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How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education

by Susan Wise Bauer

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-393-28596-3
Publisher: Norton

A manifesto with a lesson plan: home-schooling champion Bauer (The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, 2015, etc.) continues her case for educating outside the system.

“When an artificial system classifies and segregates people (as opposed to cell phones, say, or sewage), some people will inevitably fit into the system better than others.” So observes the author, who goes on to say that she was one who didn’t—and managed to get through a doctorate without the high school diploma that we all supposedly require, having gotten into college in the first place with a “mom-generated transcript.” Some children need the K-12 system, writes Bauer. Others don’t and can actually be harmed by what is, after all, something geared to “a Platonic child, one who doesn’t suddenly melt down, or get overwhelmed by a tidal wave of hormones, or unexpectedly need fourteen hours of sleep.” In any event, Bauer urges, the parent has to take charge: if a child remains in school but has problems, then it’s up to the parent to figure out why Johnny can’t read or Jenny is bored. The possibilities are manifold when it comes to why: autism may be at work, or giftedness, or otherness that the system isn’t able to accommodate. Bauer writes in a steadily reassuring tone before really broaching the subject of home schooling, which, she notes, is not for everyone—but then, she adds, if you’re battling the system because your child is lost, bored, buried, or bullied, “then you’re already spending tremendous amounts of energy fighting to change those things” and might as well take on the task of teacher yourself. On that point, Bauer offers much of practical value, urging, for instance, that we misinterpret the Common Core to mean that certain courses be part of the curriculum when it’s really certain skills that need to be mastered.

A welcome operator’s manual for parents of school-age children, inside or outside the K-12 paradigm.