Archive for the ‘Quotes’ category

Creative Communications by Sandra Garant

January 14, 2007

“Most of us should be able to find enough reasonable motivation to write or use other communication skills every day. We all have responsibilities we need to remember, relationships we want to keep, problems we ought to resolve, interests we would like to explore, and celebrations in which we enjoy participating. These are meaningful and therefore motivating opportunities for writing, speaking, and drawing.”
-Sandra Garant in Creative Communications: Thirty Writing, Speaking, and Drawing Projects for Homeschoolers

This book is written with Catholic homeschoolers in mind, but it contains ideas that have applications far beyond its intended audience. I first read about Creative Communications in Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I had a little trouble getting a copy for the library’s collection, but I’m glad I went through the extra effort. Garant’s philosophy is that the best way to teach writing is through emphasizing writing’s practical everyday uses: making lists, sending letters, designing signs, and the like. She encourages creativity and shows how activities like storytelling and scrapbooking build writing skills. The book is divided into five sections: “Writing Games,” “Pre-writing Activities,” “Short Projects for Ready Writers,” “Advanced Projects for Real Writers,” and “Additional Information.” While Garant’s Catholic faith is evident in some of the activities and examples, her activities would be useful to any number of homeschoolers, classroom teachers, and parents who want to encourage writing – no matter what their faith. Even though some readers will be turned off by the Catholic perspective, many more will either welcome it or look past it. Garant’s straightforward and concise writing style makes the book user-friendly and unintimidating. As a librarian, I love Garant’s frequent suggestions for using public libraries. She suggests getting materials there more than once (even providing call number sections one might want to browse to find particular types of books), and she suggests a number of projects homeschoolers might do in conjunction with their local libraries, such as presenting programs and creating displays. Because the book is geared toward a niche market, it might be best-suited for larger collections, although a little extra promotion will surely have it circulating beyond Catholic homeschoolers.

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Better Late Than Early

November 30, 2006

“Once a child enrolls in school he usually becomes locked into institutional life for the remainder of his childhood years….”
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

It’s a little chilling when you think about it that way, eh?

“When You Are in a Subculture of a Subculture, You Often Get Painted as the Freak Family”

November 25, 2006

Here’s an article on unschooling from The New York Times.

It’s a weird piece to come out of the Times, more like filler than actual news. Personally, I’ve never met an unschooled child who didn’t strike me as bright, curious, and interesting, and I hate to see such a superficial article from a major news outlet that throws questions at the philosophy without exploring them in depth. This strikes me as just the sort of thing that makes people who feel negatively about ANY type of homeschooling feel justified in their negative view, which is a shame.

What I think librarians can take from this article is the feeling of misunderstanding evident in the mother talking about being thought of as “the freak family.” It goes a long way toward explaining why we run across homeschoolers who can be reluctant to talk to us, sensitive, and sometimes even defensive. It isn’t easy to have your way of life constantly – and often casually – called into question. Thankfully, as more and more people homeschool, this is getting to be less and less of a problem, but prejudices and misconceptions about homeschooling are still very much alive.

Reading John Holt

September 3, 2006

 “For it seems to me a fact that, in our struggle to make sense out of life, the things we most need to learn are the things we most want to learn. To put this another way, curiosity is hardly ever idle.”
-John Holt in How Children Learn

I’m doing a lot of reading for my chapter on unschooling right now and am currently buried in big piles of John Holt.

From his writings, Holt seems like he must have been one of those people who was wacky in the best of all possible ways. Reading words he wrote decades ago, I find myself completely engaged. His depictions of how children deal with boredom in school in How Children Fail are so true to my experience, and I know that I learn in many of the ways he describes in How Children Learn. It’s funny because, as a child, I loved going to school and was an extremely successful student, especially as I got older, but I often marvel at how much I wasn’t learning while earning straight A’s. And I also know that the things I loved most about school were things like my friends, drama club, chorus, and working in the bookstore. I was lucky enough to be in a school where I felt like I had a lot of freedom to pursue my interests and where my strengths were recognized and encouraged. I don’t think unschooling is the only answer to kids who are bored and not learning, but it’s a good answer. I wish more people were reading John Holt.

Most Libraries Are Only a Decade Behind

May 20, 2006

“The increasing number of home schoolers and the money they are willing to spend has created an opportunity for bookstores. Often, it seems, simply recognizing and courting the market can make a difference – the books are there. Customer databases and lists of helpful titles that are already in stock can add up to sales. And by listening to home schoolers and providing what they want, retailers can tap into their extensive network of newsletters, radio shows and word-of-mouth recommendations. These potential customers want something a catalogue can’t offer – the luxury of browsing, thumbing material to decide whether it is appropriate for their child’s age, interest and, yes, the values they want to instill.”
-Gayle White, “Home Schooling Appeals to All Faiths: and They’re Looking for Books and Bookstores” in Publishers Weekly (July 15, 1996)

This is why it’s so important to read Publishers Weekly and other publications related to libraries whose primary audience isn’t libraries. In 1996, this PW article talked about the rise of homeschooling, provided a list of titles of potential use to homeschoolers (and others!), and gave the above concise description of how to best serve them. Most libraries already have wonderful materials and services that homeschoolers could and would use, but many homeschoolers don’t know the full range of what’s available. Some homeschoolers even report not feeling welcome in public libraries. These are easy, easy problems to solve. It’s called education and niche marketing, and it works.