Every month I will be writing a book review on a book that has influenced my journey. This month I chose Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer for my book review. Rethinking School has been one of the most powerful books in my journey to start A One-Room Schoolhouse.
To start, Susan Wise Bauer is one of the go-to gurus of the homeschool world. Many refer to her book The Well-Trained Mind as the “Bible” of homeschooling. Many homeschool groups refer to this book as “required reading”.
Furthermore, www.welltrainedmind.com offers a comprehensive classical curriculum, classes, training, and a host of other academic resources. The blog is insightful, informative, and extremely useful. Additionally, Bauer is a professor of American literature at The College of William and Mary.
(Side note, I did my graduate work at William and Mary. At the time, I had no idea that a professor worked on campus that would become such a huge influence on my life! Crazy!)
I was on my weekly Friday trip to library storytime with my kids when inspiration grabbed me. In the new release display, something caught my eye: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer.
I checked out this book and devoured it. It spoke to every one of my concerns about public education! (I talked about my concerns in this post.) It was a validating, inspirational read that gave me the idea for the structure of A One-Room Schoolhouse. Additionally, it gave me the courage to take action.
I can’t count how many times I have recommended reading Rethinking School. I found it to be a balanced and honest assessment of our public-school system. In addition, you will be presented with up-to-date and accurate information about the many educational choices available to every family.
Rethinking School will help you understand the modern education system and how you can help your children get the best education possible. I especially like how this book presents ideas for every family to help “flex” the school system regardless of your ability or opinions on homeschooling, public schooling, or private schooling.
Some of the most important content in Rethinking School are the questions that this book answers. Even as an experienced educator, I found much of the content new and informative.
I knew little of my educational choices outside of public, private, and charter schools. The answers to many, if not all, or your school choice questions will be answered in this well-researched book.
Here are frequently asked questions to which Rethinking School provides current, well-reached answers:
- Should my student attend an accredited school?
- What courses are necessary for my student’s education?
- Does my high school-aged student need a diploma?
- When should I start my student in Kindergarten?
- Should I allow my student to be held back a grade?
- Should I allow my child to skip a grade?
- How do I get my student special education services?
- What are an IEP and a 504?
- How much homework is really necessary?
- How can to get my child help without making an enemy out of the teacher or principal?
- What are my other educational options outside of the public-school system?
- What is the “common core” and why is everyone so mad about it?
- Does my student really have to take all those tests at the end of the year?
- How do I homeschool my child?
- If not college, then what?
My takeaway after reading Rethinking Education was simply: one size does not fit all.
Students are unique as the snowflakes that fall in the mountains or the waves the crash on the beach. Every student comes to school with their own strengths, weakness, and learning styles. Many even come with disadvantages, disorders, and disabilities.
Seldom are these individual traits a perfect match for any given classroom. But, in modern education, students are asked to conform and learn. They are the square peg and the modern classroom in the round hole.
The way we do school is not natural.
Children are not prone to sit for six to seven hours a day at a desk with a group of same-aged peers, learning a prescribed set of objectives, in a uniform amount of time. In many classrooms, each child must conform to this routine to become a successful student.
This is the system we have come to believe is the only option for children. But it is not. I challenge you to think beyond this system; to believe that there are students that might fit in the round hole, but that the round hole is not the only or necessarily the best choice. In Rethinking School Bauer states:
“That’s because artificial systems, like our K-12 educational system, are powerful. They acquire a life of their own and become the framework that organizes our existence. In other words, the way we currently do education has become a paradigm, or a matrix: an invisible pair of glasses through which we view everything else.”
Think Outside the Box
If you are looking for educational answers outside of the box, this is the book for you. After reading Rethinking School, I felt empowered as an expert in my children’s education. It has helped me create A One-Room Schoolhouse for my children and others that are joining us.
Have you read Rethinking School? I would love to know what you thought. Drop a comment below or send me an email.