I am an avid reader of books, mostly nonfiction, and I would guess I have read over a hundred books about education, educational theory, and homeschooling. I recently checked out of the library one of my favorite books to read again and I am so glad I did. I wanted to share this wonderful book because it is a book that many parents my age probably have never heard of. The book is called Marva Collins' Way and it first came out in 1982. Inside the cover of this book you will find a wonderful story about an amazing teacher and the teaching methods she used to transform her students.
This book tells the story of how Marva Collins created the Westside Preparatory School, an inner city school in Chicago. She took on students that no one else wanted with a multitude of learning disability labels and helped them achieve amazing academic success. She used a classical approach to education and was a strong proponent of teaching children to read using an intensive phonics program. The results of her educational methods are impressive. Alex Haley stated in the forward of the book that fifteen years after starting her school "every one of that grammar school's graduates is today either attending some outstanding prep school on full academic scholarship or has gone on to an outstanding college or university" (Collins 2).
What I like best about the book, Marva Collins' Way, is that it discusses the methods that Marva Collins used to teach the children in her school. The book is easy to read and allows parents to glean many ideas on how they can help their own child succeed academically. This book emphasizes over and over the importance of teaching children to believe in themselves. I want to include a couple of paragraphs from the preface of the book which really sum up Marva Collins' philosophy.
"Westside Preparatory has no monopoly on quality teaching. There are thousands of excellent teachers in the country with valuable techniques of their own. What all good teachers have in common, however, is that they set high standards for their children and do not settle for anything less. The academic program at my school consists simply of the three R's in the context of a total program that teaches each child that he or she is unique, special, and much too bright ever to be less than he or she can be. My teachers live by the credo, "I will never let you fail".
We must begin focusing on our children again. We must reevaluate our perceptions of them and learn to recognize that they can be motivated to achieve their potential, whatever it may be. It is too easy and too convenient to conclude that bad students are poorly motivated or stupid. This conclusion is a poor excuse, and it runs counter to the truth. A good teacher can always make a poor student good and a good student superior. The word teacher has its roots in the Latin word meaning to lead or to draw out. Good teachers draw out the best in every student; they are willing to polish and shine until the true luster of each student comes through" (Collins 6)
This book has been a great inspiration to me as a homeschooling parent. I want to draw out the best in my children and let the essence of who they are shine through. Some days I fall short of this goal but reading books like Marva Collins' Way inspires me to keep working on being the best teacher that I can be and helping my children to be the best they can be. I am not the only person who has been greatly inspired by this book. It receives 35 reviews on Amazon.com and all of the reviewers give the book five stars.
You can read more about Marva Collins here.
Collins, Marva and Civia Tamarkin. Marva Collins Way. New York: The Putnam Publishing Group, 1982.
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