Home Schooling book review: Homeschooling for Excellence

I checked out Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax with little expectation of actually liking the book. Mostly I wanted to be thorough and I’ve seen it on lists in some of the homeschooling books and blogs whose philosophy of education has appealed to me.

David and Micki Colfax are considered pioneers of the homeschooling movement—inasmuch as you can call a “movement” a random assortment of individuals doing the same thing for a variety of reasons as numerous as the people who do it. They are homesteaders and started in the 70s, two facts which made me suspect I’d not be very interested in their story.

But a well-written book captivates no matter what the subject. And the first part of the book is not at all what I expected. So far it is a well-written, well-reasoned critique of the public school system.

American schools have become for a veriety of good and bad reasons industrialized—centralized, hierarchical, and standardized. And whereas these characteristics may be entirely appropriate to the production of automobiles and television sets, they are clearly antithetical to education.

Some of it reminds me of lectures given by UD professor Louise Cowan and of the book Unbinding Prometheus: Education for the Coming Age by her husband professor Donald Cowan. Now that I think of it, Dr. Louise’s lecture on the university as nurturing mother (alma mater) was a milestone in my developing philosophy of education.

After the section on why to homeschool, however was the how. This was interesting in a purely theoretical way, but the list is so old that it is quite dated. In fact book lists and materials lists change so quickly that any book I look at now is bound to go out of date in some respects. (Lists of great books or classics don’t change, but that’s the stuff I don’t really need help on anyway.) For that stuff the most valuable resources I’ve found are the various homeschooling blogs. I love to read about various adventures in learning on hte various homeschooling blogs. So inspirational.

This book was a quick read and interesting. It won’t go on my top ten list of homeschooling books mostly because of timeliness issues. But I’m glad I read it.

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