(Roost Books, 2014)
reviewed by Glenn
As a father of three girls I’ve thought a bit about our mass education system and it’s impact upon my children. In the “idealistic” phase of parenting, home schooling was the preferred path, although this was never realized for a number of reasons. Economics was probably probably the main challenge but there were certainly other factors.
In his new book “Home Grown” Ben Hewitt and his wife take it to the next level. They opt to raise their two sons on a farm in the back woods of Northern Vermont without formal education. A hands on approach to learning is emphasized over academic achivement. The boys grow skilled in living off the land become well connected to nature. Their curriculum is the day to day requirements of maintaining a small acreage. Reading and writing are a part of their developement but not in a regimented way.
I admire the courage it must have taken to do this; how many who would want to could make it work? Children today, I believe, have lost much connection with the natural world. They are locked up for most of the day at school and are in front of the tv or other device for most of the night (like the rest of us). So the “push back” of the unschooling movment is probably overdue. I applaud those teachers who take their classes on walks around town and coordinate field trips. But is pushing relentless academics on developing children ultimately healthy? Perhaps a seachange is long overdue.
Ben Hewitt is the author of “Saved, the town that food saved” and “Making supper safe”. He and his family life is a self-built, solar powered house in Cabot, Vermont and operate a forty-acre livestock, vegetable, and berry farm.