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"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
School. Daze 3
Magical History Tour 33
Unchartered Territory 49
Joy Story 57
Le Math 87
Veni, Vidi... 101
The Fourth R 107
Rhymes with Orange 113
Go, Team 131
Cabin Fever 137
The Perils of Sensual Reading 147
Oh, What a Night 179
Parent/Teacher Conference 213
Further Reading 227
Posted November 16, 2012
When my oldest two children were younger I went through a time when I wanted to homeschool. I loved the idea of it and of being able to keep them with me. Planning field trips and learning at their pace, being able to use their interests to make learning personal and meaningful, but my husband wasn't in favor of the idea and then we had two more children and now I think it would be really hard to be working with all four of them on my own for all their educational needs. One of the things that really struck me when I started this is how different it must be to just have one child.
Cummings does a great job of making her book entertaining while relating her year homeschooling her daughter and the research she did into the different groups who are homeschooling in America. The history of homeschooling and even how it is handled in different countries. I am not sure I would have wanted to disguise myself in order to attend conferences for fundamentalist groups of homeschoolers, but she made it fun and entertaining while still managing to teach something along the way. If all history books and lessons could be done in such an entertaining fashion I think students of all ages would learn more!
I found myself loving this book. I picked it up off the shelf at the library when the title jumped out at me. Sometimes I find the best books that way. I may or may not have seen a review of it in a magazine, but it just looked like a book I wanted to read. I found it interesting how she dealt with teaching subjects that she herself wasn't the best at (which had been one of my concerns when I was thinking about homeschooling myself six years ago). It will be interesting to see if she writes any more books on this subject.
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Posted January 24, 2014
In The Year of Learning Dangerously, Quinn Cummings chronicles her family's decision to take her daughter out of public school and homeschool for a year. It starts off great. Cummings addresses her reasons for choosing to homeschool, as well as some of the concerns parents (and other people) have. I especially appreciated her comebacks to the tired "what about socialization?" questions and comments.
There are plenty of witty moments, ones all of us who homeschool can relate to. But shortly after the opening few chapters, I started to have mixed feelings about the book.
What bothered me is this: While exploring some of the different homeschooling styles, she seemed to purposefully seek out minority fringe groups rather than looking into what typical homeschoolers do. For example, the entire unschooling chapter was about radical unschoolers… at a convention, no less. Why cover radical unschooling but not unschooling, which is far more common?
She also had a tendency to gloss or even skip over points in order to be clever and funny. Her overview of classical education was more of a caricature than reality. She couldn't finish reading The Well Trained Mind to see the big picture? Okay, fair enough; it is a massive text. But why not visit the Well-Trained Mind message forum instead? Or seek out local classical homeschoolers and ask what they do on a normal day?
It seemed as if she was looking for the most outrageous examples of homeschooling approaches. What was the overall point of doing so? Shock value? It certainly doesn't seem like she bothered trying for a fair representation of typical homeschoolers. (And the group I'm in is a very eclectic bunch - we have members who are unschoolers, religious, secular, Charlotte Mason, classical, Montessori, child-led, relaxed, and everything in between.)
The Year of Learning Dangerously did even out toward the end. The prom and graduation chapters were very sweet, and I hope that C ends up feeling the way those graduates did about their education. I'm glad Cummings mentioned that plenty of us homeschool not for extreme religious reasons or out of fear of the government or society. I liked her optimism in the final chapters, and I'm glad she found a style that works for her family.
I would have enjoyed this far more if, for the majority of the book, Cummings had spent less time poking fun at extremist fringe groups and more time observing typical examples of various homeschooling styles. I think she would have gotten a lot more out of the experience, and it would have made for a more timeless, useful book. The fact that this is a memoir, her experience, is probably what saved the read for me.
Posted July 14, 2013
Posted June 16, 2013
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