Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Strange Lessons from Schooled

Gordon Korman's book Schooled presents two different types of education. Cap Anderson has grown up on an old hippie commune, with his grandmother as the only other resident. Although he has seen very few people in his life, his first lessons were in responsibility and compassion for all humanity, both in the abstract and in the individual. The book instantly throws him from his sheltered existence into life at C Average middle school, where no one is encouraged to care about anyone else. Friendships are a matter of utility, and betrayals are expected and unremarked. This is not depressing or dark; it's just life at a typical middle school.

Cap's arrival changes things for many students, who eventually realize that he isn't faking things or trying to game them, and they tentatively explore the idea of thinking outside their own selfish needs. On his part, Cap welcomes the chance to meet more people, and never stops seeing the best in everyone, partly because of his inability to parse figurative language. Not only does he not recognize lies or sarcasm, he takes idioms at face value. I enjoyed the fun tale, especially the intrinsic kindness of Cap, which stays believable throughout. I was disappointed but not surprised when Cap ends up staying enrolled in public school. Does anyone know a story of a child getting a superior homeschooled education, sent to the shocks of school, and then getting to go back to homeschooling? B+

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