Having become familiar with home education (homeschooling) only since the advent of the Internet and all the new and obvious opportunities for learning that the "digital revolution" in general has gifted to us, I would be the first to admit that the decision to remove my son from school was far easier to make in 2002 than it would have been when Linda Dobson's The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self
was first published in 1995 (coincidentally the year my son was born).
So I have to say from the outset that I'm already an admirer of the author as a "pioneer" of the homeschooling movement.
In The Art of Education
, Linda has a fascinating story to share from a position of great knowledge, understanding, and personal experience and, incidentally, I'm glad she chose not to rewrite this book to try to accommodate the "digital revolution" because it doesn't need that to get its message across: all the essential truths are just as true.
As an Australian, I found the detailed history of America's public school system particularly absorbing and - dare I say it? - highly educational. The author's comparison of the practices of schooling with what we know about how children naturally educate themselves and her skillful prising apart of the two are illuminating. How many parents have I encountered who think "school" and "education" are two words for the same thing? They're not and never have been, and Linda Dobson explains, quite brilliantly, why that's so.
It's her contention that the institution we call "school" has always by its very nature subverted the true meaning of education and is continuing to sell children and parents alike a false bill of goods. I believe her.
But her book is not a critique in itself of a method of educating children that Win Wenger, acknowledged modern day genius and author of the best selling book, The Einstein Factor
, says "has squandered the gifts and potentialities of generations of human beings." It's a call to awaken to the inadequacies of that system (and to its increasing irrelevance in a time when all human knowledge can be readily accessed by any self-motivated individual); to break out of the Stockholm Syndrome, as some people have called it; to explore the wisdom of the art of education based on our individual families' values and priorities.
To reclaim our family, our community and our self. To restore the primacy of the parent in the raising of our children through family-centred learning.
Why we should do so is all here; how we can do so is all here.
In recommending this book to you, I can do no better than to echo Linda Dobson herself: "The art of education as it may be expressed through homeschooling has never been more important or more necessary than it is today. Reading this book could improve your family's lifestyle forever, and providing your child a real education instead of schooling could enrich his life forever, too."
For more information about this book, please visit Linda Dobson's website Parent at the Helm