This past week I started reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn.

My first thought upon starting was that I wished I had read that book when in high school. But then I flipped to the cover page and sought out the copyright date…yep, I’m too old. It wasn’t published yet when I graduated from high school — in 1983.

Nic just turned 9. And, conceivably, all three of my children will one day be teenagers.

But that’s not why I’m reading. I’m not afraid of their teenage years.

I’m reading it because I want to learn more about deschooling our homeschool. I want to make sure that not only am I not recreating school at home — but that I’m not unintentionally bringing and authoritarian voice/approach into our days.

One of the most insidious things that school teaches us is to fear. We fear getting bad grades, we fear not being able to get into college, we fear making bad choices, we fear teachers (at least some of them), we fear our peers (at least some of them) and we fear somehow just getting it all wrong.

One of my prime reasons for homeschooling (one of these days I’m gonna start a list — I’m sure it’s in the hundreds by now) is because I don’t want these children to be pushed through the widget-mill. I don’t want them to learn to obey and conform and lose the ability to listen to themselves.

Ok, check, they are not in school, so they are not in the widget-mill.

But, and this is important, if I am not careful to excise all the fear that school/culture gave me, I will have only replaced the widget-mill with a (loving, caring, well-intentioned) widget-apprenticeship.

Yeah, they’ll be with me. They’ll be able to go to the bathroom without asking first. They will be safe from predators (adult and peer). But that is not good enough.

So I read Teenage Liberation Handbook and look to see where I might see myself in the stories of these schools and teachers. For I must really look at my own need for control. I must see where I am asking the children to do things (or not do things) for my convenience. And I need to find ways to encourage them to tell me when I’m ‘full of it’ — and the strength within myself to accept their assessment gracefully and, hopefully, with a wry smile.

Maybe if I can learn to trust more, and control less, by the time we enter these teen years, the children won’t have to push so hard to get me to give them the space they need — and deserve — to become who they are meant to be.

back to the scapel,