This week on the podcast, we connect with Grace Llewellyn, a staple of the unschooling community who shaped my own homeschooling approach.
She taught for three years before leaving the profession to write a classic in the unschooling world: The Teenage Liberation Handbook. The book was published in 1991, when she was only 26 years old, and has been thoroughly updated and re-released for it’s 30th anniversary in 2021. In 1996, Grace founded Not Back to School Camp to bring together unschooled teenagers and it’s still bringing joy around the world, today.
After her time in the traditional school system – at a wonderful private school in Colorado – she came to the point where she felt she had seen and experienced too much to ethically continue teaching. She discovered the world of unschooling and quickly realized that it was unfair to rely on parents to introduce their kids to the methodology. She knew what she had to do.
We talk about:
- the expectations that come with unschooling,
- addressing fears parents may have,
- and the joys of dabbling.
Unschooling can lead to lofty expectations. While the principles suggest that kids will be naturally guided to learn what they are most interested in, as parents, the approach can lead us to worry about a well-rounded education, or seeing what others are doing and feeling jealous of their progress. That’s a hard feeling to disauge, but it’s important to remember that kids don’t need to have a passion. Kids can be dabblers. Adults can be dabblers! There’s no one vision of success, which is the exact reason unschooling rejects the traditional school system.
For parents that have hesitations about unschooling – about getting a job or going to college – there are decades worth of data showing that this is not an issue for most children. The other common worry is built on failure. But, failure is a part of being human, and part of unschooling is finding a way to learn lessons from failures by making sense of them.
In the newly released 30th Anniversary edition of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, Grace worked with a past guest of the podcast, Blake Boles, to create a version of the book that holds up even stronger today. What started as a quick, streamlined version quickly became a project requiring hundreds of hours of research. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone interested in easing their teen into unschooling, or for parents who want a different perspective on homeschooling.
- Visit nbtsc.org to find out more about Not Back to School Camp
- Raising Critical Thinkers: raisingcriticalthinkers.com
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