HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence
Author: Joanne Calderwood
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing, 2013
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: For parents
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Calderwood, Joanne. The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence (published in 2013 by Morgan James Publishing, 5 Penn Plaza, 23rd Floor, New York City, NY 10001). Have you heard the old proverb which says that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime? That same principle applies to education in general. Either we can spoon-feed kids facts which will last until they regurgitate them on a test or we can teach them how to learn on their own. In The Self-Propelled Advantage, homeschool mother Joanne Calderwood, a popular magazine columnist and speaker at home-education conferences across the country, provides a strategy for doing the latter. Didn’t poet William Butler Yeats say that education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire? This is an idea that many homeschooling parents have learned and seek to implement in their home education.
Calderwood’s “three-pronged secret that will propel your student down the road of self-discovery” involves first self-mastery, then a mastery mindset, and finally self-teaching. She discusses how to implement these practices with both younger and older children, even through high school and beyond. While Calderwood is a passionate practitioner and promoter of homeschooling, making a good case for its superiority, she also makes suggestions as to how parents of children in traditional public and private schools can utilize her program as well. And for homeschoolers, she identifies curricula that she has used or believes will work well with her self-teaching method. Finally, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Not only does the book cite examples from her own children, one an SAT perfect scorer, one near-perfect scorer, and four who have gone to college on full academic scholarships, throughout, but it also contains a chapter, “Calderwood Kids Speak,” which gives their own first-hand testimony to the effectiveness of the system.
Christian parents have certain goals for the education of their children. With regard to the importance of self-mastery, Calderwood writes, “My husband and I desire to train our children’s hearts first and foremost, and then the educational pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.” And the results? “We’ve raised our young children with a distinctive worldview that will enable them as adults to hold to those values and thrive amidst a culture which tends to make destructive choices.” There are many other good quotes that I jotted down and could give if I had room, but you can get the idea. In addition, valuable information on preparing for college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT can be found. The book seems to be a revised, updated, and expanded version of Calderwood’s earlier work The Self-Teaching Manual (I’m the Mom; I Don’t Have to Know Calculus!). All parents can benefit from this material, but those who are homeschooling, or even thinking about homeschooling, will find it especially helpful.