“ Genre: Biography / Author: Maire Mullarney / Edition: Rev e. / Paperback / 192 Pages / Book is published 1985-03-28 by Fontana „
I'm not the first person to describe this book as life changing, nor do I think I will be the last, but if there is one book apart from the bible that has truly impacted my life, this is it. Many people looking at this review, may be tempted to brush this book off as just another home schooling book. It isn't. It is remarkable account of the authors life in rural Ireland, how she raised her 11 children, and yes how she taught them at home, from infancy to about 8 or 9.
The author, Maire Mullarney, was born in 1921, and much of this story takes place in the 1940's - 50's. As the Mullarney family starts out they live in a very rural location. It is a simple but hard working life, as the house lacks conveniences like running water or electricity, has dirt floors and so on. Maire writes that from infancy she thought it important for each baby to have a large share of parental attention, so she carried them about everywhere, in her arms on a moses basket, and always found something to keep them occupied while she tended the vegetables, fetched the water and so on. "Toys" might be simple, a bit of crumpled paper, but the child always had something to entertain itself with.
It may have been a simple life, but the Mullarneys were determined their children would have the best in education. So they studied Montessori on their own through second hand books and provided the opportunities to learn as they chose to their children, who generally chose to read very early indeed, one before 2. So many home educators today worry about equipment and supplies. Maire made do with very little but with exceptional results, all of the children doing very well when they transferred to state schools and in later life.
But home educating is really secondary to this book. Its a remarkable story of a most remarkable woman. She narrates it so simply, you feel as you are just having a conversation with a best friend.
Maire has campaigned for educational reform, the environment ( she was a founding member of the Green Party in Ireland), and her pet love Esperanto. She is most remembered for her work on home education, but what struck me most was just her knowledge on parenting. The Irish Independent wrote that she should be "an inspiration" to all parents, while The Irish Times called her book "Essential reading" for parents. I honestly found her a great inspiration, and of all the people throughout history I have read about and been inspired by, this is the one I would most have liked to meet.