Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education

Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education

by Susan Wise Bauer


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“If you read only one book on educating children, this should be the book.… With a warm, informative voice, Bauer gives you the knowledge that will help you flex the educational model to meet the needs of your child.” —San Francisco Book Review

Our K–12 school system isn’t a good fit for all—or even most—students. It prioritizes a single way of understanding the world over all others, pushes children into a rigid set of grades with little regard for individual maturity, and slaps “disability” labels on differences in learning style. Caught in this system, far too many young learners end up discouraged.

This informed, compassionate, and practical guidebook will show you how to take control of your child’s K–12 experience and negotiate the school system in a way that nurtures your child’s mind, emotions, and spirit.

  • Understand why we have twelve grades, and why we match them to ages.
  • Evaluate your child’s maturity, and determine how to use that knowledge to your advantage.
  • Find out what subject areas we study in school, why they exist—and how to tinker with them.
  • Discover what learning disabilities and intellectual giftedness are, how they can overlap, how to recognize them, and how those labels can help (or hinder) you.
  • Work effectively with your child’s teachers, tutors, and coaches.
  • Learn to teach important subjects yourself.
  • Challenge accepted ideas about homework and standardized testing.
  • Help your child develop a vision for the future.
  • Reclaim your families’ priorities (including time for eating together, playing, imagining, traveling, and, yes, sleeping!).
  • Plan for college—or apprenticeships.
  • Consider out-of-the-box alternatives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393356847
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 630,775
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, educator, and historian. Her previous books include the Writing With Ease, Writing With Skill, and Story of the World series from Well-Trained Mind Press, as well as The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, Rethinking School, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, and the History of the World series, all from W. W. W. Norton. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, as well as an M.A. in seventeenth-century literature and a Master of Divinity in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature. For fifteen years, she taught literature and composition at the College of William and Mary.

Table of Contents

About This Book xiii

Part I The System

Chapter 1 The Way We Do School 3

Chapter 2 The Three Biggest Myths About School 13

Part II Mismatches

Chapter 3 You Can't Make the Earth Go Around the Sun Faster 21

Why Age = Grade (It's Prussia's Fault) 22

Three Questions for Evaluating Maturity 24

Action Plan 28

Chapter 4 Differences, Disabilities, and Disorders 33

The Three Labels 36

Action Plan 53

Chapter 5 The Perils of the Gifted and the Good 63

What Is Giftedness? 64

Four Challenges of Giftedness 66

Action Plan 70

Chapter 6 The Toxic Classroom 78

Uncovering the Problem 79

Action Plan 84

Part III Taking Control

Chapter 7 Basic Principles (Or, How Not to Be "That" Parent) 91

Laying the Foundation 92

The Way Forward 94

Chapter 2 Control the Tests 98

What the Tests Measure 99

The Right to Refuse 101

Types of Tests: What They Are and How to Use Them 104

The Way Forward 113

Chapter 9 Challenge the Homework Monster 117

When Homework Doesn't Work 117

The Way Forward 122

Chapter 10 Accelerate (But Don't Necessarily Skip) 127

Single-Subject Acceleration 128

The Way Forward 130

Chapter 11 Shift the Method 132

Sample Projects Designed for Multiple Intelligences 133

The Way Forward 136

Chapter 12 Teach, Yourself 139

The Way Forward 140

Part IV Rethinking the System

Chapter 13 The End Result 147

Thinking Backward 148

Thought Experiment 1 150

Chapter 14 The Child's Vision 151

The Challenge of Self-Awareness 152

Challenges for Your Child 153

Thought Experiment 2 160

Chapter 14 All the Other Things School Does 162

The Noneducational Tasks 164

Questioning the Agent 166

Thought Experiment 3 170

Chapter 16 Solving for X 171

Why Imagine? 171

Thought Experiment 4 177

Part V Opting Out

Chapter 17 Deciding to Homeschool 181

Homeschooling Styles 184

How to Investigate 186

Chapter 18 Getting Started in Five Steps 188

Chapter 19 Developing Independence 194

The Stages of Independent Work 195

Chapter 20 Out-of-the-Box Teaching Strategies 205

A Caveat 205

The Strategies 206

A Final Caution 211

Chapter 21 Radical Alternatives 213

Different Paths 215

Postscript: About College 223

Appendix A High School and the Transcript 229

Appendix B Skills vs. Content 235

Appendix c A Brief Essential Bibliography 241

Works Cited 249

Index 253

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