It's refreshing to find a book that doesn't spend time showing how bad the public schools are. While they certainly are bad, and while we need books that tell us so, we also need books that simply present the key elements to a good well-rounded education. Upgrade is that kind of book. Author Kevin Swanson is a veteran educator in public schools, private schools, and his own children's homeschool, and he presents ten positive characteristics of the kind of education that equips kids spiritually, mentally, morally and physically for life.
Not that there aren't warnings—he's careful to say at the outset that parenting is not fail-safe, and that it is possible to fail to raise godly children of good moral standing and character. Which is why Upgrade is so important as a call to avoid the pitfalls that often lead to such failure. He doesn't try to convince parents to take their kids out of public or private school, he simply presents the ten crucial elements of a good education and lets parents make up their minds how best these goals can be achieved.
Every Christian has a God-given calling. Discovering and preparing to respond to that calling is the primary objective of education, so naturally the core of instruction should be in the formation of character. The reason so many educational philosophies and systems fail is that their promoters limit education to the intellectual realm. True education engages the learner holistically, making him a good person, not just a head full of facts. How this is accomplished is the major theme of Swanson's book.
One-on-one instruction is imperative, he says. Without it, children's individual abilities are ignored or displaced, and instead of each child learning what he ought, each child may or may not learn what is presented. The protection of children should be upheld—while schools today expose (both willingly and by default) kids to all kinds of spiritual and physical dangers, good education requires that they be trained to identify and withstand such dangers before being subjected to them.
Each of Swanson's ten characteristics of excellent education reflect his work as an educational expert, homeschool father, and pastor (at Reformation Church in Castle Rock, Colorado). He emphasizes the absolute need for children to be fully grounded in the basics (the so-called "three R's") as a foundation for the rest of their academic training, and is careful to also demonstrate how academic learning and character instruction relate to and affect each other. One of the best books on Christian education we've seen, Upgrade is must-reading for homeschool families at all levels of experience.