This was an incredibly interesting book that I enjoyed far more than I initially thought I would. The premise is simple, teenager Kendall Hailey is hi...moreThis was an incredibly interesting book that I enjoyed far more than I initially thought I would. The premise is simple, teenager Kendall Hailey is highly dissatisfied about being told what to learn so decides to take control of her own education. What follows is a scattered journal illustrating the various approaches she takes toward becoming a fully literate person. Coming from a family of writers, her mother a novelist and her father a playwright, literature and writing seem to come as second nature to her and she enthusiastically devours the densest ancient histories along with the most frivolous of plays.
As an example of how self-education can work for one privileged white woman, "The Day I Became An Autodidact" is perfect. Kendall is (and should be) held up as a model for the de-schooling community. What this book does not offer, though, is a description of how self-learning can be accomplished by someone who is not gifted with well-off parents with a winter home in England. There are no tips for how to balance personal studies with the obligations of a job because she doesn't have to. As a member of the working class trying to chart my own educational path at the same time as I try to gather funds to make a rent payment or do my laundry, descriptions of days spent lounging in a chair devouring an obscure work grate on me. I can easily admit that this is jealousy poking its head from under the rug where I normally hide it, but the fact remains: the self-learning movement needs to move away from this pie in the sky ivory tower approach to education as illustrated in the book and flesh out a means for the working class to chart their own development. Not all of us have country estates, and I would love to find an autodidact that does not rely on that wealth to exist.(less)