Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Educate Emma: Books: The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings
"Think homeschooling is only for a handful of eccentrics on either end of the political spectrum? Think again. Today in America, two million primary- and secondary-school students are homeschooled. Growing at a rate of 10 percent annually, homeschooling represents the most dramatic change in American education since the invention of the mimeograph—and the story has only just begun.
In The Year of Learning Dangerously, popular blogger, author, and former child actor Quinn Cummings recounts her family’s decision to wade into the unfamiliar waters of homeschooling—despite a chronic lack of discipline, some major gaps in academic knowledge, and a serious case of math aversion. (That description refers to Quinn.)
Trying out the latest trends, attending key conferences (incognito, of course), and recounting the highlights and lowlights along the way, Quinn takes her daughter’s education into her own hands, for better and for worse. Part memoir, part social commentary, and part how-not-to guide, The Year of Learning Dangerously will make you laugh and make you think. And it may or may not have a quiz at the end. OK, there isn’t a quiz. Probably."
The most immediate and delightful thing about this particular memoir is Cummings' writing style. My mother adores memoirs, and I hear regularly of how great premises are lost on clunky writing. I really wasn't expecting Cummings to have such a witty and tight style, and that surprise set me up to enjoy that book immensely.
The Year of Living Dangerously won't be anything new for a seasoned homeschooler such as myself, but it's nice to relive the nostalgia. Cummings does an exceptional job of showing all the various homeschooling communities - the New Age, the religious, online, those who homeschool due to the system's failure, etc. It's a really good intro to the complexities of the educational system. Cummings also uses her own experiences trying to teach her daughter for a more personal touch. She proves that just because a parent may be an inadequate teacher in a subject, it doesn't mean there aren't further resources for their child to utilize. I also really loved the ending of the book, and especially the kind of educational utopia that Cummings describes.
This book is definitely worth reading for those who are interested in the reasons why some people homeschool, and who also want to find new educational resources. It's funny, well structured, and accessible. Try it out. 4 and a half flowers.