The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling

Quinn Cummings. Perigree, $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-399-53760-8
Cummings’s witty memoir records her family’s homeschooling experience and offers a critique of “mainstream” homeschoolers. A blogger and former child actor, Cummings (Notes from the Underwire) pulled her daughter, Alice, from the public school system after feeling that Alice wasn’t meeting her potential, worried that increased homework loads would leave Alice “less free time to follow a sudden curiosity.” The family sets off on a haphazard homeschooling plan for Alice’s sixth-grade year, dabbling in various methodologies ranging from hyperstructured online charter school approaches to active avoidance of structure before finding some middle ground with live, online classes taught by credentialed teachers. After recognizing and dismissing common concerns about socialization, Cummings launches into a brief history of compulsory education and the birth of modern homeschooling. She then walks through various subsets of homeschoolers and their approaches—from the “unschoolers” to Christian fundamentalists. In an effort to find her niche within the homeschooling world, Cummings attends meetings and conferences with homeschoolers ranging from the most liberal to religiously motivated conservatives (this latter group being the founders of the modern homeschooling movement). Her own story, and that of her daughter, occasionally feels overshadowed by her larger critique of the movement, but Cummings’s self-deprecating humor and parental earnestness makes for an enjoyable journey. Agent: Kate Garrick, DeFiore and Company. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 08/07/2012
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-399-53774-5
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-101-61071-8
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