From the Publisher
“Not your typical education book (for starters, it's funny)...Cummings remains inquisitive, thoughtful, and a little unsure of herself in a refreshingly humble wayprecisely the qualities a parent should look for in a teacher."
"Light and witty...I can vouch for much of what this endearingly self-deprecating writer has to say."
—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal
"The Year of Learning Dangerously recounts Quinn Cummings's hilarious crusade to find the best educational path for her daughter. Reading her outrageously entertaining observations not only makes me want to homeschool my (nonexistent) children, but it also makes me want to be Quinn's best friend. A must-read."
—Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter Is the New Black and Jeneration X
“A hilarious, friendly companion to charm and entertain parents and educators, whether they homeschool or not. Honest and direct, Cummings is willing to tell all of her experiences: not just the happy sunshine moments, but the brutal realities of educating and raising children.” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine
"If you think homeschooling is crazy, this book might just change your mind. If, after you've read it, you think Quinn Cummings is crazy, you might be correct. Lucky for us, she's the kind of crazy that manages to be insightful and hilarious all at once."
—Alice Bradley, co-author of Let's Panic About Babies!
"In The Year of Learning Dangerously, Quinn Cummings dares to go where few parents have gone before. Her adventures in homeschooling are fascinating, loving and most of all hilarious. This book is a great gift to parents and the people that wonder what make them tick. I loved it."
—Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me at Woof
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.)
Cummings (Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life) and her partner, Daniel, were frustrated when their daughter Alice had difficulties in public school. After much thought and debate, they decided to homeschool her. Most of the burden fell on Cummings, whose insecurities often had her second-guessing their decision. Cummings discovered various homeschooling methods—online charter schools, Radical Unschooling, the Fundamentalists, Gothardites. She enrolled Alice in an online course, only to abandon it six weeks later, and went to conferences to check out other homeschooling groups. In the end, they stuck with Cummings's original curriculum, and Alice flourished both personally and academically in the process. VERDICT Professional educators may dismiss this as fluff. But along with her wit, Cummings offers concrete proposals for the future of education. Her book should have wide appeal and is likely to give readers a more positive view of homeschooling.—Terry A. Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS
A mother's candid and humorous account of the exploits of homeschooling her child. When her daughter, Alice, continually balked at learning long division at public school, math-phobic Cummings (Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life, 2009) decided she didn't want Alice to grow up fearing numbers. The author realized she needed to try a different approach to education, and homeschooling became the solution. Almost instantly, Cummings was confronted with doubts about her ability to successfully teach Alice, especially math, and the fear that Alice would not develop socially without daily interaction with other children. To combat her insecurities, Cummings delved into some homeschooling variations, including unschooling (letting the child's interests dictate the curriculum), a belief system where "the first priority of homeschooling is not giving our children the skills required to succeed in society but protecting our children from the corrupting influence of that society," and following the teachings of Dr. Bill Gothard, an extremely Bible-based format of learning. Not content just to research these variations online, the author went undercover, complete with proper attire and wig, to homeschooling conventions to witness and experience these styles of learning firsthand. She provides practical advice on how not to homeschool as well as entertaining commentary on the multiple styles available. Ultimately, Cummings and Alice survived their year together, with both child and parent learning from the other. With the future of all education in flux, the author foresees children adopting multiple methods of learning to remain successful in the years ahead. An amusing and informative memoir about an alternative approach to education.