I’m very happy to be hosting Ross Mountney on her blog tour. When we started thinking about home ed, Ross’s book Learning Without School was the first I read. I went on to get to know Ross online and loved her other books, A Funny Kind of Education and A Home Education Notebook – they’re so warm, supportive and inspiring.
I’m so pleased Keris has given me the opportunity to stop by here as part of my blog tour and have a chat.
I got to meet Keris through home education – it’s amazing how it increases your community.
As writers Keris and I inevitably got talking about which books influenced us the most with regard to home education, so that’s what I thought I’d talk about here.
I suppose the first book that really opened my eyes to alternative ways of looking at schooling came to me when I was studying for a degree in education – ironic, don’t you think? For it was John Holt’s book ‘How Children Fail’ which started it all off.
I wasn’t teaching for long before I spotted that some of what went on there wasn’t doing children a lot of good, both learning and environment wise. It just wasn’t suited to some of them. Unlike my colleagues, I saw this as a fault of the system – not as a fault of the child which is mostly how they saw it. Finding Holt’s book was a revelation, confirming much of what I’d observed. I then went onto read some of his others. ‘How Children Learn’ being among them.
I also read ‘Deschooling Society’ by Ivan Illich which increased my scepticism about the system enormously.
At the time, I kept these thoughts to myself; they were not welcomed by other professionals and now I’m less naive I see why – people don’t like their boats of conventional thinking rocked!
When it came time for our children to go to school we decided to let them try it out. It worked for a teeny while, but when we watched their passion for learning – passion for anything really – dramatically deteriorate we took the leap into home education. Never looked back.
At that time there were few books about it. Those that were available I devoured with relish. These were ‘Free Range Education’ by Terry Doughty, ‘The Teenage Liberation Handbook’ by Grace Llewellyn and ‘Schools Out’ by Jean Bendell. All very thought provoking, however there was little to guide decisions about home education or outline how it works, which is why I wanted to write ‘Learning Without School: Home Education’.
I next discovered the work of Roland Meighan and the Educational Heretics Press and read several of his titles, in particular ‘Natural Learning and the Natural Curriculum’, which were most fascinating.
However, the snag with educational books is that they can be too jargonistic for many parents to enjoy reading or be bothered with (me neither), so I wondered how I could get some educational ideas and support out to parents through a different type of book. This is how ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ came about.
All this seems ages ago now. During those final Home Ed years I thought what a long haul home educating is and perhaps those continuing years also needed some support as well as the newbies, hence the idea for my newest book ‘A Home Education Notebook‘.
I find ideas about education in all sorts of books – ‘The Element’ by Ken Robinson springs to mind – as well as books about children’s development. I’ve recently read ‘How Children Learn at Home’ by Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison which outlines their study of home schooling children. It reinforces much of what home ed parents discover about their children’s ability to learn without formal teaching and classrooms.
Education and learning permeates everything we do, changing all the time and dating everything that is written very quickly. So there is always a place for new ideas and new books to help inspire and support, like all those books did for me and for which I’m so very grateful. I know how hard it is to get less mainstream books out there although the Internet is changing that a little.
But long may these less mainstream books survive!
You’ll find details of all my books and information about home education on my site; http://rossmountney.wordpress.com