As the weather cools, I find myself picking up my knitting again. I am still working on the cowl I began towards the end of winter last year. I don’t think it’ll take very long to finish, and then I’ll have a lovely accompaniment just about the time the weather gets frigid!
There was an interesting thread running through the books I’ve been reading this week. I finished This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone first, then Ender’s Game, and I’ve barely begun to get through Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World.
This Life is In Your Hands is the memoir of a girl who was born into a homesteading/back to the land family in Maine. Her parents’ marriage shatters after the drowning death of her younger sister. Through out it all she takes a very nuanced look at where idealism and reality collide, and what it does to a family and a community. What struck me while reading her story was that it wasn’t so much the idea of homesteading that was the issue, it was unflinching idealism that refused to accept the world as it was- and it called to mind the homeschooling community to me. I’ve watched families self-destruct in very similar fashion over homeschooling ideals. It is troubling and the whole book gave me much to think about. It is beautifully written, lovely book, for all the hard things that must be faced throughout. She is a gentle companion in those tough questions.
Enders Game was a huge departure for me. It’s not that I’m against science fiction, exactly, but most of it is so badly written that I never get past the first few chapters. I have been spoiled by Peter David and David Mack in that regard. I caught the movie a few weeks back while either Josiah or Ellianna was in the hospital (I’m not sure which). The hospital has a few movies on loop, so I caught the movie middle first, beginning second, and end last, over a period of about two days. The movie was really well done and intriguing, and I told myself I had to go read the book and find out the rest of the story. It is very very good. Very well done. I hate to say that it is good because it is truly and utterly dystopian, which is super-unbelievably depressing and ain’t no body got time for that. (I kid.) Enders takes idealism to a level few of us would ever fathom on our own, and the wreckage it causes is utterly profound. Reading it so immediately after This Life, the connections came quickly- what happens if we so obsess over being right that we lose our moral center? What then? I did not like the places Orson Scott Wells took me, but I needed to go there all the same.
What that means, however, is that I’m approaching Home Grown from the completely opposite direction than I normally would. I don’t need to be sold on the idea of homeschooling. I know it works, I know what amazing things can happen when we let children fly free. What I desire to see is a more nuanced conversation about what a homeschooling life can and should be, that openly faces the challenges and pitfalls that homeschooling parents might run into. As I’ve not read very far, I can’t say anything one way or the other, but I’ve heard so many rave reviews about this one that I am truly curious to hear what he has to say. I really don’t want more idealism. I want realism.
Sharing with Ginny.