With considerable talk recently about striking teachers in Chicago, charter schools and education reform, some free-thinking parents might enjoy a book with a more counter-culture take on learning. "Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest," first published in 1996, is a wide-ranging cultural criticism by author Daniel Quinn, best-known for his novel "Ishmael." It tackles a wide range of issues - religion, science and marriage, to name a few - and proposes some provocative views on education, many of which have been influential in the "unschooling" movement. A former maker of scholastic materials, Quinn argues schools are arbitrary institutions that fail to prepare students for the real world. He proposes a more organic system where young people develop skills naturally and through apprenticeships at a time they deem necessary.
- ALEX NUNES