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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 23, 1992|ALEX RAKSIN

FAMILY MATTERS: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: $22.95; 245 pp.) YOUR CHILD'S FIRST SCHOOL: A Handbook for Parents by Diana Townsend-Butterworth (Walker: $22.95; 271 pp.). Not long after public education spread through America a little over a century and a half ago, Mark Twain reflected our country's ambivalence toward the classroom with his famous quip, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education." As "choice," the '90s catchword for education reform, reveals, our ambivalence about exactly what constitutes the ideal school endures. These two books, both written with clarity and concision, frame the debate.

At the idealistic extreme stand public high school teacher David Guterson and his wife, Robin Radwick, who have found the time to school their three boys at home and in their community in an attempt to offer them education that is "alive, participatory, whole and most of all theirs ." Standing at the pragmatic extreme is Diana Townsend-Butterworth, who begins with the assumption that parents in the '90s have less time than ever to spend with their children and proceeds from the conviction that schools should be havens from communities made increasingly unsafe by muggers, kidnapers and drugs.

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