for some reason that I don’t understand, she links unschooling to the Montessori method.
Now I realize that ‘radical unschooling’ is not for everyone. But even non-radical, just normal ‘relaxed’ unschoolers might find it difficult to see themselves in these statements:
~ ‘….end up trying to emulate a well-ordered TV-free home environment! Socks come in matching pairs, cooking pots nest inside each other, cleaning implements have their proper storage places, and so forth…’
~ ‘Unschooling parents don’t just lie on the couch while the kids do whatever they feel like. They engage in active projects and outings of all kinds, taking the chidlren along from babyhood onward. They anxiously select the best possible educational resources and build more and more bookshelves to house them. Often they strictly control TV watching or don’t even own a TV. The same applies to console games, although computer and online games are a bit tougher proposition!’ (emphasis added)
~ ‘Montessori’s influence is clearly evident in the way many unschoolers almost obsessively observe their children. year after year of Growing Without Schooling is filled with the most meticulous possible observations of children learning in home and real-world situations….’
Ok, beyond those quotes, which get at the heart of my issues with this book, there are a couple of things that bother me.
First, there is no mention whatsoever of the influence of Sandra Dodd. Even if one does not agree with her take on unschooling, I think it is a misleading and inaccurate description of unschooling to essentially redact that influence. There’s not even a footnote that indicates the existence of the unschooling subculture of radical unschooling.
Second, a book that was published in 2004 shouldn’t portray unschooling so theoretically. Even if unschooling’s roots are within the Montessori method, it has grown, changed and evolved. Tying the approach to Maria Montessori to such an exclusory extent makes this section virtually useless.
Ok, so one might ask, why do I even care what this author has to say about unschooling?
My answer is simple:
If her description of unschooling is something that I cannot recognize, then how can I know if her words of advice regarding any other method are worthwhile?
So this book will be returned to the library. And I hope that no patron seeking indepth and practical information about unschooling will turn to it.
No, for that, I recommend a google search. 😀