Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Big Book of Unschooling by Sandra Dodd

I received my copy of this new book in the mail a couple of days ago. It is a quick and easy read, well suited for new unschoolers. I didn't find a great deal of compelling or new information because most of the information can be found on Ms. Dodd's website which you can find by clicking on the title of this post. I am learning to tolerate reading from a computer screen because a) it's cheaper, b) it's more eco-friendly, and c) some of my favorite journals are only available online. For those who haven't made this transition and still prefer to hold a book in their hand then this book is a great resource. For everyone else, save your money and visit the website.

A few of my favorite gems found both in the book and on the website:

Unschooling is arranging for natural learning to take place.

Unschooling would be difficult to understand even if it were easy to define. From the point of view of the parent, it is creating and maintaining an environment in which natural learning flourishes.

I like both of the above quotes because they highlight that unschooling isn't passive and doesn't 'just happen'. It happens because parents are dedicated to ensuring it happens.

School as a small part of a rich, healthy family life can be bearable and maybe even fun. School as a guarantee of learning or success is a fantasy school; it's a myth.

I LOVE this! It is difficult to explain your reasons for unschooling to a person who has had great experiences with school. And of course there are those who like to point to people they know who have homeschooled or unschooled and the kids didn't do well. I like to remind them that lots of people in public school don't do well either. This quote sums it up nicely.

A few other interesting tidbits too long to quote include the pages on
strewing and book worship. I must admit that I'd skipped the book worship page before having the book in hand because I was irritated by the idea that books aren't special and wonderful things to be revered. After reading Sandra's logical arguments about other ways of exploring the world being just as special and wonderful I must admit I'm a convert. That doesn't mean I don't still love books, I just don't hold them up on a pedestal as THE BEST way to learn (aside from doing of course) and instead see them for what they are- one tool in my unschooling toolbox. Television, radio, computers and video games are just as valid and valuable for learning as books and it would be unwise for me to reject these tools and rely soley or more heavily on one tool.

I know some of my book loving friends will have the same reaction I had to reading that but I encourage you to look at Sandra's page on book worship before making up your mind. I also encourage you to think about the big picture. When we first began homeschooling, before unschooling, I used to require the kids to read every day despite the fact that they both read at a high school level. They didn't need the practice but I still worshiped books and felt it was important. I never thought of requiring them to use the computer on a daily basis despite the fact that their skills with it were rudementary (especially Kya's). But taking a step back and looking at the big picture I can see that the ability to use a computer is just as important in today's world as the ability to read well, yet I still placed more emphasis on books. I think it all boils down to a pervasive belief that tried and true is always better than new and innovative.

I'll leave you with a short excerpt from the page to ponder:

There was a time when the only way for a kid to get information from outside his home and neighborhood was books. (think Abraham Lincoln, log cabin in the woods far from centers of learning.) Now books tend to be outdated, and an internet search engine can be better for many kinds of information. If Abraham Lincoln had had full-color DVDs of the sights of other countries, of people speaking in their native accents and languages, and of history, he would have shoved those books aside and watched those videos.


CfM Molly said...

Can I borrow this book when you're done?!


Hope said...

Of course! Like I stated in the post its a quick read so I've actually already read it. I'll bring it to you next week.