Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. Confucius

07 September 2011

Book Review - And the Skylark Sings with Me

Hi Everyone,

Today I'm reviewing And the skylark sings with me: Adventures in Homeschooling and Community-Based Eduction, written by veteran homeschooler David H.Albert

Albert and his partner have raised seven homeschooled children between them, and have a strong belief in the value of community involvement for a whole homeschooling experience. With a foreword by Joseph Chilton Pearce of The Magical Child, and reviews by John Taylor Gatto (Dumbing Us Down) and Patrick Farenga (Growing Without Schooling, Learning Without Schooling and Teach Your Own: Revised Edition), this is an unschooling classic.

Albert's passion for providing a rich, individualised experience for his children's education is apparent. He generously shares his family's experience as Ali and Meera embark on their journey through learning. He freely admits the financial restrictions they experienced as homeschoolers and how he and his partner worked in partnership with the children to afford resources such as musical instruments, lessons, concerts, a telescope etc.I found this realism comforting and felt inspired by the tenacity and inventiveness displayed by these children who have a strong desire to learn and a willingness to work toward solutions to make this happen.

Surely this is what education is about: instilling a passion in the learner, leading to a lifelong habit of self-directed learning and fulfillment of goals. To me, this is surely more useful than an ability to memorise and recite facts that others deem important yet have little meaning to the learner on a personal level.

The ability of the author to see the appealing and not so appealing habits of intelligent, confident learners caused me to smile in recognition on several occasions. One example he cites on page 60 of the book follows:

Ali developed the somewhat annoying habit of correcting scientific or other misinformation offered by others within her earshot, whether these corrections were solicited or no, and it took some doing on our part to at least tone down if not cure her of the habit.

This experience is all too familiar in our home, and I find his down-to-earth account of living with children who are passionate learners charming in it's refusal to romanticise the unschooling journey.

In my opinion, And the Skylark Sings with Me is one of the most useful, accessible books on natural learning around. It is intelligent, thoughtful, without pretense, and I will revisit many times over the years when I need inspiration.

Talk Soon, Cynthia x