Friday, September 19, 2008

Nancy Wallace, RIP

I am saddened to find out, from Patrick Farenga on, of the passing of Nancy Wallace, a pioneering homeschooling parent and author going back to the very early days of the modern homeschooling movement.

It seems just yesterday that I discovered in the NYPL stacks (largely due to its provocative title and its introduction by John Holt) Wallace's wonderful 1983 book Better Than School: One Family's Declaration of Independence, in which she recounted in a charming, readable manner her experiences homeschooling her children, Ishmael and Vita (at the time, 11 and 7 years old, as depicted on the cover) in New Hampshire and Ithaca, NY, at a time when the homeschooling movement had yet to gather its current legal and organizational status. I can attest that, as Farenga puts it, her "prose was full of gentle insight". (I will definitely put up a review when I get the chance.)

Farenga describes his and Holt's perspective on their longtime, mutually supportive relationship with the Wallaces (which is depicted from the other side in Better Than School), includes some excerpts from Wallace's writing (from Growing Without Schooling magazine, Better Than School, and a subsequent 1990 book Child's Work: Taking Children's Choices Seriously) and reveals that Ishmael and Vita, whose intense interest in music is described in detail in Better Than School, now have a successful musical career, playing together as a violin/piano duo in NYC.

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