02nd Aug 2007

Unschooling Parent as Librarian (a metaphor)

My daughter has the most wonderful relationship with the reference
librarian at our local branch. The librarian is just tickled to have
this little elf march up to her and say things like, “I really like X
books because of Y. Do you know of something similar?” or, one I
overheard the other day, “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t really care for Z .
. . I prefer fiction with more . . . character development.”

The librarian looked over her shoulder at me, and I shrugged back at
her–the kid knows what she likes. So the librarian (I love this
woman), went back to it . . . trying to find something that the kid
would like.

We got a copy of the _Gateways to the Great Books_ the other day. She
decided to read Hemingway’s “The Killers” to me the other day. I’d
never considered Hemingway for the Jr. High set . . . but it makes
sense that she’d take to it. The thing about Hemingway that annoys so
many people (the short sentences that take a while to get there) is
what makes him very readable, especially aloud.

I think it’s Holt (it’s Gatto) who has a developed metaphor about libraries and
unschooling . . . the librarian (unschooling parent) doesn’t tell you
what to read, what order to read in, doesn’t quiz you after you’ve
read . . . the librarian helps you find things that are of interest to
you, helps you lay your hands on things you want, gives
recommendations of things you might want in the future. The librarian
doesn’t tell you the book is too easy or too hard for you, doesn’t
make you read the whole book of gardening when all you’re interested
in is the chapter on composting, and doesn’t ask you to read aloud to
determine your level of comprehension. The librarian helps you find
other people if you want to start a book group, other works by an
author you like, and information on where to go once you’ve outreached
the capabilities of the library or the librarian.

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