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Favorite Books on Homeschooling - Livin' the Good Life

Feb. 12th, 2009

09:50 pm - Favorite Books on Homeschooling

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I just finished the book NEILL OF SUMMERHILL by Croall. What a wild read! I could not stop reading it even though it was tedious and overly-detailed, making it slow going. Basically, it's a biography of A.S. Neill, the creator of the school, Summerhill, in England, which he founded in 1921. Neill was born in Scotland in 1883 into a poor family whose parents followed the child-raising practises of the day, which was to regularly BEAT their kids. Neill's father was the school master, so not only did Neill get beaten ("caned") at home, but at school as well. His father seemed to have a particular dislike for him, showing strong favoritism toward Neill's siblings. Neill was singled out as his father's "only disappointment", and he was labelled "good for nothing". As a reaction to his harsh upbringing, Neill, as an adult, developed a child-raising philosophy that he called "giving the child complete freedom", but should really have been called "total anarchy"! He started a school, Summerhill, which ran on this philosophy, and it was the subject of continuous world-wide controversy for the rest of Neill's life. He died at the school in 1973 at the age of 89. The book had hundreds of fascinating and often disturbing stories about how Neill ran his school, which I won't go into. I read his original book describing his school back in the late 60s when I first became interested in education, and I remember liking some of his ideas, but finding most of them distasteful and in my opinion, just plain wrong!! Nevertheless, he put me on the track of learning about education. Even though I was not married yet, I was thinking ahead to how I would raise and educate my future children. I moved from reading Neill to reading John Holt. After that, I branched out to Montessori and Waldorf education. I studied every method I could get my hands on. One thing was for sure, I was not going to educate my children the same way I had been educated. Don't get me wrong, I had liked school quite a bit, and I'd gone to an excellent, well-funded school. But as I got older I started feeling critical toward the accepted ways of teaching in those days and noticed ways that the school system had not worked for me. I wanted to find better ways.
I have collected a number of "must-read" books on education over the years that are still on my book shelf. Here is a list of my treasured favorites:

How Children Fail- John Holt (He wrote many great books, but I like this one best)
Teach Your Own- John Holt
Homeschooling for Excellence- David Colfax
Better Than School- Nancy Wallace
Children Who are Not Yet Peaceful- Donna Goertz
Free at Last, the Sudbury Valley School- Daniel Greenberg
Better Late than Early- Raymond Moore
Dumbing Us Down- John Tayor Gatto
The Teenage Liberation Handbook- Grace Llewellyn

Another favorite all-time book on parenting-in-general is A Joyful Mother of Children by Linda Eyre.