Book Review: Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education
By: Susan Wise Bauer
There is no worse feeling as a parent than helplessness and frustration, with a pit in your stomach and a tightness in your throat, struggling to help your child while working within the confines of a system. A system that is built to serve a community, not an individual. Some kids thrive in the typical school model. But what if your child is one of those who doesn’t? How can you help him?
In Rethinking School, Susan Wise Bauer, answers that question.
Here’s the thing about children—“Children are infinitely varied. . . maturing on a huge spectrum of readiness, from those who were born old souls to the recklessly heedless young adult; some finding a clear path very early, others still struggling to find purpose into their twenties.”
We have a system that tells us all seven-year-olds should be reading the same material, and all 7th graders should be doing Algebra, but we know that kids are different, with different levels of development. What if your child isn’t ready for Algebra until 9th-grade? What if your 5th grader is doing 8th-grade math but is only reading at the 4th-grade level? How do you work around that? Usually, we try to force the child to fit into the school’s mold.
But what if we could bend the system instead of trying to change the child?
Part 1 of Rethinking School is a brief explanation of how the American education system can to be.
Part 2 helps you identify the area(s) where your child and the school are not connecting.
Part 3 gives you specific ideas for working with teachers and administrators to help your child while not becoming “that” parent.
Part 4 leads you through a series of “thought experiments” so you can see what “education could look like.”
Part 5 provides you with ways to implement the education you discovered in your thought experiments.
Included throughout the book are real stories from parents, just like you and me, sharing their struggles within the education system and how they overcame them.
I think the best part of the book was Chapter 13. Chapter 13 is called “The End Result” and it encourages you to ask yourself, “Who do you want your child to become?” The job market is rapidly changing; the way our children work will likely be very different from the way we work. Instead of focusing on specific job qualifications, think about qualities that will benefit your child. What characteristics will make your child an adult that you, and others, want to be around?
We are now homeschoolers but there was a time when our children attended public school. We tried to work within the system. But with 30 students in each elementary class and being required to teach to the test, the teachers were overworked, overwhelmed and any plan we implemented didn’t last. For us, the solution was to begin homeschooling. My husband and I are very comfortable doing our own thing, making our own path, but if a book like Rethinking School had been around, maybe we would’ve made a different decision. Rethinking School would’ve given us other tools and ideas and support as we tried to “flex the system” rather than our children.
If your child is struggling, go order your copy of Rethinking School today. If you’ve been in a similar situation, tell us your story in the comments. How did you help your child?
Purchase your copy now at Amazon.