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Review: The Art of Education: Reclaiming your Family, Community, and Self

 The Art of Education

The Art of Education:  Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self, 15th Anniversary Edition, by Linda Dobson was launched July 4th.    I had hoped to have a review posted by then, but this is one of those ‘big’ books that takes time and thought to digest.  So, instead of meeting my goal, I took the necessary time to provide a fair and balanced review. 

The Art of Education is a passionate, eloquent expose of public schools and many related institutions in North American life.  It is also an urgent and informative invitation to home learning so that our children will be able to base their lives on the US founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

The 200+ pages of The Art of Education discuss both “Wisdom of the Art” and “Benefits of the Art.”

In the first section, “Wisdom of the Art,” Linda points out the institutions that form the background of US society, explains what education is and isn’t, and encourages readers to examine their priorities.  She helps families create their personal education philosophies, explodes the top five myths about homeschooling, and provides encouragement to those who feel like lonely home education pioneers.

She follows this with “Benefits of the Art,” where the benefits of home education for the parents, the children, and the community are analysed.  The home education she espouses ‘comes from within’ and is often called un-schooling, child-led learning, relaxed homeschooling, or delight-directed education.  She gives a dozen simple starting points for a rich lifestyle that will benefit children, parents, and communities.

My Thoughts

The basic premise of The Art of Education is that life’s meaning is about striving for the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   In order to do so, says Linda Dobson, we need to strip away school-induced conditioning from our Self, understand who we are, and act according to our inner wisdom.  We must learn to trust her inner wisdom that home education is good for all and will benefit our Selves, our children, and our communities, leading to greater happiness and meaning for all. 

This is where Linda and I part company.  I would rather trust God than anybody’s Self—even my own Self.  And this is why much of her book will sadden Christians.

However, Linda’s passionate concern for children and society is so sincere that I value her book and can overlook certain statements.  At least she sees that something is wrong, she’s willing to point it out, and she’s doing her best to correct it.  For this I applaud and admire her.

Furthermore, she clearly discerns issues that are relevant to Christian homeschoolers as well, since we’ve all been influenced by the public school model:

  • There’s more to life than intellectual development and preparation for a job.
  • It’s crucial to balance intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional development.
  • Mere knowledge is not the goal, but action is.
  • Many people love to depend on ‘experts,’ as schooling has conditioned us to do.
  • Schooling can quench learning.
  • Education is not the same as being programmed or conditioned.
  • Mom does not need to be a teacher nor does she always need to teach; she can learn along with her children.
  • We must accept responsibility for our children’s education and life.
  • Kids need time to reflect;  their lives should not be scheduled full of programmed activities.
  • People, young and old, need to be involved in each other’s lives, both in families and communities.
  • …and many more.

 

Many of the points Linda mentions should be carefully considered by all home educating parents, no matter what approach they choose. I plan to implement her dozen simple starting points more consciously, even though we already use them much of the time.  

If you’re looking for a Christian how-to-homeschool book, you will be disappointed.  If, however, you are looking for a thought-provoking discussion of US society and how home education can solve some of its problems, you will love this book.  If you are a textbook and schedule person, this book will challenge your thinking; if you’re a ‘relaxed homeschooler,’ you will feel validated.  Whatever your situation, your family could benefit from some of Linda’s insights.  (And Linda could benefit from your prayers.)

To find out more about The Art of Education visit Linda’s website.   You can download the book for $8.95 US.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary download of The Art of Education from Linda Dobson in order to review it.

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4 Comments

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  3. LarabaK says:

    I find books about how messed up our educational system is to be quite depressing. I’m so thankful our kids aren’t in it, but feel sad about all the children growing up in such an unhealthy environment. Of course, there are schools and there are schools, there are teachers and there are teachers. Some young people emerge from the US school system with their faith and self image godly and intact. Praise God for that! But I didn’t, and my husband didn’t either — and things haven’t gotten any better in the last 25 years.

  4. Stacy says:

    Very interesting summation. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

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