Monday, November 16, 2009

Review of The Teenage Liberation Handbook

I wrote this review for Homeschooling Horizons magazine a year or two ago, and since I've been wanting to share reviews of unschooling books, I decided to post it here!

"In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it...and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself."
Grace Llewellyn

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn

This has to be the most inspiring book I’ve ever read. I’m actually at a bit of a loss for just how to get across how amazing I found this book… I suppose I should start with how it affected me personally. I’ve always been an unschooler, and I read some of this book years ago, but the last year I was seriously questioning the path that my education had taken. Was I doing the right thing? Should I really be in school instead? Or at least studying textbooks? Then I picked up the Teenage Liberation Handbook once again, and my worries melted away. Here in my hands I held a virtual goldmine of ideas, resources, encouragement, and practical advice. Written with passion and conviction, liberally peppered with stories of real life teenage unschoolers and the marvelous things they’ve done (least fascinatingly to me getting into prestigious universities, but that means a lot to some people), and continuously inspiring. Although aimed directly at teenagers still in the school system, with advice on convincing your parents that unschooling can work, to legal issues, to worries about socialization, I found it equally useful as an unschooler, with such wide ranging chapters giving ideas for things you can do for every traditional school subject, and some less traditional ones, as well as getting into colleges and universities, finding meaningful volunteer and paid work, doing apprenticeships, starting your own business, traveling the world… If ever you thought unschooling couldn’t work, or you simply need to be inspired, then this is the book for you. I feel like I’ve started my own education all over again. I’m actually exited about learning for the first time in a while. Good job Grace! Grace does have some very strong opinions. Since I agree with most of them, it wasn’t a problem for me, but it may be for some people. That’s the only even possibly negative thing I can say about the whole book! Read it. Love it. And most importantly, love learning.



  1. That book is amazing! I own two copies, each being different editions. While I'm no longer in school, it's still an important source of inspiration; her book was what introduced me to unschooling.

    I also recommend Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go To School. I only own the earliest edition (For some, the "what-they're-doing-now" thing is enough proof that unschooling works.), but it still helps when I need reassurance.

  2. Yeah, it really is awesome! :-)

    I own Real Lives as well, though I don't think I've ever read straight through it... I will eventually!

  3. I love this book so much! Our local infoshop had a copy in their lending library, and I took it home.

    Within the first few pages, the book had me crying. I was sent to public school, and it hit that chord of pain and suffering I experienced in my early education so strongly, so directly, that I couldn't stop myself as the tears welled up.

    I unschool my daughters, and that book has been a great inspiration and reference for what and how we could do this on our won, and truly make it (and us) a roaring success.

    The only thing that sat a bit wrong for me is Grace's suggestion that if your parents balk at letting you educate yourself, you should mention tat some day, when you are all much older, the choice of where to send them for most of their time will lie on you. The threat of putting one's parents in a nursing home or elder daycare when one is older, from a teen, is not only unmotivational, but also ineffective, ridiculous, and rather insulting. Many teens could word it the wrong way, and many stubborn parents could get so angry that they will never let their teen learn on their own, in glorious freedom.

    I guess I should say 'great book, user discression advised'. :P

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I think she meant this: "Parents, how would you feel if you are sent to a nursing home without your consent? You would not like it, so it is wise to respect your kids' wishes along with yours".

    That was how I took the content.

  5. Yes, awesome book. I have two tiny people at home, but as a relatively new unschooling mother, my kids are 5 and 7, I feel like it a book that I can re-visit many times and then pass onto my own kids at their time of need.

  6. Have you ever read The Day I Became An Autodidact by Kendall Hailey? It is OOP, but it is easily found used. I think you would enjoy it.

    The Teenage Liberation Handbook is great. I wish it had been around when I was a teenager. Thankfully I read it when my oldest (age 14) was 2 so all 5 of my children have always been unschooled.

  7. For me, that book lit a fire under my ass to take responsibility for my life. For me, that included unschooling but extended far beyond it as well.

  8. Reading it (before my days of blogging) was one of those moments where I realized that I wasn't the only one doing this, there are other unschoolers out there! I sent a copy to my sixteen year old cousin in school (he liked it, but I don't think his mom did).....


  9. I liked the book, but I want to read some actual examples of where the ideas were put into place. Sometimes people get this idea that they can just walk into a college biology lab, announce proudly, "I am UNschooled" and they will bow and allow you free access. My experience is reality is a bit more difficult than that. What meaningful experiences did you actually have, (not the ideas), because that's the reality that teens need to make it really work.

  10. I read the book. I tried to persuade my parents to unschool me, but I failed. It broke my heart.

    So yes. Great book, but a real heartbreaker.

  11. Read Summerhill by A. S. Neil.