THE DAN RILEY SCHOOL FOR A GIRL: An Adventure in Home Schooling by Dan Riley

THE DAN RILEY SCHOOL FOR A GIRL: An Adventure in Home Schooling

Email this review


Masquerading as a report on home schooling, a tale of father-daughter conflict played out over eighth-grade English and math. Schoolteacher-turned-writer Riley kept his daughter Gillian home from school, intending to redirect her priorities from socializing to studying and transform her failing grades into an appreciation for learning. When the year began, the relationship between father and daughter was adversarial at best: ""Gillian and I were Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert...Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes...Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, child and parent, each trapped on the opposite side of the Force."" Riley pleads guilty to temporary insanity in one demonstration of tough love: Angry over something he no longer remembers, he abandoned Gillian on a lonely road, expecting her to apologize and plead to return home. Gillian called his bluff and set off down the road, and it was Dad who apologized and pleaded. Determined to keep his cool at least during school hours, Riley launched the school year with a genial lesson in bread-making accompanied by music from Phantom of the Opera. Gillian drew her line in the sand -- she would bake the bread but not eat it. In fact, these two stubborn people worked hard at both school and understanding each other. Lessons learned from books (The Diary of Anne Frank), movies (Boyz 'N the Hood), computers, daily newspapers, a family trip to Europe, and, yes, pages of math problems shaped both father and daughter. The year ended with Gillian ready to move on to the real world. Intelligent commentary on education, politics, and the problems that adolescents face -- with excerpts from Gillian's journal -- make this more than a he said/she said document. By turns wry, witty, sometimes wise, but resolutely outspoken, this volume brings father and daughter face to face as people, not icons in a Freudian myth.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1994
Page count: 212pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin