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Challenging Assumptions in Education
From Institutionalized Education to a Learning Society
by Wendy Priesnitz

Challenging Assumptions in EducationA fresh and exciting personal approach to the inevitable and urgently needed revolution in education, which demolishes the one-size-fits-all, industrialized model of processing and warehousing students and creates a community-based, individualized learning society accommodating learners of all ages, interests, abilities and styles. This book discusses why progressively-minded parents might not want to send their children to school...and describes the democratic, life-affirming, academically and socially beneficial alternative.

"Our outdated assumptions about how children learn are crippling both our young people and our collective well-being. Only by challenging these assumptions will we be able to replace a system that is not relevant to the lives of today's young people. We must give up on the hierarchical, coercive, industrial model of education whether it looks like a public school, a charter school, a private school or a home school because it impedes learning and enslaves children. Then we need to create opportunities and infrastructures that respect children, help them learn, and equip them to meet the immense economic, social and environmental challenges of this century."    Wendy Priesnitz

About the Author:
Wendy Priesnitz is a homeschooling/unschooling pioneer. She and her husband helped their two daughters learn at home when it was almost unheard of, beginning in the 1970s. In 1979, she founded one of the earliest homeschooling support organizations in North America and continues to share her experience and long-term, progressive perspective with families around the world. She has authored thirteen other books, including School Free, a bestselling homeschooling start-up guide, and has edited Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier, both published by The Alternate Press and available on this website. She is an award winning journalist and edits four magazines, including Life Learning and Natural Life Magazines. Author Bio

"Challenging Assumptions gives us the ethics and philosophical reasons to underpin successful homeschooling life. Wendy insists that the solution to many of the problems facing humanity can be found by challenging the assumptions about how we treat children. This isn't a comfortable process, but it's essential...Although Wendy writes with passion she is never aggressive and thus the book doesn't slip into the 'us and them' paradigm. This book urges us to change the way we think, and thus change the world. True to her grassroots origin, Wendy believes that 'change on the scale that is required happens one person at a time.' If you have ever doubted your ability to rear intelligent successful young people at home and in the community, this book is for you." - Beverley Paine, Stepping Stones, Australia, 2004

"I strongly urge every parent (even if they are not home educating...yet) to read this book. Read this book!  If you are a parent, you simply must. What I especially appreciated is that Ms. Priesnitz does not simply yammer on about what all the problems are (which many authors seem to do and I've even been guilty of myself in certain social  but she offers solid suggestions for real solutions, even beyond home education.  Because while math and spelling are indeed vital to intellectual growth,  it truly is about more than academics.  It's about the way we process children.  Read this book!" - Laurette Lynn, The Unplugged Mom, 2010

"This little gem answers all of the questions I have been asked over the years…including questions I have asked myself during those panicky moments of doubt....Pointing out the problems that exist within our current model of education is one thing. Offering solutions – concrete, tangible approaches to fixing the educational system – is another and Priesnitz offers a multitude of ways we can do this. Most of these ideas require a fundamental shift in how we view the learning process. Through her gentle approach, though, each seems doable and – more importantly – vital if we wish to revitalize our children’s innate passions and desires to learn....There are so many important thoughts and ideas presented here – highlighting one or two is a true disservice to the reader." - Beth Balmanno, Parenting at the Helm, 2011

"This tough-minded book burns sharp holes in dark places! Priesnitz argues that every school procedure that mutilates children is based upon some invisible assumption about children and human nature, which all arise from rational applications of false premises. This is an eye-opening guide to the most damaging of these hidden operating principles, which lurk in the nicest of people...perhaps even in yourself! I heartily recommend this book." -
John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down and The Underground History of American Education, 2001

“Thank you so much for your brilliant book. You have spoken so clearly and directly to the heart of the matter of children learning in and from the world. You have managed to relate the whole of the matter in a real and understandable way… In answer to your challenge to find ways to put your words into action: It might just have to happen one person, one family, one small community at a time. I never miss an opportunity, nor do my children, to invite people to challenge the assumptions in education. I ride a roller coaster. Some days I am clear that the path we are on is well chosen. Other days I despair. It seems an insurmountable task to overcome the effects of a world educated by the system, but I will carry your book on that path.” - Annie B, a reader

The Assumptions

  • Education is Something That is Done to You
  • Knowledge Belongs to a Cult of Experts
  • Others Know Best What Children Should Learn
  • Schools Provide Effective Training
  • Schools Have a Noble Purpose

An excerpt from Challenging Assumptions in Education.

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Natural Life Books specializes in adult non-fiction about ways that families and individuals can live and learn on Planet Earth in a healthy, socially responsible, environmentally sound, self-reliant manner. We are the retail division of The Alternate Press, an imprint of Life Media, an independent, family-owned book and magazine publishing house established in 1976. We are proud to publish books and other information products about homeschooling and life learning (also known as unschooling).

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