Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Christian Unschooling-a book review

So, just because I have started a blog specifically for my children's unschooling journeys, does not mean you get out of hearing about it here. Those are for documentation purposes. This is my rant pad:)
While surfing through amazon.com, a site I should be banned from as I always buy more than I get on to buy, I stumbled across the book Christian Unschooling by Teri J Brown with Elissa M Wahl. I went ahead and bought it, being intrigued by the title. I guess I hadn't really thought about what I was doing as being controversial within my religious community, but the more I read the book, the more it made sense that it could be, but that also, at the same time, it made so much more sense that what we were doing was more in line with those beliefs.
This book is a quick read at only 133 pages. It is one I would quickly recommend as a starter into unschooling as a Christian as it sets a good picture of what that entails. It has several chapters written by the authors explaining what CU is and some of the ideas and arguments for and against it, but the bulk of the book is short essays by CU families, which is a great glimpse into how these two ideas work together. Many homeschoolers argue that being a Christian and unschooling are incompatible as unschooling is too "chaotic" and God is a God of order. Rather, as we believe and is also pointed out in the book, unschooling as a Christian really puts the family in a position to fully rely on God as the direction for their education. We are depending on Him instilling in us where we go next both as individual learners and as families. The examples of "typical" days (though in most unschool households there really aren't those) are nice for beginning families to see that they are not being lazy or failing. They are simple stepping back and letting God take the reigns, which at the beginning I think, does take some clearing time where it seems that nobody is doing anything of value. Gradually you fall into a rhythm of knowing when it is Him directing your next footstep and you are soon learning all the time. Even those lazy movie days seem to produce ideas and experiments as you search for some item in the movie that you had a question about, or a fact that tweaked our interest.
Overall, experienced unschoolers will find it a quick pick me up and reassurance that what they are doing is not heretical, while those thinking of jumping in will see it as a good outline for what they hope to achieve. I must say the writing itself could have been improved-a pet peeve of mine as I could have edited simple grammatical errors all through, but it was written well enough to read easily. And the back contains quite a few resources for the beginner to check out. I found we had already stumbled across a lot of them just in our time on the internet. As a side note, I also believe there are so many resources out there that it is important to pick you favorites and stick with them, or risk getting overwhelmed, burnt out, or spending all your time at the computer trying to use them all.
I am happy to loan the book out to any locals who would like to read it. Just drop me a line and I will bring it the next we meet!

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