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I have read this book and would like to point out several erroneous ideas of other reviewers:
First, I read the Teenage Liberation Handbook at age 17 and was not in any way convinced or persuaded that this book endorses the idea of experimenting with illegal substances, though it does mention them briefly.
Second, that a more suitable title for this book is "Let's skip college and live on a farm handbook," is highly implausible. That reviewer suggests that the book is useless to any reader who aspires to 1.attend college or 2.NOT live on a farm. Contrary to the cover-photo on one edition of the book, it doesn't cover farm life and DOES get intimate with the process of getting into college (in fact, there's a chapter allocated to just that). I know unschoolers in urban (San Francisco, Cincinnati, New York, Sydney) as well as rural places and who, as young as age 16, attend colleges and universities. Further, this book suggests resources for attending college such as the book Homeschooling for Excellence by David Colfax and Micki Colfax and others such as And What About College?: How Homeschooling Leads to Admissions to the Best Colleges & Universities by Cafi Cohen.
Lastly, to the reviewer who suggested that the author MUST be a high school failure...Llewellyn explains her perfectly ordinary (or should I say, "above average") educational background, from high school through college, and she does so in the first part of the book.
As for myself, I find this book to be a beneficial resource. It discerns a difference between "education" and "school," and poses education as a far greater and broader concept than school. Further, the book illustrates students' struggles within the school system. (Failures of the school system might be more fully explicated in the book The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling by the award winning former teacher John Taylor Gatto).
Llewellyn makes the point that relying purely on the modern compulsory school system as a source for education may mean missing out on a lot of meaningful, real-world experiences and learning opportunities, and she encourages teens not to settle for mediocrity or a one-size-fits-all approach to education. She employs "unschooling" as an alternative means to school, and through the principles of unschooling, Llewellyn encourages teens to excel in education by creating a "tailor-made learning extravaganza:" seeking mentors, taking classes, reading books, going places that inspire (personally meaningful) learning. An overall theme of this book is to not wait until "after high school" to create the life one aspires to, rather to take responsibility for pursuing the life you aspire to live, right now.
Perhaps not all teens need this message, but I did: My parents expected little of me outside of my standard public school academics. I dispassionately attended school and made good grades, but it wasn't until reading the grandiose vision of The Teenage Liberation Handbook that my perspective was broadened. It begged me to think, "Is there more to learning than school? How is school helping me achieve my goals, and so what are my goals? What communities do I participate in, and how do I contribute? What are my interests and passions?"
After reading this book, I recognized that the modern school path could be ordinary and impersonal, and the Teenage Liberation Handbook became my permission slip for a field trip into the great beyond...beyond the system into a world where I could think big, achieve academically or otherwise, and stop selling myself short of my potential.
Indeed, The Teenage Liberation Handbook encouraged me to do the implausible: quit school and participate in the world in new ways, set goals, seek out resources and mentors, value adults for their wisdom and experience and engage in activities that would shape my future...I had a new sense of freedom and personal responsibility. Never again would I be "bored" because Llewellyn raised the stakes: I could actively pursue an education that was highly valuable to me, or passively attend school, taking it for whatever its worth. I no longer wanted a pre-packaged educational experience handed to me with a diploma/receipt. I assumed the role of "lead character" in the story of my own life, dreaming, earning and striving for Llewellyn's type of personally-meaningful, ongoing education. I completed my high school education through correspondence school while continuing to learn and evolve through other learning tactics.
Howard Thurman said "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." I decided I was a kinesthetic learner and an artist and I took college courses and apprenticed in areas that nurtured those qualities I cherished most in myself. Moreover, I began, at age 17, to shape my life, consciously.
...Yes, the concepts proposed in this book are idealistic and appeal to the emotions; the very nature of this book is philosophical, dealing and concepts like "liberation" and values like "getting a real life." I suggest reading this unorthodox book for what it is, and formulating your own opinion of whether Llewellyn's empathetic approach detracts from or inspires the book's message of liberation. To put the book in context, the author was 26 when she wrote it, and she called it a "wild-card."
George Carlin said, "Some people see things that are and ask, 'Why?' Some people dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?' Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that ..."
If you are satisfied with your overall educational process or simply don't care to ponder the value of your schooling, this book may not be for you. However, if you are a teen falling short of your potential (even if you plan to remain in school or homeschool already), or if you or someone you know is currently frustrated or dissatisfied with your current school experience, you may find this book helpful in helping yourself.