Ken King died recently.
In addition to being a regular presence at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market and an influential local organic farmer, his death reminded me of a tape I received when my kids were pretty young. The King Brothers (Ken's and Cathy's kids) made the tape For Kids By Kids before they were adolescents, and it is good music. Fun percussion and engaging voices had us singing along to "This old man, he played one, he played knick-knack ..." over, and over, and over. (As the parent of a toddler, it is always a blessing when you like the songs that they want to hear over and over and over.) You can listen to the King Brothers on MySpace right here. (Although my favorite songs are not on the MySpace playlist--my favorites were the ones that were based on nursery rhymes.)
What caught my eye, then and now, is summed up in this description taken from the MySpace site:
Preteen pop duo that delighted the Ann Arbor area with their innocent renditions of Elvis Presley tunes and surprisingly mature originals in the late 80s, early 90s. Starting at ages 11 and 7 and recording out of a small travel trailer, the brothers released five cassettes and performed at many respected venues in the area including the Ark. Most remarkable was the fact that the brothers received no assistance in the studio or otherwise in creating their music.
At the time I got For Kids By Kids, I was a year or two away from having a child in kindergarten, and I was fascinated by homeschooling, but I didn't really think that I could manage it. I was particularly interested in the idea that with homeschooling, I could really take advantage of the "teachable moment"--that kids could find something they were intrigued in, and pursue it, and pursue it.
I think I saw the notice of Ken King's death at the same time that an intense discussion of homeschooling occurred on the Teacher, Revised blog.
(See here, here, here, and here--these links are not in order, sorry--but you can always just go to the web site and search on home schooling.)
I'm not really sure why some people are so sure that public (or private) school is always superior to homeschooling, or vice versa. There are many paths. . .
Ultimately I decided that homeschooling would not be a good thing for me, but I admit that I am frequently jealous of those for whom it works. [And many parents find that it works for some number of years, and not for others. More power to them for discerning the best ways to educate their kids.]
In any case, if you want to see an example of how homeschooling can work (really well), the King Brothers tapes are an impressive place to start. And if you like what you hear, stop by the Frog Holler booth at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market, and let them know.