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What Really Matters

ISBN 978-0-920118-20-7

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What Really Matters
by David H. Albert & Joyce Reed
Introduction by Wendy Priesnitz
Foreword by John Taylor Gatto

Two veteran homeschool advocates discuss what learning is really all about.

A treasury of intelligent, penetrating, heartfelt, and often good-humored conversations about children and education. David Albert and Joyce Reed are deeply experienced homeschooling parents and a delightful pair of writers. In this collection of essays, they share their thoughts and experiences, playing off each others' experiences with and ruminations about society, schools, children and learning...and showing by example how children and young people thrive when trusted to learn from life.

"This is a book that will give confidence to any parent considering homeschooling their own children, and will be a welcome sitting-down-with-elders for those who are already deeply engaged in learning without schooling."
~ Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded By School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up To Old School Culture

"If I could recommend only one book for familiarizing oneself with the joys and unique possibilities within homeschooling, this would have to be the one."
~ Lillian Jones, creator of, mother of a happy and successful homeschool grad, and longtime volunteer for HSC, the HomeSchool Association of California

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“Experience is the best teacher. Problem is: it doesn’t teach until you’ve had it.” ~ David Albert

David AlbertDavid H. Albert is a homeschooling dad, husband, writer, and storyteller. He is the author of numerous books, including three about homeschooling and two about the uses of storytelling. His work has appeared in scores of magazines and journals worldwide, ranging from Life Learning Magazine, Natural Life Magazine, Home Education Magazine, and Home Educators’ Family Times to the Journal of the American Philosophical Society. He lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and partner Ellen, who works as a hospice nurse. Their older daughter Aliyah (twenty-two) is an honors graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is now working on a Ph.D. in Musicology/Italian Renaissance Studies at Princeton University. Their younger daughter Meera (nineteen) is currently at American University in Washington, DC, working toward a degree in international business and international service. He holds degrees from Williams College, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago, but says that the best education he ever received he got from his kids. He took up the violin in his forties and founded a community orchestra and took up opera singing at age fifty-two. When not learning with and from children, writing, making music, or raising funds for community development projects in South India and other good works, he serves as Senior Planning and Policy Analyst for the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. He is also an active member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and moderator of the Quaker Homeschooling Circle.

Joyce ReedJoyce Reed is the parent of five successful home-educated college grads. She also served for 14 years as Associate Dean of The College at Brown University. While married to a cultural anthropologist at the University of Washington, Joyce and her husband moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1969, where they taught and co-owned a health food store and restaurant. Eventually they moved to a beautiful but remote homestead where they lived for ten (marvelous!!) years in the 1970s – living totally off-grid – no electricity, indoor plumbing, telephone, or other necessities. The last four of her five children were born at home there and homeschooled, in the midst of a community of diverse, dynamic and well-educated parents who created and shared home-schooling experiences. Those children and parents are still close friends, though they are spread across the U.S., involved in every sector and facet of social, scientific, and economic life. Joyce comments that in terms of her children’s education, while she didn’t quite know what she was doing, she was confident about what she wasn’t doing, and they all turned out to be brilliant, interesting, creative, and fun to be with. In 1990, Joyce was offered a position as Associate Dean of the College at Brown University, where she had completed her BA and MA degrees, and had started her professional career as an educator with a Carnegie Foundation grant in women’s college administration. Retiring from Brown in 2003, Joyce could not give up working with and for young people. She founded College Goals, a college admissions consulting practice that offers counseling to both schooled and home or alternatively educated young people from families in USA or around the globe.

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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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