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15th Anniversary Edition of *The Art of Education* Available July 4th

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15th Anniversary Edition of The Art of Education

Available July 4th

The Art of Education

After letting it collect dust on the bookshelf, about a year ago I had cause to re-read a good portion of The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self. This was my first book. In it, I did my best to say everything I wanted to say because, admittedly, I was a bit worried that its honesty would preclude me from ever being accepted by another publisher in the future.

About a year ago, I was both shocked and saddened. I was saddened that, after more than a decade, all of the problems outlined still exist. Worse, these problems have grown to epic proportions. I was shocked to realize that The Art of Education’s message was still quite relevant. Indeed, even more relevant for what I realized would be another new generation of parents dealing with government schools or looking for a way to forego dealing with them.

The original version of The Art of Education went out of print when Holt Associates first stopped printing all of the books it had recently acquired and then, not too long after, ceased publication of John Holt’s Growing Without Schooling magazine, as well. I made the decision to bring back The Art of Education in e-book form, to keep as affordable and accessible for parents as it can be, so that as many children as possible may experience life without schooling and receive an education of value and meaning.

It seems fitting to have The 15th Anniversary Edition of The Art of Education enjoy its debut on Independence Day, and so that is when it will be available for purchase. We hope current homeschoolers will read it to see how far the education revolution has come in 15 years, and to see how much is left to be done. With your understanding of homeschooling’s benefits, we hope you’ll consider purchasing copies for your friends with children, as The Art of Education was one of the first books to outline in detail “the why to homeschool.” The 15th Anniversary Edition makes the message that much more powerful for concerned parents.

I’m so very grateful to the many people who re-read The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self to provide the endorsements shared below. My deepest thanks to all of you! Please feel free to copy these to share with friends, as their words – which come from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Jamaica, may move them to read and learn more.

I’m really excited to think that this work of love is resurrected in order to help more children and their families. We’re grateful for your support in making this happen, and hope you’ll let us know what you might be doing to “spread the word” – we’ll share your news with others! Oh, and if you’ll let me do a bit of Grandma-bragging, that beautiful Cover Girl is my eldest granddaughter on one of our unforgettable field trips.


The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self

When The Art of Education was written, I said it was decades ahead of its time. Read it now and discover that today’s education crisis has proven me right.

~ Mark Hegener, Home Education Magazine publisher

Linda Dobson is the global Pied Piper of homeschooling. Her more than half a dozen books on the topic have provided inspiration, information and encouragement to parents who have taken or are thinking of taking this new step forward in education. No longer a radical idea but one becoming an increasingly popular choice of concerned parents, Linda Dobson has, through her books and life work, forced discussion and thinking on what has become an innovative method and viable option of educating children and young adults.

The 21st Century evolution of education through the development of digital information technology has placed a plethora of teaching tools and options in the hands of parents who have grown dis-satisfied with the standards of education and social behaviour emerging from traditional school systems. Ms. Dobson boldly encourages parents to realize that delivering knowledge and information to young minds is not a secret art that can only be practiced in crowded schoolrooms supervised by one teacher, but can be an act of love between parent and child that can easily accomplish even better scholastic and developmental results in the familiar setting of the family home.

Linda Dobson argues that homeschooling restores the role of family in the rearing of socially and intellectually whole children, and fights against the incarceration of students and an education system that tries to achieve the impossible task of producing batches of students with identical knowledge and test results, rather than discovering and enhancing the natural interests and talents of each individual.

With eight books on homeschooling and grateful homeschoolers around the globe, the acknowledged expert again shares her gems of knowledge and wisdom in this reissue of a classic on the topic.

~ Barbara Blake Hannah, Kingston, Jamaica, author Home: The First School: A Homeschooling Guide to Early Childhood Education

Linda Dobson’s wake-up call for America’s parents is more relevant today than ever before. Her inspiring book is not only about the Art of Education, it addresses the Art of Living, challenging us all to reconsider our priorities and determine what is needed for children and adults to lead meaningful and happy lives. Every page shines with a genuine concern for the well-being of our nation’s families.

~ Laura Brodie, author Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter’s Uncommon Year

Having become familiar with home education (homeschooling) only since the advent of the Internet and all the new and obvious opportunities for learning that the “digital revolution” in general has gifted to us, I would be the first to admit that the decision to remove my son from school was far easier to make in 2002 than it would have been when Linda Dobson’s The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self was first published in 1995 (coincidentally the year my son was born).

So I have to say from the outset that I’m already an admirer of the author as a “pioneer” of the homeschooling movement.

In The Art of Education, Linda has a fascinating story to share from a position of great knowledge, understanding, and personal experience and, incidentally, I’m glad she chose not to rewrite this book to try to accommodate the “digital revolution” because it doesn’t need that to get its message across: all the essential truths are just as true.

As an Australian, I found the detailed history of America’s public school system particularly absorbing and – dare I say it? – highly educational. The author’s comparison of the practices of schooling with what we know about how children naturally educate themselves and her skillful prising apart of the two are illuminating. How many parents have I encountered who think “school” and “education” are two words for the same thing? They’re not and never have been, and Linda Dobson explains, quite brilliantly, why that’s so.

It’s her contention that the institution we call “school” has always by its very nature subverted the true meaning of education and is continuing to sell children and parents alike a false bill of goods. I believe her.

But her book is not a critique in itself of a method of educating children that Win Wenger, acknowledged modern day genius and author of the best selling book, The Einstein Factor, says “has squandered the gifts and potentialities of generations of human beings.” It’s a call to awaken to the inadequacies of that system (and to its increasing irrelevance in a time when all human knowledge can be readily accessed by any self-motivated individual); to break out of the Stockholm Syndrome, as some people have called it; to explore the wisdom of the art of education based on our individual families’ values and priorities.

To reclaim our family, our community and our self. To restore the primacy of the parent in the raising of our children through family-centred learning.

Why we should do so is all here; how we can do so is all here.

In recommending this book to you, I can do no better than to echo Linda Dobson herself: “The art of education as it may be expressed through homeschooling has never been more important or more necessary than it is today. Reading this book could improve your family’s lifestyle forever, and providing your child a real education instead of schooling could enrich his life forever, too.”

~ Bob Collier, Publisher of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter,

We hadn’t yet discovered homeschooling, or family-centered education as Linda Dobson aptly names it, when her book The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self was released in 1995. I know if I’d read even one chapter of this convincing book back then that we would have come to the homeschooling choice much more quickly.

The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self is no light-weight work. Linda’s feisty cultural observations are backed by scholarly references. Her useful suggestions are based on experience. And her insightful educational stance is derived from common sense, just like homeschooling itself.

Everything about this work is just as relevant as the day Linda wrote it. In fact, time proves the prophetic nature of her words. For homeschoolers and those wondering if homeschooling might be an option, this book is a classic.

~ Laura Grace Weldon, author Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, Home Education Magazine columnist

Astonishing! That was my thought as I re-read this book after many years. Linda’s perception of the difference between public education and true education, family and community centered, are more relevant and needed today than fifteen years ago when this book was first published. This book should be mandatory reading for all parents before they ever consider sending a child for any kind of public education. Reading and putting into practice what you will think about and learn from this book will enrich you and your family beyond imagination. Reading this book should be your first step to independent thinking about learning and living.

~ Jean Reed, author The Home School Source Book, 3rd edition and The Lifetime Learning Companion from Brook Farm Books:

These are times of economic, environmental, and socio-political turmoil in the world. We need a big idea – a few of them, actually – to solve some big problems. Family-centered education is one of those big ideas. Since The Art of Education was first published fifteen years ago, an increasing number of people – thinkers, writers, even a few educators – have begun to realize what some parents have known all along: that the sausage-stuffing, coercive mode of education is wrong, that it’s harmful to kids, doesn’t result in truly educated adults, and has contributed to the current mess our planet is in. In the same way that economic, environmental and socio-political problems can be solved from the bottom up (and, in fact, must be because those at the top can’t and won’t), home educating families are taking the lead in practicing the art of education: nurturing self-reliance, personalization, creative thinking, flexibility, open-mindedness, the ability to question, and conviviality, along with academics. In this eloquent, important, and timeless book, Linda Dobson demonstrates the awesome strength of this particular big idea, which we need to implement even more urgently than fifteen years ago. What are we waiting for?

~ Wendy Priesnitz, founder of the Canadian homeschooling movement, editor of Life Learning Magazine, author of School Free: The Homeschooling Handbook and Challenging Assumptions in Education: From Institutionalized Education to a Learning Society

The Art of Education is a cage-rattler. Dobson shepherds the shaky-kneed, school-doubting parent through the dehumanizing catacombs of institutionalized schooling and into a hopeful future. Early chapters shine a light on entrenched layers of corporate and institutional social control that effectively dis-empower individuals, families, and communities. From these disheartening words, Dobson steps her readers toward the self-empowerment that comes with the homeschooling lifestyle. Readers emerge from the abyss with fresh eyes, confidence, and a can-do attitude. This is a ground-breaking and wise book.

~ Ann Westendorf Fisher, author Fundamentals of Homeschooling,;

Dobson’s book is as timely now as when it was first published. Her suggestions for rethinking your philosophy of education will inspire you to provide learning opportunities for your children (or grandchildren) to replace or augment a deteriorating schooling system continually burdened with federal mandates and government required paperwork.

~ Marsha Ransom, author The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Homeschooling (published 2001 by MacMillan) is being revised for publication by the editors of Home Education Magazine

You might think a book written 15 years ago would be outdated and wrinkled but it’s not. Dobson’s anniversary edition remains fresh and smooth as a baby’s butt! She assures a whole new generation of parents that they already possess the paint – all they need to do is dunk their fingers in the colorful pots and start practicing the art of education. Best of all, there’s no need to worry about staying inside the lines.

~ Debbie Harbeson, author of Okay Kids, Time for Bedlam and newspaper columnist

My life’s passion is summed up in Linda Dobson’s opening to her anniversary edition of The Art of Education: “I’m forever a homeschool advocate, because I know life and learning beyond the confines of school make for happier, healthier, saner adults with a strong sense of purpose and the ability to thrive and attain success to the best of their abilities, and I want to see as many families and children benefit from the practice as possible.”

It is said that we’re lucky if, during our education, we have access to one or two teachers who have a special ability to “switch on” learning in his or her students: Dobson is such a teacher, and continues to be one of my treasured home education mentors. For learning doesn’t stop once we become adults and we need mentors of this caliber throughout our lives.

Why is Linda Dobson special? What does she have that other teachers lack? Trust. Dobson trusts that a learner can and will learn. And her respect and concern for children is genuine and heart-felt. Those characteristics, together with her ability to see and act beyond her own immediate interests and needs to that of a nation, give me hope.

And we need hope: while business reaps the benefits of information and communication technology, public education views it with suspicion or worse, misuses and abuses it to spy on children or reduce learning to meaningless and competitive league tables. Good intentioned but ill-informed educational reform adds confusion and cost. Public education in the USA is no longer sustainable. Dobson’s plea, for families to make sure their children “get an education instead of schooling,” is an agenda that will be increasingly heard as schools continue to fail.

A proponent of self-education, Dobson is convincing. Her message,“We, the people, must teach ourselves,” states the obvious, but it is a reality that society has been lulled into letting go while governments imposed a massive and failed experiment – that of compulsory public education – upon us.

The Art of Education begins with a consideration of the “real business” of schooling: the “subsumption of the individual… the [modification of] natural, individual expression into a socially acceptable sameness.” When home educated parents are asked, “Aren’t you worried about socialisation?” it is this that people are talking about, not the acquisition of social skills. It amazes me how often this is the first and most loudly voiced protest against the concept of home education – academic education, civic responsibility and personal fulfillment are sadly of lesser concern.

Few of us start home educating by defining “education” or critically analysing the concept or purpose of schooling. Many families are refugees from the school system, reluctantly starting on this path because school has failed their children. The Art of Education questions the assumptions we make about schooling, the way it is structured and its methods and purpose. People who feel damaged by their personal school experiences will rejoice and feel liberated by the messages in this book. Those who enjoyed school or who found it to be a refuge from a less-than-happy home-life may feel challenged by its strident anti-school language. But if we put aside our personal biases and read the text objectively there is much to offer any parent, for the subject is not purely “education.” There is much in this book to guide our parenting practice towards a more holistic, healthy, and happy relationship with our children well beyond their childhood.

“When education is art, the journey is the education.” By drawing on the metaphor of education as art instead of business, Dobson makes a compelling case which, through demonstrating the huge differences between schooling and education, asks us to change our perspective about notions of “success.”

An examination of the Self reveals those factors which create our lives: social conditioning, experiences, nurture, genetics, etc. Dobson places an emphasis on social factors, examining the imperatives these implant in our minds and which drive our desires – wealth, duty, compulsion, reliance and dependency on “experts” and overly excessive administration and bureaucratization – to show us “how society’s institutions cleverly encourage conformity and complacency.”

Dobson argues that education to prepare one for adult life needs to be more than “feeble attempts at intellectual stimulation and preparation for jobs.” How does home education offer more? Dobson answers by examining the gift of time, real connection with others, a focus on self-knowledge and self-understanding rather than selfishness, understanding the difference between “learning” and “training,” and the role of context and meaningful purpose, achievable within a home educating framework.

She offers a chilling summary of the damage to society inflicted by schooling: “Schools condition adults (parents) to raise capital instead of kids. Parents disconnect from kids. Schools take over even more parenting responsibilities. Parents disconnect further from kids. Schools call in social services to repair the trauma. Parents disconnect even further from kids. Schools do even more of what they already do. And then those children have children.” She blames schools obsessive attention on competitiveness and reward and punishment, and argues that we need to shift our focus to “family-centred, parent (adult)-powered lifestyle patterning.” We can do this by noticing, examining, and changing our priorities – what matters and what does not matter – and by taking conscious control of the actions which direct our lives. The Art of Education not only provides a tool for doing this, but takes you further by helping you develop, step-by-step, your own personal educational philosophy for your family. From there Dobson expands the horizons of homeschooling, dispelling some of the most persistent and inaccurate myths. Far from the concept of children learning in isolation at home with mom as teacher, home education is centred in community learning with interaction with people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Although aimed primarily at an American audience, this book has much to offer families around the world worried about the fate of their children or when considering their educational choices.

Dobson peppers this text with insights and advice aimed at making the transition from schooling to unschooling easier for parents, not with the authoritative teaching voice we are familiar with but as a friend, a mother, someone deeply concerned with our well-being. Her helpful attitude and personal, “I’m on your side” tone is both encouraging and reassuring. The practical tips, advice and insights give the reader appropriate, achievable and immediate actions to take. Common sense starting points reveal just how easy and simple homeschooling can be.

The Art of Education is a powerful and passionate plea for parents to take stock of what’s happening in their homes and communities. It’s also a blueprint for taking control, reclaiming the lost territory of family and community responsibility.

~ Beverley Paine,

What could be better than something new from Linda Dobson? Why, something old from Linda Dobson! The Art of Education/ has stood the test of time as one of the best homeschooling books of the best two decades. Freewheeling and easy to read, it packs a real wallop as it dissects what has gone awry in what pass for “education” these days, while providing both the encouragement and the practical wisdom to make your homeschooling life sing. Great books only get better.

~ David Albert, homeschooling author, speaker and father

Many things have changed since this book was first published, but the way children learn has not changed. The homeschooling movement is more international now, and there is new research on television. Homeschooling is still reviled and misunderstood, but Linda Dobson’s calm, clear voice continues to sound above the fearful noise.

~ Sandra Dodd, author Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling

The Art of Education is a complete family manual – inspiring and motivating – answers every question that could possibly come up about family centered education!

~ Mariaemma Willis, co-author of Discover Your Child’s Learning Style,

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