An Interview with Mary Griffith, Part 5

Adrienne: What can you tell me about Viral Learning? I love the title, and it sounds like it’s going to be an interesting book.

Mary: After I’d finished the 2nd edition of The Homeschooling Handbook, my then-editor asked me what homeschooling book I wanted to do next, and at the time, I simply had nothing else to say about homeschooling. She asked me if we should do a revised edition of The Unschooling Handbook, but we couldn’t figure out enough that needed changing – their standard for a new edition was about 40% new material. (Aside from updating the resources, I don’t think there’s that much I’d change now, either – that book was pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be.)

So she asked what other homeschooling books I wanted to write. I didn’t have any other homeschooling books I wanted to write, and I couldn’t face the idea of rehashing and repackaging what I’d already done into other titles just to have something new. So I didn’t do a series of Unschooling Your First-, Second-, . . . , Twelfth-Grader.

But with Christie heading off to college this fall, it occurred to me that 2007 will be the ten-year anniversary of the publication of The Homeschooling Handbook, and I got to thinking that maybe I did have one more homeschooling book in me. There’s a bit in one of my talks (Hidden Hazards of Homeschooling) about how homeschooling is contagious and the individuals most vulnerable to the contagion are the parents of homeschooled children. When we as adults spend so much time trying to foster our kids’ curiosity, encouraging them to follow their interests wherever they lead, some of that is bound to rub off on us. So “Viral Learning” is an extension of that idea: how do long years of homeschooling affect us, the parents – and by extension, society at large? And what will the long-range effects be with our kids? I see parallels in other fields such as political blogging, where citizen activism in some areas is bypassing both the political establishment and the mainstream press. A few years ago, such effects were pretty isolated, but with the Internet explosion over the past few years, the effects can become almost viral – what happens when larger and larger chunks of our society become more independent and self-directed and involved with ideas and activities they find important?

I think it’s going to be a fun book to write.

Adrienne: It sounds like it’s going to be a fun book to read! Thank you so much for answering my questions and sharing your thoughts.

[Editor’s Note: Remember that you can keep hearing Mary’s thoughts over at her Viral Learning blog.]

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