Alternative Education resources: The Teenage Liberation Handbook

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The Teenage Liberation Handbook is one of the most important books I have ever read. For me, like hundreds or possibly thousands of other teenagers, this guide gave me the essential empowerment I needed to decide to leave the compulsory school system during my eighth grade year in 1999, and become an unschooler. (“Unschooler” is the term used throughout the TLH to describe home schoolers whose education is largely self-directed, independent, and often comes mainly from their experiences in the world around them and their pursuit of activities that they find interesting).
Written directly to middle school and high school students, the TLH not a curriculum guide. It is partially a resource book, with many chapters devoted to detailing options for “studying” various “subjects”, as well as giving teenagers jumping-off points for pursuing real-life educational possibilities in travel, volunteering, and activism. To me, though, the absolutely essential, unique thing that sets this book apart from all other home schooling manuals is that it is a complete guide to going from being a frustrated compulsory-school student with no meaningful influence over your education, to becoming an empowered, informed, fullfledged independent learner with a world of possibilities for learning at your fingertips. The first chapters of the book define the problem of the status quo of compulsory education in America. The essential message of the Teenage Liberation Handbook is that middle and high school students have the right to make meaningful choices about the direction of their lives and education – in other words, they have the right to exercise their freedoms.
However, the TLH holds, the basis of the compulsory school system, the educational status quo in America, is that it has power over students’ lives. No matter how many wonderful teachers a school has and no matter how well meaning the administration, it cannot offer its students real control of their lives. (See Chapter 2, “School is not for learning”). This book presents the alternative: to “quit school and get a real life and education”.
For most teenagers who have been in the school system most of their lives, the change from having always had one’s time structured by someone else to having all the freedom in the world, feels overwhelming. The former student will most likely be confronting many feelings about their past schooling as well their new environment. The great thing about the TLH is the middle chapters that guide you through this tough spot, saving countless months or years of frustration. When the unschooler is ready to move into her or his new life, the TLH provides for them chapters of great resources for all subjects and activities. It will provide the basis for the unschooler to become an independent scholar of whatever they are interested in pursuing. Students build their own education.
I am profoundly grateful to the Teenage Liberation Handbook for the difference it has made in my life. This book makes the world outside schooling accessible to anyone. I highly recommend it.

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