Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Real Learning

I've been hoping to read this book for many years, since early in our homeschooling journey. Our library was not able to procure it through inter-library loan, but my brother and sister-in-law selected it for me recently as a birthday present. Aren't they wonderful?

This book was published in 2003, when Elizabeth Foss's family was still young. She currently blogs at In the Heart of My Home, if you'd like to see what she's doing now.
The goal of such an education is to surround the child with noble people and books and other things with which to form relationships. For a Catholic parent, the first intimacy we want for our children is a true personal friendship with the Lord. (p. 26) 
The author quotes a lot from Charlotte Mason, Maria Montessori, and St. Edith Stein. Her philosophy of education is a combination of these ideas, so this isn't the best book if you're looking for an introduction to Charlotte Mason. I always think it's nice, though, to see people who are willing to take bits and pieces of different philosophies and create a homeschool that is perfect for their family.

Reading this book helped me realize how far I've come as a homeschooling mom. Many of her recommendations are books I've read and, shockingly, some of them I've decided I didn't like for our homeschool. It's not that they aren't fabulous resources; it's just that I have reached a point where I can pick and choose which I think will be best for us, which is exactly what she did.
Education is an art; it is not a science. There is no perfect method, perfectly applied, which will results in perfectly educated children. There is constant evaluation and adjustment. We cannot begin to outline at the beginning of kindergarten what we are determined to teach for the next twelve years. To do so would be to deny the possibilities of new ideas, new interests, new adventures. Instead, we accept that we cannot cover everything. We know that the holes are a part of the design, and that the design is an art. (pp. 88-89)
There is a nice section on supporting homeschooling parents with children with special needs, specifically mentioning something like sensory processing disorder.
The true fruit of my prayers for patience and understanding was the moment, real and palpable, when I suddenly understood that I needed to accept Christian as he is...There was nothing I could do about the fact that he was more content if I met his need for my presence. To nurture this child and to educate him, I had to give until it hurt. I had to stretch. (p. 169)
In the chapter on burnout, her description of burnout seemed awfully like depression to me. I liked her advice, much of which was similar to what has helped me when going through a temporary phase of chaos in our family, but I would encourage mothers to visit a health professional if those feeling persist.
You are not weak or inadequate if you need your husband's help to care for your family or educate your children. You are married (p. 214)
I did think the book seemed a little harsh for non-homeschoolers. Obviously, I think homeschooling is best for our family, but I know lots of people who send their children to Catholic or public schools who have prayed about that decision and know it is the best for their families.

If you're a Catholic new to homeschooling, you may find this book encouraging and helpful. I am glad I finally got a chance to read it and I've made a note to myself to revisit the Advent section when it's time to plan our own Advent season.

This review is my honest opinion. I received this book as a gift for my birthday. I'm not sure where it was purchased, I but I know you can find it at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts (not an affiliate link).

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your shout-out to non-homeschoolers. I love the idea of homeschooling, and we did really seriously consider it. But like you said, through discerning, talking and prayer, we have decided (at least at this point) the Catholic schools are the best place for our child(ren) and family. I appreciate when others, especially those who homeschool, realize that this is not a decision we took lightly. SO thanks.

    I have read (and even heard) some scathing and really inappropriate things from those who homeschool about those who do not, and likewise from those who use traditional schools about homeschoolers. And I know there are a lot of people of the mindset that when their kids turn 5 (or 2!) they turn them over to the schools and wash their hands of any further responsibility for their education (and even their behavior sometimes) and I will agree that is wrong. But for those of us who really care, we all have the same goal in mind, to educate our children and raise them in the faith so they grow up to be kind, loving, responsible adults etc. etc. etc. Each family definitely has their own path though.

    OK, rant over. But thanks again. Really.


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