Friday, August 17, 2012

"Dismantling the Inner School," by David Albert

Although we may homeschool our children, most of us still went through the traditional school system. We grew up believing that being cooped up in a classroom for the better part of the day with 30 kids our age and one adult, all learning the same thing at the same time, and being told when we could and couldn't use the bathroom or go out a play or read or talk or sit and ponder or ask questions was normal and desirable. Our parents had done it before us, and probably our grandparents before them.

We may believe that by choosing to homeschool that we have broken away from the system. Yet, so many of us still find ourselves trying to replicate school at home, or comparing our children's progress to their agemates', or wondering if we're doing enough based on what we think is going on behind the closed doors of our local school.

David Albert addresses these issues head on in his latest book, Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance (Hunt Press 2012). In a series of essays, David argues that we parents need to remove the bricks that "block us from true, natural learning," and understand that children start learning from the moment they start living. Learning is a natural response to life, but school is designed to undermine and subvert this innate desire, preventing children from experiencing with all their senses, which is originally how we learn.

For those who are unfamiliar with David Albert, he is a homeschooling father, speaker, writer, and advocate. He readily questions much of what is commonly accepted about school, learning, and even intelligence. He is an engaging speaker and writer, who encourages dialogue, whether verbal or virtual.

In Dismantling the Inner School, David takes to task much of the research and many of the claims surrounding school. He doesn't merely question the findings, but looks at them from a completely different angle. For example, David cites the well-reported research about how ADHD symptoms in children virtually disappear with regular exposure to the outdoors. Much of the reaction to this research centered on introducing nature programs in schools, creating green spaces in cities, and the like. David looks at all this and instead infers that perhaps kids being shut inside all day at school is causing ADHD, and therefore, school is the problem, not the kids.

But, the book doesn't just attack systemized schooling, it provides ideas, suggestions, and examples for approaching learning in our everyday world. Whether discussing ways to include children in adult activities within families and communities (an "apprenticeship of thinking") or giving specific information about books and websites to enhance the learning experience, Dismantling the Inner School inspires readers to explore the "curriculum of abundance" that exists in our lives. Readers are advised to keep a paper and pen handy to jot down all the tips for future reference.

Dismantling the Inner School is good for new and experienced homeschoolers, alike. In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea for a school teacher or adminstrator to take a gander. Imagine the real educational reforms that could happen if those in charge of the system decided that learning came before classroom management.

Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance is available through David Albert's website, Supporting members of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum receive a $2.00 discount on this and all of David Albert's books ordered through his website.


  1. Sarah, thanks for the review. I appreciate it.

    A quick note: I think that what often passes for ADHD is actually a form of undifferentiated PTSD, caused by the unrelenting stress of school and school environments. I do believe that something resembling ADHD does actually exist, but at a much, much, much lower rate than currently diagnosed. And until one removes children from the stressors, preferably long-term, one is unlikely to arrive at a proper diagnosis.

    The Davis Dyslexia folks have been exploring the links between dyslexia and what passes for ADHD, and note that much of the latter would likely disappear in an environment where stressors also linked to dyslexia were absent. In very few cases would they believe that, in such an environment, would children require other treatment for ADHD before the age of 8 at the earliest.

    Thanks again.


  2. Thank you for the clarification, David. I'm sorry that I misrepresented your opinion.

  3. In either case, school is the problem!